Donor Lens - Desire Path
May 6, 2022
Renunciant begins with fizzling distortion alongside a sharp, pulsing instrument. Guitar rolls like thunder warming the background of the soundscape. We join up once again with Sawak, the experimental post-rock outfit based in Krakow. The band lets the instrumentation hang there before a piano cuts in sharply, with a melody mirroring that of the rumbling guitar. That piano in turn gives rise to a chorused synth, settling on top as if it were a neon-industrial title sequence for some 80s action flick. A scene is very quickly set. Sawak do not want us to stagnate it seems, as a beautiful polyphonic synth sound rises from the menacing instrumentation, full of vigour and promise. It’s sickly sweet sound and melody infiltrates it’s heavier, more bleak counterparts. The piano stabs at the same four keys, and all of a sudden what’s solid turns to a quivering mass in front of us. Metal scrapes along metal, guitars try to shatter their way through the visage, instruments squeal and scream as they are caught in the chaos. The mind deviates from a band jamming themselves into euphoria, to whatever unique and fantastic scene that this palimpsestic sequence creates in one’s head. The band hold steady, each throwing all number of sounds at one another. The guitars rise above the cacophonous sound, trying to find form and structure. Arpeggiating machines lumber to the forefront of the wreckage and are slowly dashed away by the wind.
A distant jangling can be heard. One can never know, before the sounds reveal themselves what it will be, Sawak are just about as likely to produce some sublime behemoth hell bent on destruction than some galloping angel with heavenly bells ringing ad infinitum, especially in this project it seems. The jangling slowly starts to screech like a slow, old train in an empty station. It becomes even more dissonant, and a sound that is once again hard to identify fills the scene with a breathy bass tone, trickling water can be heard like some Lynchian soundtrack of reverbed, non-sequitur noises. A different screeching lunges at us slowly. The wind that blows pierces the film through to a distorted soundscape of scratching clips. A robotic yawn fills the stereo field, as if a great ship is flying above as we watch from the sewer. The sonic references to otherworldly, sci-fi atmospheres is apparent sporadically throughout.
A timid, yet promising sound pokes its head through. A mess of notes, none of which seem a cause for alarm. We grab on to what little sustenance we can when it comes to joyful sound. Another high-pitched synth barks a small tune, it’s last note lingering heavily. Instruments find a basis from this small tune, as more polished, unsure sounds fall from it. It becomes slowly more prevalent. A calming, almost playful sequence ensues. This atmosphere is broken once again by an alternating organ motif and the same slow, pulsing instrument from the start. These instruments pull the 46-minute song back to a dark, somnambulistic journey. Frantic drumming hammers in the room next to us, the player just out of our eyeline as we travel through this environment of unease.
A cacophony of voices sound, speaking about religious misinterpretation and supernatural powers. A sound stutters and spurts its way into the forefront. It has low, harsh tones, and almost sounds like a broken zipper at points, permeating the melodic sounds. A broken riff plays on a loop, a shouting voice disappears and reappears in front of us. Are we voluntarily walking away from it? Is it pacing up and down and coming into earshot every so often? Is the place we inhabit one of the real world? Or have we entered a strange state of being or of mind? The loop tries to smooth itself out, but remains stricken by faulty equipment and crackling cables. The crackling starts to sound more natural and organic, like the chirping of crickets, or it may just be that the listener is desperate to find life in something other than crazed, shouting voices. The melody changes to a grand almost regal one, but stays pinned down by the juddered, broken wiring of the system it plays through. Voices sound either side of the glitching instruments. Childlike voices wobble around the stereo field. Any feeling of relatability towards them is dashed by their eerie, tremoloed voices.
A guitar sounds in the dark, smouldering and bouncing off of metallic surroundings. Again, the sounds of a band playing in a room start to penetrate the strange journey we find ourselves on. Their notes compliment each other, painting a dusty, melancholic scene before the listener. Strings float down from above. Drums convey this sense of struggling and frustration, with slow, methodical hits. Sawak perform another faultless crescendo, moving from lethargic, disjointed instrumentation to an emotive and passionate breaking point, feeding all of their energy into one amorphous push of sound, reversed guitars writhe over one another and a million minuscule machines squeal and squeak in unison. The sound falls out. Loud feedback turns into the beautiful polyphonic synth from near the start. Once again, a counterpointing of menacing minor sounds and an explorative and triumphant trill of synth. With that, the band rescind.
Sawak have created yet another perennially engaging piece in Renunciant. Leaning slightly more towards more optimistic and almost psychedelic characteristics than their last outing, this one sees them take on an almost hour long project with poise and expression.
Pre-order here: https://sawak.bandcamp.com/album/renunciant