Clear the deck: Dendritic Arbor, Jennifer Christensen & Twilight Fauna unleash winter wonders

Dendritic Arbor. Go Pens.

Dendritic Arbor. Go Pens.

We’re nearing the end of the calendar year, hard as that is to believe here in sunny, balmy Pennsylvania. But we solider on, and just before we start our annual look back at the year that was 2015, there are a couple releases just unleashed or still imminent we want to cover quickly before the year-end stupidity and inanity gets going.

Dendritic Arbor coverWe’ll start off in my hometown of Pittsburgh and one of the more exciting, artistically perplexing bands anywhere, that being avant-garde black metal beasts Dendritic Arbor. They already put out a killer full-length “Romantic Love” in May, but apparently that wasn’t enough for this band. Two days before this year expires, Dendritic Arbor will drop a smothering, delirious EP “Sentient Village/Obsolescent Garden” that builds on what the band did on their debut but pushes it a million miles further. Nothing this band does is conventional, and they all-over-the-map shit as well as any group out there. There is no map showing you the twists and turns ahead, so you just kind of have to brace yourself and battle the tension. Taking them on live? Get ready to be flattened and stymied.

The four-track effort rips open with “Cotard Delusion,” as strange noises flow out of the gate, and then the bone crushing gets started in earnest. There are crazed cries, dissonant fury that floods your head, guitars blasting out everywhere and causing further disorientation, and the insanity finally bleeding out. “Failed Manifestation” has a riotous pace, with creaky growls, trippy spells spilling over, and a bizarre progginess to it all. Later, static kicks up and bubbles, with the violence spreading out and dissolving into air. “Keratoconus” is fiery and unhinged, with the vocals doing massive damage, and heavy atmosphere mixed in with the horrors. At times the band is mauling you, at others they are trying to make you dizzy and sick, and all in all, it’s a total mindfuck that mixes beatings with oddness. “Latex” is the 7:27 closer that starts with weird snarls, off-kilter melodies spiraling, and a really mesmerizing trip into hell. Death growls are unleashed and bruise, while the band gets thrashy, noise rises, and space zaps and cosmic morbidity extend over the final three minutes and off into the void.

For more on the band, go here:

To buy the album, go here:

7_foldoverSplit releases can be interesting if you pair up the right types of bands and artists. Too often, you get a couple bands (or more) that employ the same exact style and don’t really make for an interesting pairing. But when you find something like the new split release pairing atmospheric black metal project Twilight Fauna (the creation of Paul Ravenwood) and multi-instrumentalist Jennifer Christensen (of the great Disemballerina and her solo project Møllehøj) you have reason to really sit up and pay attention. Sonically, their respective songs make a lot of sense together, as their respective sounds are of the same plane of existence. But both are different enough from each other and have their own nuances that the result is a really rewarding, substantive 7” split effort.

Christensen’s side “Sickness Unto Death” lets strings quiver and lap over the land, with eerie and dark passages growing, her playing thrashing and chugging, and, as lovely as these sounds are, you can’t help but feel the thick presence of doom. The piece jars and rivets as it continues onward, with panic setting in later in the track, only to be washed away by calm waters, layers of atmosphere piling on top of each other, and the piece melting into the dark. Ravenwood gets the fires churning on “Crossing the Threshold” as he injects the piece with ringing guitars, thick drone, and melodies setting up a rustic, woodsy sense. A fog settles over, as it threatens a downpour, yet a warm glow pokes through that and lets embers churn. Melting growls emerge and drip behind the stormfront, providing a few thorny areas of the journey, while serenity spreads over the terrain and mixes in with the hard charges before this great cut, and substance-rich collection, subsides. Definitely check this one out, as it’ll sound even better when real winter actually arrives.

For more on the Twilight Fauna, go here:

For more on Jennifer Christensen, go here:

To buy the album, go here:

For more on the label, go here: