061180 - The Dream of a God
061180 is not a stranger to Brutal Resonance. His EP, I’m Considering Being a Cloud, was reviewed and received a solid 8 from writer and crew in 2014. His unique brand of ambient, experimental drone music and sound is different, interesting, pretty and largely unclassifiable. Perfect for Brutal Resonance’s audience. His new work, The Dream of a God, is certainly different and unclassifiable, but not so much pretty, and more terrifying than interesting.
The Dream of a God is a concept album John Parnell, the sole member of 061180 says he dreamed up while he was making I’m Considering Being a Cloud. His idea, he says, was “…to score a movie. Not just any movie; but a sleazy grind house type feature.” That’s exactly what The Dream of a God is: a sonic horror movie that manages to be even scarier than if it had visuals attached to it.
Parnell as 061180 has released many works since he began with electronic done music in 2013, but none have been as conceptually ornate and cohesive as The Dream of a God. As experimental electronic drone music is his foundation, this album has allowed him to use many more styles and modes of creating sounds. Musically, punk, drone, rock and even classical are styles are used in this “score”. In fact, this piece is less a soundtrack than a score, but it leans more towards a sound score than a musical one. This flexibility in the scoring allowed Parnell to use every tool in his sonic arsenal: chainsaws, guitar feedback, swinging chains, water, machinery, you name it. He even created a promotional script for the “movie”: "Based on true events…in the summer of 1973, a small town in Louisiana was host to a string of grisly murders. Without a shred of evidence left at the scenes, much of the town’s population thought it was something sinister lurking in the forest. Authorities were horrified to discover the murders were the work of a bloodthirsty cult!” This was not a real crime (we checked), but with the level of detail Parnell produced in the score, it might as well have been.
Most of the tracks on The Dream of a God are grouped together with similar titles. The first group of ten, called "A Long Torturous Night", part I, II, etc. set quite a tone for what they are; different types of white noise. Full of creaks, cracks, indistinguishable background noise and Parnell’s beloved drone, these tracks convey terror and have the listener straining to listen with a minimum of sound or direction. By track four, “A Long Torturous Night (part IV)”, distressed human voices are clearly audible and some sort of whispered chant can also be heard. The distinguishable sounds continue to build until track 10, “A Long Torturous Night (part X) Beth’s Turn” where the first screams and violent sounds are heard. From here the album toggles between quiet, almost peaceful drone tones and the screams of supposed victims. The music does get louder in places, such as in “All Monsters are Human (part III)”, which contains some heavy guitar feedback and echo effects before it devolves into more screams and chaos in the next track.
The album follows a quite linear time trajectory, and thus most of the action occurs in the “All Monsters Are Human” and “Hell Has a Price” groupings in the middle and end. Due to all the sounds and voices, it will be very clear to the audience that they are listening to the main action of a horror movie, and it is difficult not to get sucked in. The absence of visuals actually increases the fear factor and creates a feeling of being in the dark, not knowing what will happen next. This visceral effect is very strong; the evocative quality is heightened in the spaces between notes and sounds. This type of composition is always the mark of a great piece, but the context of a horror movie allows Parnell to consciously use these spaces and make the audience feel them even more. The album ends with a grouping called “Melancholy Exile”, where the inevitable denouement would normally occur in a movie. In this case, it feels as though the audience is left with a picture of a serial killer contemplating his next move.
The Dream of a God must be listened to as one full piece in order to be full appreciated, just like one watches a horror movie. Unlike the grindhouse style Parnell was going for, however, this sonic masterpiece achieves true terror and something much more dark and visceral than what is usually elicited by that genre. The Dream of a God may be one of the best horror movies ever released, visuals or no visuals.Mar 03 2016
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance
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