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THISQUIETARMY X AWAY - The Singularity, Part I & Part II

Have you ever actively avoided listening to an album, just because you knew that it would be pretty expensive  to order it with international shipping, customs and all?

Speaking for myself, this actually happens every now and then. And it includes both "The Singularity, Part I" and "The Singularity, Part II" by ambient/drone artist thisquietarmy and Voivod drummer Michel Langevin aka Away. I checked out both records (which came out in 2020 and 2021) only very briefly, and definitely not thoroughly enough to realize how worthwhile it would be to get them.

Luckily Consouling Sounds issued both albums together as a double CD, which motivated me to listen again...

THISQUIETARMY X AWAY - The Singularity, Part I & Part II (2CD) (2021)

With "Part II" being such a coherent continuation of the first album, even carrying on the very specific alphanumeric track titles, I won't even try to view them as separate pieces. There's a reason they share the same title. These albums are very clearly meant to be presented and heard together as one work.

And if you still need any more help to sell the idea to you, the packaging should seal the deal. Both Langevin and Eric Quach (guitar, synths), the man behind thisquietarmy, are also visual artists and saw to it, that this CD digipak looks at least as great as - no surprise here - any recent album from Away's main band.  

But what about the music? Will you automatically love it as a fan of the sci-fi metal legends?

My guess is nah, because the droning synths and noisy guitars here are very far from any phase of Voivod. The only kinship I can detect is one with the big cosmic wall of sound on "Phobos", where I could indeed imagine shorter versions of the "Singularity" tracks as interludes / instrumentals.
But the general sound will be much more accesible to you, if you're not coming from the Voivod angle, but think more in terms of psychedelic noise rock, ambient and drone.

Especially during the slower parts it's almost unavoidable to think of the hypnotic pulse of modern Swans, as thisquietarmy is building looping layers upon layers of thick atmosphere. Meanwhile Away is enjoying the artistic luxury of not even being necessary, because everything would already sound complete and great without drums, living up to material like Justin Broadrick's Final project. Which of course doesn't mean that you cannot improve anything here. And improve he does!

Given the rather minimalistic structures he's working with, Langevin's performance is quite versatile. We have tracks, where you wouldn't recognize him, because he sticks very close to the demands of the music, which can result in - again - dramatic swansy swells, doom metal stomping or krautrocking roboter automatik.
But then there are also those pieces, where he just says fuck it and powers straight through his full-on Voivod thrash metal style, as if he was indeed accompanying actual bass and guitar riffs of his bandmates. Or he just burst into soloing. That sounds a little bit weird and off at times, but ultimately always comes to a satisfying conclusion which absolutely makes sense. And the ending of the whole thing actually reminds me of the 90's classic "Anti Body" by Fetish 69.

All in all the get-together of these two artists successfully creates a very unique take on the drome/ambient/noise genre. The whole double album has a fantastic feel, flow and dramaturgy. There's nothing I don't like about this. Great stuff!

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