The Elderbranch Campaign - Soundtracks For The Aftermath of Violence
Drone/Dark Ambient musicians The Elderbranch Campaign have released their latest work, titled Soundtracks for the Aftermath of Violence. This album, self-described by the artist as “…a collection of interpretive soundscapes chronicling the days and weeks following the events presented in [Audio Chronicles of the Drumhead] [are] an inward view of the gradual decay we all experience when confronted with the civilized incivility of institutionalized state sanctioned violence.”
The Elderbranch Campaign have certainly given us an emotionally challenging record this time around, with desolate landscapes (mostly) skillfully interwoven with high frequency found object samples, low frequency rumbles and throbs, and chunky mid frequency drones. The first song on the record comes in at a whopping 19:34, which is not uncommon in the world of drone or dark ambient music. As I Walked From Your Grave The World Pierced My Skin is an admittedly simple piece of work at first glance that I began to appreciate more upon the second listen.
The initial five minutes of the track feel a bit cluttered in terms of the number of instruments or samples, and I find it hard to really get a feel for what is going on with the track. Eventually, chiming bells or plucked metal objects enter the mix, adding more depth and dynamism to the piece. Synth throbs and drones sound akin to mechanical choirs looming in the bottom of the soundstage. Windy synth leads us into a guitar section that sounds appropriately somber and forlorn. Finally, the choir synth begins to play a major part in the track, rising harmoniously among the synth and guitar bits. Low frequencies resonate throughout the soundstage, and finally I begin to feel that this song is really paying off. Unfortunately, the last minute or so of the track is occupied by a slow, compressed fadeout that doesn’t serve to extend the high point of the climax we just reached.
Perpetually Stumbling Over The Same Holes – Your Final Hours in Overlapping Loops is introduced after the disappointing segue. Chirpy samples and ethereal, singing bowl-like synth takes us into the experience on a high point. I feel this track becomes progressively more mechanical as the seconds drip away, and soon, we are awash again in windy synth and desolate, icy drones that surround us on all sides. We move into the lower frequencies again with a cacophony of samples and guitar drones that pass by like a swarm of locusts, never quite leaving the soundstage but dwelling on the very edge of hearing. Sonically, this second track is much more complicated than the first, and it is texturally compelling. Overall, it redeems the record as a whole, and what I feel was a weaker first half of the Elderbranch Campaign’s latest release. This is what I felt at least, before I heard the same gradual fade out at the end of the song that felt lazy and contrived when compared to the rest of the composition of this track.
Because this is a highly emotional work, I think I should dedicate a few of my thoughts on the work’s concept here as well, separate from the sonic analysis of the two tracks on the release. The Elderbranch Campaign have certainly been true to form in demonstrating the overwhelming and enshrouding feeling of violence and inhumanity, but I feel that the record could have exploited some of the higher points of the tracks to really shock us and take advantage of our lack of preparedness to really drive the point home. Records on similar themes have been reviewed before on Brutal Resonance, such as suizidality’s Kristen, which was both shocking and entirely immersive experience. I think the Elderbranch Campaign project could learn a few things from other artists in the drone, dark ambient, and noise scene. Overall, Soundtracks for the Aftermath of Violence was cohesive, but lacked expressive character because it didn’t take full advantage of key moments, instead relying entirely on texture and pre-existing genre tropes. This is ultimately a release that fans of the existing the Elderbranch Campaign catalogue will enjoy, but it may not be adventurous or innovative enough to ensnare new listeners to this artist or to the genre in general.
May 11 2015
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance
Share this review
Buy this release