download only, Artificial Music Machine, 2007
“A Brief History” is a befitting title for Inversion Effect’s debut album, which contains material recorded over three years of studio sessions, rehearsals and live performances. A digital-only release, it is best described as (dark) ambient, drone and experimental, with plenty of attention given to gazing into static noise and abyssal space alike. Described as “a microcosm of the entire Artificial Music Machine label”, Inversion Effect is in fact a collaborative project between a few of the label’s various artists. The label itself is based in Austin, Texas, though the music presented here is as equally placeless as it is universal.
As with many drone and dark ambient producers, Inversion Effect relies upon a blend of electronic elements and organic sounds and instruments. Both guitar and piano play a prominent role in the album’s development through eleven tracks. Its sublime atmosphere suggests a curious theme, an impression of Nordic melancholy tempered with space opera grandeur. The endless sea and the emptiness between the stars each contribute in this journey to discover what lies between the present moment and distant Valhalla. The juxtaposition of two tracks, “A Wife’s Hope” and “Homeward”, best outlines this premise. While the former conjures images of a lonely, rocky coast with resonant synths, ocean waves and foreboding melody, painting the picture of a woman who watches the gray horizon for the return of a seafaring husband long departed, the latter’s cycling circuits and ventilation systems playing against a bottomless background hum remind of a capsule set adrift upon solar winds, perhaps toward a new world or final resting place.
Ritualistic aspects are also present in “A Brief History”, as tracks like “Cavesong (Planetarium Version)” and “In the Shadow of the Vampire” combine layers of eerie orchestral synths and tones (brass, strings), haunting melodies and hand drum rhythms with ponderous drones and penetrating noise aberrations. From the prickling night sounds of “A Static Transmission” to the tentative advance and muffled chaos of “Faces in the Hall” and looping mechanisms and radio chatter of “Puppets Part 1”, Inversion Effect demonstrates an aptness for tense atmospheres, sampled sounds and textured, fractured white noise. “777”, one of the highlights of the release, shows another side of the project with its deep, downtempo groove and relaxed piano ambience, slowly building into something of a space rock-inspired odyssey as the guitar takes prominence. Considering “A Brief History” as a whole, Inversion Effect has given listeners one of the most fluently psychedelic drone and experimental noise releases in recent memory.
— Dutton Hauhart