SHROUD OF VAPOUR – Suicide Forest Sessions CD Review by Musique Machine (Roger Batty)
Shroud Of Vapour is a five piece collaborative project that brings together it’s members from the Japanese noise scene for a moody, mostly subdued and often chilling two track release on respected Singapore based noise/experimental label 4iB Records. This is the project’s first release.
The release comes in the form of a CD release, which features two tracks, each of these run between fifty & nineteen minutes a piece. And I guess it’s best to describe what we have here as a fairly loose & often woozy mix of unsettling & stripped electro ambience, subdued noisy improv/noise making, eerier vocalising, and the odd venture into more structured/noisy affair.
The release takes it’s name from Aokigahara, The Suicide Forest or Sea of Trees – a 35-square-kilometre forest situated on the northwest base of Mount Fuji in Japan. The forest is associated with demons in Japanese myth, and has been the site of many suicides (give or take around a 100 most years since the late 1980’s). Both tracks here were recorded live in the forest, using just battery powered & non electric elements.
The project brings together the following: Hiroshi Hasegawa (of C.C.C.C., Astro, and many other projects), ROHCO (also of C.C.C.C. & Astro), L’Eclipse Nue (Daniel Sine) & Yoshiko Honda.
Track one is entitled “In Memory Of” & comes in just shy of the forty nine minute mark. It languidly morphs and melts, wavering and haunting at times, almost operatic sing-song female wordless vocalising, through to stretched out & thinned noise tonal drift, onto sudden raised noise amassed textures, through to hazed & shapeless mixes of textural details, onto reduced down slightly spacey synth drift, & haunting feedback ebb ‘n’ shift. All in all the tracks are quite effective in it’s drifting, drowsy & slightly unsettling vibe, and one can almost imagine lost spirits floating & slowly shifting through the suicide forests landscape.
Track two comes in the form of “If It Pleases The Deceased”, and this track is just over nineteen minutes, which sees the five piece move towards a slightly more noise-bound feel – though it still has a haunted/loose vibe about it. The track opens with a mixture of walking or heart-beat pulse textured detail, & this is battered by on/off slams of what sounds like an organ fed through a distortion pedal – around this we get layers of ghostly moans & subdued female vocalising. As the track progresses, more wavering & sad harmonic keyboard hits can be made out, but around this you keep getting hits of textured & eerier noise matter, and retro synth flotsam & jetsam – and after a time the harmonic element departs. I guess you’d say the track falls somewhere between noised up ambience, weird séance like vocalising, and possibly a 60’s psychedelic freakout at it’s most loose and stripped down. The track is ok I guess, but I did find my attention starting to wander in places, so it certainly wasn’t as effective as the first.
So in summing up the idea of recording in the suicide forest is certainly an intriguing one, and the first track manages to capture the vibe of such a place nicely – I just felt there was a little less thought & atmosphere in the second track. So if you enjoy loose and often chilling sonics which hover somewhere between (mostly subdued) noise-making, improv and noisy ambience, you may well get something from this.