Donor Lens - Desire Path
May 6, 2022
Obscure and nontraditional instrumentation can often be gimmicky or distracting. However, sometimes the right artists can use these nonmusical sound objects to create something remarkable.
The album opens with the oscillating drones of GATHERING I. The listener is unable to determine if this is something musical or something mechanical, though the album notes indicate that a medical bone saw was used as an audio source, which answers the question in a rather frightening fashion. Soon a chorus of these drones joins in; it feels like they are trying to find that point of unity; however, they never quite get there, instead creating an eerie detuned dissonance. This detuned sound almost has a nostalgic quality, like a sad toy keyboard whose batteries are slowly dying. The chorus of drones soon disappears, leaving a single note that lasts slightly longer before dying off into nothingness.
INTERVENTION II begins with the return of the bone saw drones, slowly coming together and separating in this kind of beautiful instability, like overlapping waves on a body of water that keep building and building in strength only to be broken by the right wave at the wrong time. Soon a sort of rhythmic percussion joins the fray, and in turn, the drones start to take on a rhythm of their own; they remain constant, but the pulsating drumbeat distorts them in such a way that under the right circumstances, this could be almost danceable, almost. As this beat marches the track towards its conclusion, hints of distorted vocals are hidden underneath it all. Are they really there, or is it the drones playing tricks on us? Things fade out before that truth is revealed.
The track opens up with static and hints of a siren in the distance before the rhythmic symphony of drones returns, signaling the true beginning of CONSEQUENCES III. The pulsing effect in the lower register sets the listener in a state of flux and uneasiness and while the detuned chorus occupies the higher registers. There are moments of unity here; the chorus almost manages to converge on a single note a few times but never quite manages to get there; the uncertain nature of these tones adds to that immense feeling of unease. There is also a weakness to these drones; they fade in and out as if struggling under the effort of creating one unified tone. The track ends with a descent into some washed-out sounds that soon fade away.
GATHERING IV begins with almost subaudible drones before strange machine-like noises begin to enter the fray; it is a combination of metallic banging and engine whines and is certainly not a sign of good things to come. The mechanical whine continues to flow around the soundscape, occasionally interrupted by the delicate whispers of static and that thunderous metallic pounding. Once again, there are hints of something human buried deep under the sounds, but it’s truly impossible to tell if that’s true or just ghosts in the noise.
INTERVENTION V signals the return of those high-pitched insect-like drones, but once again, they are not alone; the rhythmic beating of oscillators accompanies them. As before, the chorus of tones struggles to hold itself together, slowly drifting in and out of sync while never quite reaching perfection. There are human voices here as well; they seem to sing and chant beneath the chaos, their words unknown, but the effect is haunting, like stumbling into some horrific ritual in service of an ancient unknowable entity. Perhaps these are the voices that were almost audible earlier? It is possible that they have been there all along, waiting for the perfect moment to reveal themselves.
The album closes with CONSEQUENCES VI, which opens with the sounds of movement, like something rotating just quickly enough to make a sound. Before long, the drones return, lower and even more unstable than before. The percussive strikes cause the entire soundscape to shift and change as if the sound waves themselves are ripples on a pond. Despite this, the sounds are trying to pull themselves together to form something cohesive, and it is the closest they have come to being traditionally melodic throughout the whole album. Unfortunately, they still struggle under their own energy, teetering on the precipice of sonic destruction. This final effort proves to be their swansong, as that final triumphant chorus quickly devolves into a few sputters before silence takes over.
SPIRITUAL INTERVENTION is not an easy album to experience. However, it manages to effortlessly toe the line between horrific and transcendent in a way that makes it one of the year's most essential noise releases.