Back in the day, I was a sucker for anything that smacked of dark atmospherics. You know, the kind that hinted at ruined cathedrals and ivy-covered monasteries, barren wildernesses, haunted factories, ominous presences, alien rituals, etc. via power electronics, monastic chants, and other sonic elements.
But over the past couple of years, I’ve drifted away from that. Probably because I discovered the likes of Godspeed You Black Emperor!, A Silver Mt. Zion, and their ilk, which contained all of the majestic atmospherics and none of the cheesy goth/horror theatrics (not to mention the potentially troubling paganisms often contained within such music).
Perhaps it’s because Godspeed et al. have been on extended hiatus, but I’ve found myself becoming re-interested in those earlier sounds. Case in point, Desiderii Marginis’ That Which Is Tragic and Timeless, which takes its title from a Mark Rothko quote (bonus points there). As the title implies, this is dark, dank, atmospheric stuff, hinting at all of the aforementioned imagery.
A lot of dark-ambient music can get ponderous after awhile, and while That Which Is Tragic and Timeless has its fair share of deep metallic drones, clanking chains, and other sounds that seem to serve no purpose other than trying to convince the listener that they’re listening to “otherworldly” music, the album can also be surprisingly listenable and accessible. It seems like such a simple thing to include some acoustic guitar amidst the dark atmospherics, but the melodic effect this has on the album is quite noticeable, and very welcome.
“Worlds Apart” opens the album with its strongest moment, as metallic gongs and clangs swirl about while bursts of noise and static can be heard in the distance, creating an alien and forbidding atmosphere not unlike Tarkovsky’s Stalker. Then suddenly, acoustic guitar and lighter synth elements make an appearance, and the song becomes something much more stately and majestic, perfectly encapsulating the sentiment of the album’s title. “The Love You Find In Hell” continues on this note, with acoustic guitar, factory sounds, and dreamlike synth melodies progressing in almost militant fashion, as groaning feedback plays underneath.
Granted, this stuff still might be too pretentious for most folks. Then again, if you want music that isn’t difficult to handle, for any reason, you should probably stay far away from Cold Meat Industry. But I actually find a strange and curious integrity in music such as this, that has a particular, albeit apocalyptic vision and produces music that is completely and wholly subsumed by it.