[CDR, Deserted Factory]
Ninth Desert is the solo project of French artist Cyril Herry that was born out of the ashes of his previous solo project Lecanora in July 2005. Released by the Japanese label Deserted Factory, Herry’s fifth solo album as Ninth Desert and second for Deserted Factory – the first being a collaborative release with Matériel Brouilleur – is limited to 150 hand-numbered copies.
Dark ambient and intensely atmospheric in design, Neyss is a series of tracks that would form the perfect soundtrack to a futuristic movie where the society has disintegrated and only a bleak wasteland exists or perhaps a science fiction film full of stark but beautiful lunar imagery masking a threat unseen deep within its confines. Why these particular themes? Herry’s music is a mix of spacious ambience, subtle tones and echoed fragments of distorted electronic debris. He experiments with drones that subtly mutate and evolve over time, the overall effect being to create dark, expressive and atmospheric tension. Opening with the three minute “X-Hi”, Neyss quickly builds from complete silence to a gentle layered drone, shrill and undulating like a windswept desert wasteland. Ending abruptly, “Karn” picks up where it left off, adding the clattering sound of a moving train, the shrill tones now more grating and higher pitched than before, adding a sense of heightened urgency and anxiety.
From “Tern” onwards however the mood shifts and becomes subtler, the mood is still dark and ominous but the drones and atmospheres are more muted, cinematic and carefully crafted. Gently shifting tones as low rumbling drones unfold, expand and contract, slowly and deliberately painting a new picture of vast unforgiving open spaces harbouring hidden menace. There is a further subtle shift in style from “Phos” onwards, this time gentler, more optimistic yet also more experimental. Almost orchestral in places, “Phos” is still dark and intense but somehow less ominous in nature. The mood continues into “a.w” which experiments with short bursts of echoed bassy electronic sound and sharper pitched tones giving the impression it has been recorded in a vast enclosed space such as a deserted factory (pun intended). “Krann” is a hybrid of the two themes, still spacious and generally lighter in tone but with dark undertones creeping back in and invading the space as the track progresses. “Stalker” is initially stylistically similar to “a.w” but with sharper, crisper sound bursts almost as though created from the crackle of live electricity punctuated by tiny residual echoes that dissolve into the distance. At over 13 minutes, album closer “Tans” continues the theme but adds passages of grating high pitched tones, discrete rumbling drones and atmospheric ambient texture to create a single piece which draws from the previous tracks on the album and introduces new ideas at the same time. The result is tense soundtrack full of gentle melancholy and the conclusion of the story told as a soundtrack through the last seven tracks.
Building scenes through a series of interrelated tracks, Neyss is an aural soundtrack to a story untold. Each listener is given free reign to create their own back-story; use their imagination to build scenes to match the music as Neyss unfolds. Herry provides the soundtrack with his music, at times deep, dark and unnerving and at others lighter and more optimistic with themes interwoven between tracks, slowly evolving and shifting as they progress. The only real criticism of this album is that some of the earlier tracks finish very abruptly, disrupting the natural flow of the album.
Published by Judas Kiss Magazine [October 31st 2009]