Review: spaceseer/Hiverlucide – Φαλαινομανιτάρι
Gargantuan, dripping—a deafening moan rippling from off the coast.
From its description, background, and press-release, Φαλαινομανιτάρι is ostensibly about the encroachment and destruction of man by the “Shroomwhale” depicted on its cover. The music is suitably dense and suffocating—droning, aquatic ambience brought to boil by lightning sharp synth-work, all paired with stark, bold cover design and artwork. On the surface, it seems not entirely detached from the colossal Ahab or Leviathan-era Mastodon—nautical, heavy and oppressive. Beyond the immediate aesthetics of its packaging, however, it manages to incorporate and ruminate on themes of cosmic pessimism and horror purely through its delivery.
The record begins with “Cetacea Hericium”—a title which instantly links us to two common devices in cosmic horror; the depths of the ocean, and the visual sprawl of fungi. An incredibly deep low-end countered with high-pitched distortion, like a harsh breeze rippling through a set of masts. Though undeniably harsh listening, Φαλαινομανιτάρι distances itself from many releases in the style by its relative clarity. Decipherable arpeggios flit throughout the mix like the deliberate step of a spider.
In the 2013 film The Borderlands, two Christian laymen investigate reports of demonic possession at a rural church. The ordinary trappings and tropes found within Abrahamic-centered, post-The Exorcist horror films are radically flipped when the “demonic possession” is revealed to be emanating from an ancient entity below the church, whose mouth makes up the tunnels of the church’s catacombs. A common reveal within cosmic horror—something inconceivable, something perverting natural laws and something that should not exist, revealing itself to human perception with horrific results.
Φαλαινομανιτάρι stands firmly within this tradition. Its incorporation of both whale song and recordings of mushrooms, distorted until near-indecipherable, articulates this perversion of senses: natural sounds twisted beyond recognition, the sound of a hidden form being revealed. It’s a record wherein something old and powerful makes itself known, something antediluvian and uncaring.
The second track, “Slowly Collecting Substrate For The Giant Hercium Whale”, inverts many of the ideas found on “Cetacae Hericium”. Tinny and searing, a sweeping, discordant guitar scale is played, like the most corrupt and sharp blues slide you’ve ever heard. Crystalline synths penetrate the clouded mix—images of glowing fungi flowing on the Shroomwhale’s back like coral.
Eugene Thacker describes in his work the “Horror of Philosophy”, which he describes as the knowledge of our limits to understand the world and its contents. Φαλαινομανιτάρι is music which evokes that same horror, here contextualized by the arrival of something antithetical to human perception, and musically represented by some of the best-sounding, enveloping tracks you’ll hear this year.
Φαλαινομανιτάρι is out on July 21st via Syrup Moose Records .