The first of two pieces on the first side is "Contained Etherealness." It's a clunky title to be sure but, on the other hand, it's pretty darn accurate. What has always made Caldera Lakes so interesting is the interplay between harshness, presumably supplied by Eva Aguila (who operates as Kevin Shields, the finest harsh noise artist around,) and trippy beauty which I am assuming comes from Brittany Gould's (a.k.a. Married in Berdichev) end of the bench. The piece shivers and quivers, with Aguila's trademark blips and shudders gliding ominously underneath, but it is really the glowing tones of Gould's voice that dominate, glistening and cascading across the piece. Rainsticks and reversed guitar hang around, but it really is all about the voice flowing into every nook and cranny and then how Aguila tastefully provides more confrontational counterpoints throughout. It's a piece that grows more and more gorgeous each time I listen to it. Though Aguila played things pretty soft on "Contained Etherealness," she gets her revenge on "Undefined." Heavy static rips through speakers initially, before Aguila fights to peel it back revealing Gould's mystic vocal melody and patient chiming bell. The noise teeters back and forth trying to contain its rage and frustration, grinding thunderously like the stuck ignition of a hurricane. Gould is up for it and attempts to sing above the din but carnage already has this song in it's back pocket and ain't giving it up.
"The Rune Escape" expands over the duration of side B. A series of bells jangle continually against soft but uneasy tones and unstable crackles. The duo keeps us in suspense, do we have another "Undefined" on our hands or a "Contained Etherealness"? Or something different altogether? Probably the last option, I'd say. The duo is built around aural texture but this seems more textural than usual. Or maybe it's that there are just a lot more textures at work at once in the piece. There are no vocals for a long time. It's clatter headed from two opposing arenas, acoustic and electric, somehow bonded together. As Gould's voice enters, she doesn't sing so much as speak and far to hazily to be intelligible. Aguila's electronics exhibit signs that something just isn't quite right on this spacecraft providing split second signal interruptions that seem to cause the rest of the sounds to hold their breath. And the Lakes go 3 for 3!
Caldera Lakes have definitely developed since I last heard them. Past releases featured two opposing aural personalities that wrestled constantly and dynamically and I loved it. This release finds the two integrating tenuously and I love it. Gould and Aguila continue to do no wrong, and more importantly, they continue to do something that no one else can.
This tape is absolutely worth grabbing, particularly if you've never heard this duo at work. This being it's second release, Død Univers has made a statement, putting a lot into creating this unusually fitting package for these otherworldly sounds. I'm looking forward to what both Caldera Lakes and Død Univers throw at us next.