Live Assault – TeHÔM

One thing I’ve come to really love about dark ambient is the complexity of the sounds they produce. It’s not always obvious but there are layer and layers of sounds, distortions, drones, voices, field recordings, atonal instruments, and a hundred other possibilities. When I first started listening to dark ambient in earnest, I didn’t catch a lot of the subtle layers of sound. It’s something I’ve built up over time. Now, though, I can catch quite a bit of the different layers. I’ve grown to appreciate these layers and the artists that can effectively create them. Doing a live performance, in my opinion, and being able to pull off the many subtle layers as well as the innate improvisational is even more impressive. I’ve only heard a few live performances but there is something powerful in them, something raw and hungry. Live Assault, the forty-seven-minute performance by TeHÔM, is no different.

The album is made up of a single, long track, but within that track are subtle changes in tempo and medium that signal different “songs” to the listeners. It’s as compelling as it is powerful. The live sounds are more raw and unpolished that they might have been in a studio. They don’t have the refined, almost ethereal quality to them. Forgoing finesse, TeHÔM assaults his listeners with bombastic and industrialized beats. Even through the industrial sound, there are hints at a higher, more ritualized meaning. Each “song” has a different style, almost as if each of them are calls to different beings or attempts to reach a different mental state.

With a stage name like TeHÔM, the listener, I think, can expect a few things within this performance. We can expect acoustic drums, recalling the ancients in their uses for ritual ceremonies, we can expect a spectral, alien sound that recalls the mythical waters before creation. We can expect vaguely religious voices calling to us from beyond those waters. All those things we get and more. We not only get that ancient, ritualistic sounds but we get lots of nihilistic elements as well that balance the whole thing out.

I enjoyed the way the “songs” were broken up and presented. I felt like each song could make its impact on the listener and prepare it for the next one. The presentation of the material is excellent. Each part builds on the others and reaches a terrifying and heart pounding conclusion, with the last ten minutes or so being some of the most authentic chaotic and hysterical sounds I’ve heard. Each sound carried the weight of all the other sounds before, carrying on a message from being to end. I also felt like the presentation of the music made it feel more alive and vibrant. It grew and matured as if it were a living thing, the music, from the start to the end.

TeHÔM does a good job on this performance. It’s both engaging and terrifying. It’s brilliant with its uses of post-apocalyptic elements juxtaposed against ancient, ethereal elements. It’s nihilistic and hateful and it’s damn good. Single track albums can cause problems, a hard truth that I’ve learned, but TeHÔM can overcome that issue, indeed he makes the potential weak point of the album his strength. Live Assault would not be nearly as good, as impactful, and as engaging if the performance was broken up into different tracks. With the one track, we can stay entranced by the music. Each time I listen to this, it gets better, the music feel more raw and vibrant, and the atmosphere gets heavier and heavier. I would have called it a ritual rather than an assault but I think that’s just splitting hairs. Overall, it’s time well spent.
For Fans Of: Monocube, Dronny Darko, Tvlpa

TeHOM

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Live Assault was released August 22nd, 2017 by Cyclic Law.

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