Art is a reflection of life. Life is a journey. Therefore, it is logical to connect art with “the journey.” Each piece of art, each song, each line of text is a journey, a search for meaning, for significance. Sometimes on those journeys we do not, cannot, find what it is that we seek and we spiral into rage and emptiness. Other times we are triumphant and have our lives enriched with meaning and purpose. We are all on a journey, even if we don’t know it. We are all searching for something, moving from what we were to what we can become. We leave a trail of that journey wherever we go, leaving indelible marks on others and on the landscape we cross. Our journey shapes our world, as it were. Even though it may be but in the smallest of ways. Never more clear has that sentiment been that when I listened to micro by Silent Chaos, a dark ambient duo out of Italy. This album felt like the first step in an epically long and grand journey, though at the same time, the album never gives you the sense that you will find what you seek. As a true reflection of life, both that of the artist and that of the listener, despair and emptiness lurk in every dark corner.
What first struck about the album is the format and method in which they frame the journey the album takes. Dark electronica and lower case drone would not have been my first choice, but I’m not a musician so what the fuck do I know? Silent Chaos clearly are musicians, you can tell from the quality of the sound and the production. micro is not a random assortment of sounds cobbled together with lots of loops and reverb to make it sound interesting and deep. Silent Chaos is not that sort of modern art rubbish. This is chaos with a purpose, a purpose so vague and shadowy that it may well seem like chaos to those of us who don’t understand, or can’t understand, would truly see it as chaos. In truth, even though the name of the project is Silent Chaos, everything on the album has an order. It is a wild assortment of sounds and loops and drones and percussions but each nail and screw is placed perfectly so. micro is order out of chaos.
Now one must ask, what is the journey we are being taken on in micro? Where are we going? What is the objective? Who is leading this journey? There are so many questions my mind had as the album wore on, as I listened over and over. Often albums about journeys are personal and specific to the listener, if the album is really good, but this one was very pointed. This was a directed meditative effort. There is no meandering through your conscious with the album. No. The beginning of the album lulls you into a sense of security, then rips your conscious away from you. It disconnects you from your body in a metaphysically violent way, then plunges you into the abyss.
One thing I will note before I continue is the percussion on the album. Percussion is either very good on dark ambient or very bad. It has a narrative purpose or it’s noise that gets in the way of that purpose. The percussion on micro is a good, it’s natural, it’s unnatural. It’s strange and it’s soothing. The percussion, at times, takes over the album and overwhelms the auditory senses. Then, like a storm, vanishes. What does the percussion mean? What is its purpose in the album? What does it represent? Does it represent the coming of something or someone? How does it sound so natural yet so disturbing at the same time? So many questions. I think the percussion is a part of the human consciousness that follows it, that creeps behind it, stalks it for some unknowable purpose. It’s something in all of use. We are running from it, or searching for it, or hiding from it. The echo and the reverb of the album permeates everything, as I said it overwhelms the senses. Is this primordial thing finally catching up to us? Or are we catching up to it? Have we now decided to follow it? To stalk it?
We are delving into something, each song feels like we are going down into a new layer of the earth, or a new layer of consciousness. While there can be no end to such a journey it is important, so the album leads me to believe, that we go anyways. Life is really a never ending journey, through fields of beauty and sewers of muck. There is beauty and there is ugliness in everything. No matter what we seek, we ought to keep looking. Never look away. micro perfectly symbolizes the ugly parts of the journey with the briefest of glimpses at power electronics, sound so chaotic and unsettling and loud it’s hard to listen to if you are not going in knowing.
Much of the album is devoted to tribal like sounds, loops percussion. Yet it’s not of any discernable origin. The sounds simply feel old, as if they are something that has been buried in our DNA for millions of years only now to be given actual sound. The sounds are wild and urbanized, using instruments that have become our tribal instruments today in the world of electronica. Admittedly, I’m not a fan when it comes to electronica, it always makes me feel as though I’m about to walk into a strange club scene in a movie, and it always sounds out of place next to nearly all other music but it works here. I don’t know how. I don’t know how Silent Chaos is able to blend electronica with dark ambient and not make it sound contrived and forced, but they did it. I will give them credit where credit is due. I still am not an electronica fan, but I like Silent Chaos.
What is the monster at the end of the story? The further we go into the music, the more hellish and unnatural it sounds, the more aggressive and fast paced the beat becomes. We are on a runaway train and we can’t stop. Are we being dragged? What awaits us at the end of the journey? What silent horror lurks in the shadow of the drum beats? What hides in the rain like static?
What if there is something waiting for us? Or, more terrifying, what if there isn’t? As the science fiction master Arthur C. Clarke said, “Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.” Does something exist that the center of the music of Silent Chaos, or is there just a void? Is there nothing. Are we, in fact, the monsters in our own stories? Listen to micro yourself and find out. Share your thoughts as well, I know I can’t be the only one to have reached such a conclusion. micro is also, according to the artists, the first part in a two part series (micro – MACRO). I can’t wait to see where this journey really ends.
Highlights: Odysseus’s Journey, Technological Monk
If you enjoyed this try: Dronny Darko, KeOSz, Valanx
Support the artists!
- Odysseus’s Journey
- Ab Origenes
- Technological Monk