4.23.19 by Ryan Masteller
IF we begin with a Cloister of Trials – and we do – then we’re touching glyphs and shit in a certain order to get at that sweet, sweet magical weaponry. But the power is continuous – it pulses through ancient conduits, ramping up in intensity long after the ordeal is complete. Before long, it is a blinding white light and overwhelming static, enveloping your mind and making you wonder if you were ready to wield whatever power you’ve now uncovered. The answer is probably no … but maybe yes? There’s an undercurrent of reliability that you can latch onto, something that’s still there once the concentration of stimuli mercifully recedes. If you let that elemental energy into your mind, you’ll have all the necessary grounding you need to navigate “Narryer Gneiss Terrane.”
That’s all “Medulla (Cloister of Trials),” the opening bombardment of a track from Bath Consolidated’s new Orange Milk tape, and it’s a doozy, an extended feeling I imagine Tidus felt the first time he summoned a freaking aeon in “Final Fantasy X.” But once the magick is in him/us/them/Bath Consolidated, he/we/they/Bath Consolidated rises/rise/rise/rises to the occasion and allows the power to simmer, to flow through the body, to react to and reach each chakra in a holistic and ever-strengthening whirlwind of perpetual force. But it’s a terrifying ordeal, one that shoves the power wielder out into a visibility that’s incredibly uncomfortable and unexpected.
There’s anger in there too.
It’s not crazy that Noelle Johnson, the human being–turned–mage behind Bath Consolidated, has adopted the stance of superimposing the millennial identity over ancient texts – the Bible, “Inferno” – opting to subject that identity to the ravages inherent in those texts. What happens? That’s what Johnson’s asking, and that’s what we’re discovering. In Philip K. Dick’s “Valis,” the “Black Iron Prison” is what you’d discover if you superimposed the past over the present over the future, ultimately understanding that “everyone who had ever lived was literally surrounded by the iron walls of the prison; they were all inside it and none of them knew it.”
But I get why there’s all that “Final Fantasy” imagery. The protagonists in those games are all pent-up, roiling balls of id, angry to the point of bursting, needing guidance (or something) to unlock their potential. “Narryer Gneiss Terrane” illustrates that journey toward understanding … “gneissly.”
I’ll show myself out.
“Narryer Gneiss Terrane” is an absolute stunner, an electronic/noise/death-sample hybrid that fills your mind and your heart like you’d expect it to. Out May 3 on Orange Milk.