CD-R, Adeptsound, 2010
Schuster is Tim Bayes, one half of Zilverhill (previously reviewed here), original member of Dieter Müh and veteran of eighties cassette culture. Like many of his generation, the current fascination with and insatiable demand for obscure eighties material has prompted or made easier a return to the fray. Yet although the neo-eighties zeitgeist favours the return of such veterans, Schuster’s work bears no trace of crowd-pleasing revivalisism. This is a serious, well-crafted contemporary release which gradually insinuates itself into your consciousness.
There are multiple layers of sound in Schuster’s tracks, and different layers seem to predominate on different listens. There is a misty, mirage-like feeling to the album which never feels quite the same twice (which in present times is a worthwhile quality in itself). “BD’s Lament” is a very slow, gradually accumulating mass of high frequencies, background voltage hum, and other less definable elements. Eventually an English female voice looms indistinctly out of the murk. The overall effect is simultaneously nightmarish and dream-like.
The centerpiece is “I Am Living in My Own Corpse”, a twenty-minute plus dark epic which never outstays its welcome but just accumulates graceful power. It’s a droning, rumbling passage through inner space, lightened by bell-like sounds near the end. Things turn relatively nastier on the equally sinisterly-titled “Your House is Marked”. This is a much heavier and darker track, based around a heavily reverbed bassline, augmented by American radio chatter and an ethnic sample, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of Muslimgauze.
“Manasarovar” features massive gong-like impacts reverberating in a vast soundfield. It’s hard to say exactly what Schuster is doing but the music manages to create grand, cinematic impressions using very subtle tricks and techniques. This is best heard on “Burdened”, the album’s (anti)-climax. This is based around a pitch-dark, intermittent drone gradually ceding space to a subtle process sound far down in the mix, creating the sense of the sound being pulled towards its own extinction – the fact that the fall is in such slow motion only makes the eventual crash (which we never hear) seem more catastrophic.
In short this is exactly the range of sonic illusions, textures and associated perceptions that many ‘dark ambient’ producers aspire to but don’t reach. It may or not may not be a mapping of internal psychological states but the result is a work that is half-familiar and half-uncanny, a masterful and seductive dislocation.
— Alexei Monroe