Formication: Agnosia

Harmful Records/Dark Winter, 2007

Agnosia cover

I had the misfortune of choosing to first listen to this mini-album by the UK duo known as Formication at about one o’clock in the morning, with powerful winds of 70km/h whirling at my window in the blackness. The ambience was creepy enough without the music, and when the first sounds of Agnosia began to fade in I feared it would be too much, but I listened, paralyzed.

Shifting, crunchy signals and a looping whistle-like sound immediately make it known that this will be a claustrophobic ambient album of the creepiest quality, something Coil and Elph would be proud of. Howling electronic winds are blowing a rusty gate while inaudible voices try to tempt me in strange tongues.

Just before I feel the need to end the madness, the next track floats in on airy pads and clattering found sounds. I feel calmer now, but still uneasy as the clattering seemingly picks up a rhythm but almost immediately drops it in favor of a new one.

Just as my mind starts to wonder in a paranoid manner what could be next, a soothing bell-like synth loops gorgeously. The tones sound safe and I can relax. Or can I?

A blast of dissonance, sub-bass and what sounds like schizophrenic crickets surround me. A submerged minor-key melody starts to play through all the chaos, but abruptly stops in favor of static. The melody reenters with only the crickets to compete with and a few random bursts of bass.

Maybe the nightmare is over, I think to myself as delayed melodies start to float above me. These sounds are friendly; they will guide me to light. Just then I start getting queasy… the sounds have turned on me, they are closing in on me, the voices are back, they’ve found me. They are getting closer, but I can’t move, they are whispering in my ear. The environment starts to fade away, revealing my room. Was it all just a dream, a nightmare, or maybe both?

4/5 stars

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