Although the monstrous form on the cover of Re:’s latest album, Alms, might look like the wooden Wicker Man from the cult British film, the band’s actual muse is decidedly more post-industrial. Working mostly from field recordings, micro-recordings of various metal manipulations and unbottled white noise, the band creates a tiny dissonant landscape that flows shambolic and free form from the speakers. The opening track, “Golem,” is a mixture of jet fuel and crank case oil. Rusty and cavernous at one moment, clattering and oppressive the next, the song contains a metered pace, but no attempt at melody and very little thought given to rhythm. The track features a cringe inducing punctuation that sounds like a million steel fingernails all scraping across the same blackboard. My teeth are gritting just thinking about it…
Later, on “On Golden Pond,” the band creates a propulsive beat by overlapping the sound of boats mooring forcefully against a dock. This cacophony is combined with ambient creaking floorboards, stretched guitar strings and what sounds like a short ping pong volley. It’s a fascinating song that feels remarkably more organic than many of the metal-derived tracks, despite being composed in roughly the same manner.
The album’s sole “human” piece is “Pawk,” a loping piano arrangement that flirts briefly with the various electronic effluence and detritus that seeks to subvert it. The song is ominous and somber, but lends a pleasing, if not uplifting, air to the fractured paranoid album around it.
Alms is yet another highlight in Constellation Records’ beauty-born-from-horror catalog. But whereas most of the label’s roster only lets the modern age act as the primary influence on their songwriting, RE: snaps up grimy snippets, direct from the world’s dissected remains. It’s not going to be for everyone, but any listener with a taste for broadening their sonic palette should look this one up.