Monday, May 11, 2015

Insect Ark-Portal/Well

Autumnsongs Records

Formed in late 2011, Insect Ark is a one-woman experimental/doom/drone project from NYC-based freelance animator, designer, and musician Dana Schechter. Known for her time spent as a touring bassist with Michael Gira's Angels of Light, Dana Schechter has also recorded and performed with the likes of Botanica, April March, American Music Club, Keren Ann, Bertrand Burgalat, Tarnation, and Toby Dammit! As if that wasn't enough this (frankly amazing) composer/multi-instrumentalist (and California native) also has her own band in Bee and Flower which she put together back in 2000! Tinted about as black as can possibly be without being some sort of black metal experience, "Portal/Well" is Insect Ark’s (dark) full-length debut and sure enough this instrumental soundtrack is every bit as bleak and ominous as one would imagine it to be! This all-powerful recording was assembled piece by loving piece in Dana Schechter's own Brooklyn studio and while it is might just be devoid of spoken word it effortlessly speaks volumes about Dana's skills as both a musician and a producer. Not that there was ever a shadow of a doubt to begin with! Based solely on her touring record as a bassist for hire Dana is arguably one of the most-rounded musicians out there these days with the remarkable "Portal/Well" merely her latest example of music as a living form of art! This ambient and often-times deeply emotionally album follows in the footsteps of 2012's "Collapsar" 7" single and a 2013 EP called "Long Arms" and it was recorded over the course of one year's time. At times the album can have the same jolting effect as a person suddenly dumping a large bucket of screws, nails and bolts onto the floor of a pitch-black windowless room. Other times you can just about pick up on sound that this unearthly creepy crawler makes as it it slowly works it's way over to you inch by maddening inch! Even if it doesn't quite reflect just how far it goes towards disarming your senses that is still how I would go about describing a number "Lowlands". Or at least it's a start. Truthfully this one left me as speechless as it is wordless!  Like all good electronic doom/drone albums "Portal/Well" is all at once eerie, abrasive and nerve-rattling. It also achieves it's goal of haunting you. And that right there is the real charm of such experimental projects as you are never quite sure what to expect other than something unexpected! Seeing as Dana Schechter's impressionable teen years were spent in San Fransisco (where she was surround by and enthusiastically took to that area's legendary heavy metal scene!) the harsh and heavy sound pieces on display here make a lot of sense. Doom metal fans should find much to appreciate when it comes to the album's gloomy title track. As if one nearly seven minute track wasn't enough there's also the imposing "Taalith"! And let's not forget about "Octavia" with it's eight minute plus run-time! Eventually it all leads you to closing number "Low Moon" and as the Insect Ark's first full-length album wraps up you find yourself coming to an important realization. As much as this album serves as a triumphant moment for it's creator (in regards to making a innovative doom/drone sound scape) Insect Art's experimental vision has also created the perfect study of the dark nature of humankind! Having played "Portal/Well" a few times over now this atmospheric work of art is every-bit as clever and intelligent as it is doom-laden! Insect Ark illustrates a story for which no words need to be spoken. There's a outstanding degree of depth here and as a musician and storyteller Dana Schechter is simply brilliant! One can only hope that Insect Ark is not only here to stay, but that it will become more a full-time band with "Portal/Well" simply the first of many great releases! Fore more information on this amazing project be sure to check out Insect Ark's official site.

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