Ensemble Pearl: Ensemble Pearl

Sunn O))) and Boris members get down to Earth

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An intriguing proposition, Ensemble Pearl is comprised of a number of metal/avant-garde alumni, including Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley, Atsuo and Michio Kurihara of Japanese eccentrics Boris (the latter also a member of Ghost – no not that one, the Japanese experimental rockers), as well as multi-instrumentalists Eyvind Kang and Timb Harris, plus one William Herzog.

The members gathered initially in order to create a soundtrack to a play by French artist/director/performer Gisèle Vienne, only later deciding to commit something to tape. The result has been compared by the group to Earth’s Hex album and early Tangerine Dream, and the reference is fairly apt thanks to the large and spacious soundscapes, as well as the steady pace, sense of anticipation and dreamy textures.

That said, while many of the tracks begin peacefully enough, there is a definite confrontational streak that surfaces in the swells of distortion that slowly build from the compositions, as well as a consciously unsettling ambience that lurks within much of the music. Immersive though it is, these elements give the record a deeply unsettling underbelly that characterises the entire experience.