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Bass Communion - Continuum 2 CD (album) cover


Bass Communion

Progressive Electronic

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3 stars Please disregard the rating attached to this review. My rating for this album is completely blank.

There's something divinely odd about Steven Wilson's music. It seems he has a musical Midas touch, on production, and all around quality, on any release he is involved in. But here, in one of his more independent side projects, there's absolutely no connection to the work he's done with Porcupine Tree, No-man, Blackfield. The bond between this and I.E.M. (an entirely solo project) is minimal, and even the comparisons between the Continuum projects and the rest of Bass Communion's catalog are transparent.

Unfortunately, I've not heard much of Bass Communion's other outputs, nor the now out-of-print (but legally downloadable) Continuum 1. My comparisons would be superficial and unfair, so I will not do so. Continuum 2 is packaged marvelously. Limited to a mere two-thousand copies, is comes in a DVD-sized, slick black case. Its covers are marked by haunting, subtlety grotesque images, which also appear in the interior on inserts. The packaging alone makes its holder feel as though he has a priceless treasure in his hands, and must handle it with delicacy and secrecy.

Musically, however, it is brilliantly unique. It brings extreme minimalism into an electronic environment, as is the charge of ambient music, however, also applies new aspects. It employs the destructive power of heavy electric guitars, and a sinister atmosphere. I was frustrated with this release for a long while. It's not soft enough for a night listening, nor is it exciting enough to listen when fully awake. Some sections grow so loud I thought damage was being done to my speakers! Simultaneously, the vast majority of people will whine with boredom over its extending repetition of simple phrases. It exists in a half world, and most definitely requires a special mood to be enjoyed. This makes it extremely unaccessible, and many listeners might find it doesn't fit their tastes.

However, this unique innovation, this startling originality, proves this a piece of true art. As I mentioned, sections are so incredibly noisy, I had to lower the volume from fear of waking neighbors, knocking over furniture, or damaging my speakers. What's odd about this is that all songs begin with silence and a whisper, and rarely plays host to anything remotely sudden. It all grows progressively. As for its progressiveness, in the sense of progginess: it is extremely so. Many will beg to differ, as it encloses no complexity compositionally whatsoever. However, it is prog in the sense that it progresses away; ahead of the current. That is the true spirit of prog.

In the online announcement made to advertise the release of this album, Continuum 2 is described as this, "Is it ambient? Is it metal? It is neither, and yet, it is both. But it's so much more. Think of a Sci-Fi horror film shot on the surface of an abandoned, ghost-ridden planet, or the soundtrack to a slow motion apocalypse in which all life is extinguished beneath rock, dust and convulsing earth." This is the vivid reality of these atmospheric drones.

Report this review (#162992)
Posted Saturday, March 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars For every good horror film experience there is a much less enjoyable sequel. This apparently holds true with music as well.

Steven Wilson and Vidna Obmana did such a wonderful job on their previous collaborative release that they decided to release a second part, Continuum 2. Any music fan can tell you that news of a "part 2" to a highly enjoyable album often creates both excitement and worry, and for good reason. The previous installment of this series is a terrific, terrifying ambient industrial soundscape exploration that is sure to incite at least a small instance of panic for the listener, especially when paired with an appropriate physical setting such as a dark room or, ideally, a cave or abandoned factory. This continuation of the series is a bit overdone and comes off of a kind of ridiculous at times.

In the same way as the previous album, the tracks here are simply labelled as numbered constructs starting with IV, and the music begins in the familiar uneasy ambient drone - so far so good. But suddenly a heavily distorted doom metal guitar chord and steady hi-hat tapping breaks the ambience with severe gusto, entirely ruining the atmosphere. On the first track, the doom guitar is ever present, completely dissipating the effect of the shifting industrial dronescape that faintly looms in the background, which is upsetting considering that the track is almost 23 minutes long. Subsequent tracks follow suit, using varying degrees of emotionless doom metal and drowned industrial audio scenery, creating an hour of disappointment.

Continuum 2 is essentially a copy of Lustmord's work on Juggernaut, being primarily dark ambient with disruptive and distracting doom/sludge metal guitar. While I do find doom metal in general to be enjoyable, it does not work well with what would otherwise be a beautifully disconcerting dark ambient soundscape. I'm sure this album provides a good crossover opportunity for fans of doom metal into ambient electronic territory, but as someone who already enjoys both genres individually, I'd say this execution is unfortunately mediocre.

Report this review (#635158)
Posted Friday, February 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is volume 2 in the collaboration between Steven Wilson's experimental minimalistic project Bass Communion and Vidna Obmana. The tracks are titled "Construct" like the previous volume and numbered IV, V and VI this time. This starts out just like the previous volume with electronic ambience and starts right away painting the picture of isolation that was obvious all the way through the first volume. Once again, the music melds to your mind, even if you are playing as background and it seems you are once again travelling nowhere. But just as the numbness starts to settle in for another long hour, a guitar comes along and smashes the ambience after the first few minutes. After the mind numbing tracks that have gone before in the last volume, this is totally unexpected and if you aren't aware of this, it can scare the heebie jeebies right out of you.

The guitar remains through the track after this and plays a repeating slow hook with very little variation while underneath, the electronics continue to swirl, cascade and grow. On the 5th construct, the electronic ambience seems to have grown some and is a little more bold. Nothing much happens throughout this track, returning a little to the previous album, but towards the last 1/2 of the track, a droning guitar creeps up from under the sound and crescendos until it has almost completely taken over the track. The last Construct is similar, but the guitar gets louder quicker as the electronics play more sustained sounds and tones that are maybe a little brighter. The guitar plays a slowly descending pattern as it gets louder for the duration of the track.

So, where the 1st volume was an album with electronic ambience that for the most part did not go anywhere, the 2nd volume has a little more character and movement where the loud guitar churns and plods around the synthesized sounds. A little more interesting this time, but still not the best available Bass Communion album out there. It's still all about atmosphere, but the loneliness that was the feeling for the 1st volume is gone because of the guitar becoming a constant companion. But, is having this companion turning out to be better or worse than the loneliness? It sounds like the story here wants to suggest no, but as for the music, it does help make the slow, long tracks a little easier to digest. I would consider this a little better than the 1st, but it is a weak 3 stars.

Report this review (#1319582)
Posted Wednesday, December 3, 2014 | Review Permalink

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