Album Review: Anthropocene by Deludium Skies

Anthropocene by Deludium Skies is “drone rock fused with industrial and a free jazz spirit” according to its creator, Austria’s Karl Pelzmann. It is a concept record set in a “dystopian” future in which nature has reclaimed the planet from the rubble of civilization following humanity’s decimation. The surviving people have formed small tribes and are making lives for themselves amongst the chaos.

The record itself comprises five scuzzy, tense, brooding, and atmospheric instrumentals. Opener “Arose From Debris” sounds like it did just that. This really is the sound of a post-apocalyptic future emerging from the old order. The sampled drums stamp out a jittery but defiant tribal marching beat whilst the layers of disharmony and chaos fester and mutate like supercharged sewage scum. Electronic clangs and clashes battle it out with turboscuzz guitars and it all just grooves along, gracefully malodorous.

“Crystalline Wasteland” has a much stronger sense of order and harmony. Pensive and brooding, it builds steadily yet forcefully around one power chord and an automated EDM synth pattern. The grimy sludge doesn’t stay away for long. As the distorted bass rises and rises I am reminded of Star Wars scene where the characters are stuck in a steadily crushing trash compactor. And then it all starts to fall away magically.

“Impure Rain” is also a perfect title to match the sounds within. As the drums crash out a “purposefully too slow” doom groove you can hear the tarnished wetness pelting down and the maddening squawks of whatever foul and twisted creatures might inhabit this new future. The jazz-influenced harmonic tension and use of “blue notes” here is exceptionally interesting. Again, we are dragged further and further into insanity as the track progresses. This is frightening stuff.

The EP closes with “Between the Concrete Trees.” Here we have a bouncing Jew’s harp and we are back in tribal territory. There is a more organic and loose feel here; less noise and more soundscape. There are also bluesy riffs. But the dissonance is never far away as synth tones drag themselves in an out like a niggling fear that can’t be quelled.

My only criticism of the production here would be that programmed drums would perhaps be more effective if they were either more “real” sounding or if they were pushed more to sound even more like electronic loops (which is actually what they are). At the moment they seem to be somewhere in between, which can be a little confusing. Otherwise the production is strong — suitably “horrible,” but with plenty of subtlety within the bleak and harsh textures. The composition is innovate and idiosyncratic and betrays many more diverse influences than might be initially credited.

Anthropocene takes us on a journey into its twisted and strange universe replete with associated chaos and pain. The best thing about it for me is that, through it all, the defiantly beating heart of the human spirit punches through, unkillably hopeful in its fatalism. Perhaps some of us could even learn something from the sounds in this fictional future which could be applied to our present reality.

Anthropocene is released on 11th June 2020 via Xtelyon Records and can be downloaded at https://deludiumskies.bandcamp.com/album/anthropocene.

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