Christopher Ernst, aka Penalune, clearly doesn't want for inspiration – in the 18 months of his project's lifetime he's delivered two well-received albums for STL's Something imprint, the only outside artist to feature on the label; a further 40-minute collaboration with violinist Kenny Wang and the inauguration of his Voodoo Down label demonstrate Ernst's prolific nature.
With Ernst's fourth missive, Broken20 follow on from John Cohen's 'Tar River' DVD release (B20_05) in bringing Penalune's cinematic drone to the screen, as 'Not All Clouds Are White' will constitute an album-length audiovisual experience, with imagery courtesy of visual artist Reid Bingham.
Sonically Penalune plumbs murky depths, retrieving meditative groans, queasy washes and near-hidden ritualistic rhythmic patterns, providing a Lynchian backdrop with devil in every detail. Opener 'Feel Of Red' sweeps in with squashed, oppressive pulses before thick fuzzy synths announce an eerie whole-tone scale that both elevates and subjugates. 'Taste of Blue' evokes early Scorn, Terry Riley and Angelo Badalamenti in equal measure, while 'Stars and Satellites' piles the pressure ever more with sheeted white noise and reverberation ad infinitum.
'Not All Clouds Are White' follows, conjuring rain-soaked hauntologies and wasps' nest antagonism. 'Outrun The Sun' harks back to the album opener, with slo-mo reverse gasps and morose bass pulses etched in pristine sound design, whereas 'Cthonic' allows the pulse to slow with a more melodic drift and some closer, tangible textures. 'My Gang Will Get You' rounds matters off with fifteen minutes of tension, threat and eventual release through punishing industrial drum work.
'Not All Clouds Are White' is a severe, unfriendly and brutal listen, but as a whole it represents purity of vision and precision in execution, generating exactly the sense of distraction and unease its creator intends.
Each purchase of the physical DVD will ship with a download code for mp3s of the piece.