The new split album from Many Blessings and Pulsatile Tinnitus feels like a filter across your entire mental field of vision, turning the whole environment frigid and dangerous — or perhaps most accurately, illuminating harsh volatility that was lurking beneath shiny surfaces all along. It’s a subtly but powerfully captivating experience. Fundamentally, the chilling, largely atmospheric album could be termed along a range from “harsh noise” to just “experimental music,” but the artists behind this release clearly leave their own unique marks on a style in which it may be difficult to do so as a built-in feature. The kind of soundtrack without a movie approach to music that the artists have taken here constitutes a totally admittedly vulnerable artistic leap — and the material lands darkly but triumphantly, and really proves a gripping, immersive experience upending and twisting some fundamental musical worldviews of “good” and “evil.”
Peering into this work feels like stumbling upon a situation in which a torrential thunderstorm has somehow become animate and is freely distributing deadly lightning strikes and more. There’s a slowly but surely proceeding awe-inspiring power here — through much of the runtime, the music feels a lot “thinner” than it could be, but every portion still hits like a meteor. The artists feel like they’re at the ultimate limits of mental existence, and you’re free to join them thanks to their new music.
Adding up to around an hour, the five tracks on this release are the work of the brutal sludge metal band Primitive Man’s Ethan McCarthy, who performs under the Many Blessings moniker, and Kayla Phillips, who’s spent time fronting the grindcore band Bleed The Pigs and here performs under the name Pulsatile Tinnitus. The two of them take turns in the spotlight on their new collaboration following a slowly but surely building opening track on which they work together and sounds — fittingly enough — like waking up and realizing you’re trapped in a hellscape. Each of the artists have unique views on the nature of the tones they’re working with — Phillips’ first solo track here (the second overall) feels like the exploration of some mental, subterranean cavern, with a thread of smooth tones gradually compounding into something harsher as “cracking the surface” approaches. Even tones sounding like they’re from a violin or similar instrument show up as the finale tumult builds. As the album proceeds, the tracks impart a trapped feeling of getting lost in some eternally recurring system that ends in death but has no way out all the same, and just restarts after destruction.
There’s no real musical “light” here — just a stunning sonic approximation of a convulsing, heaving system the artists themselves might feel trapped in.
The full release is publicly available to stream widely via Anti-Corporate Music on August 9. Listen to an early stream at this link and a previous Many Blessings track below.