Dialect, a new EP from the Seb Alvarez-led project Virgin Mother, sounds like a musical representation of what conservative church leaders so often warned vulnerable youth would happen if they strayed even slightly from the path laid out for them (but that obviously wouldn’t be a familiar experience for everybody). It’s hellish, although in certain cultural contexts that concept’s been used so much it seems to be somehow muted — the EP, a free-flowing noise release with a variety of textures, sounds like a nightmare, reflecting the frenzy of trying to get out and the startling realization that you can’t.
Listen to it all below! First, here’s a brief review:
Track one, “Sunder,” carries a simply remarkable level of gut-wrenching tension — it’s like the sound of an industrial wasteland somehow agonizing over its own regrets and fears. Thanks to the thickness of the track’s sonic brew — a lot on the new release approaches so-called wall of sound territory, which is always pretty captivating — everything around seems to both pose a threat and be utterly taken up by turmoil, the kind of turmoil that doesn’t leave a second or portion of the body outside its reach.
Here and across the EP, the textures feel particularly abrasive, and for the most part, it doesn’t really stop in any meaningful sense of letting you have a break. Because of how this just keeps going and going, a wave of unease could be said to settle in across the release, as though clawing up the side of a rock face over a boiling swamp and wondering when all your efforts might turn into a show of pointlessness because you just fall back to the bottom. It’s a lot to handle: the anxiety-inducing nature of the high-energy but chaotic trek means it’s like not just facing your fears but getting thrown entirely into a world where everything’s shaped by them.
“The Thing About The Quiet Man” starts more quietly than one might expect, before sudden bursts of searing noise pierce whatever sense of tepid security might have started to form. The vocals on this track are a definite standout among a slew of others: there’s a sense that whoever or whatever is communicating what you’re hearing here has, in the world of the record, become completely overcome by excruciating mania.
It’s a sense — at least to me — of having just snapped, but rather than any cliched version of ending up weighed down by that much tension in this nauseating dream world, it’s more like you’re subsequently left in the corner of a darkened room like whatever precisely the cover art captures. You’re just there — the streams of noise (sometimes methodical and sometimes, well, not-so-methodical) coursing past like overpowering demonic shrieks.
The troubling thing is you could imagine there’s not much actually there in the physical world captured by the record to reflect the devastating unrest. It’s free-flowing enough that it traverses the line between physical and mental — and it pretty much just goes entirely into the world of the mental.
And in case you weren’t unsettled enough, “Melt” starts with the sound of an apparent church choir in its maelstrom, and orchestral strings begin the track’s closer before a sudden burst of the sounds of an apparent bustling crowd that seems… let’s just say on edge.