A-Sun Amissa return with The Gatherer, their first release since 2013 and a debut for Belgium-based label Consouling Sounds.
Led by Richard Knox (Shield Patterns, The Rustle of the Stars, Gizeh Records) and featuring a wide array of collaborators, The Gatherer is a sonically different beast to the band’s previous releases. The sound is denser and the free-dark-jazz elements of previous outing You Stood Up For Victory, We Stood Up For Less (Gizeh, 2013) are expanded upon. Thick, subtle, reverberating drones underpin the four tracks found here but the palette is expanded. Electronic beats are featured for the first time, field recordings flit in and out and the band as a whole push into new, heavier territories with melodic saxophone and clarinet motifs intertwining and leading the way.
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Collaboration is key here and The Gatherer sees a host of fine musicians involved, including; Aidan Baker (Nadja), Claire Brentnall (Shield Patterns), Angela Chan (Tomorrow We Sail. Lanterns on the Lake), Aaron Martin (From the Mouth of the Sun), David McLean (Gnod, Tombed Vision Records), Frédéric D. Oberland (The Rustle of the Stars, Oiseaux Tempête, FareWell Poetry, FOUDRE!), Owen Pegg (Hundred Year Old Man), Colin H. Van Eeckhout (Amenra, CHVE). Each one bringing something unique to the table, each one carefully marking the record with their own vision and sound. Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Oathbreaker etc) mastered the record to 2” tape at his Atomic Garden studio in San Francisco.
The intent is signalled early on as Colossus Survives opens with droning saxophone notes, accompanied soon after with hypnotic electronic beats before exploding into a free-jazz workout with clarinet, saxophone and viola all uniting to form an overwhelming noise. Thick guitar tones introduce Anodyne Nights For Somnolent Strangers before it subsumes into an inextricable world of droning strings and Aidan Baker’s hushed vocals. The delicate and ponderous viola introduction on Jason Molina’s Blues sweeps you gently along before the saxophone creeps in and takes over in the album’s centrepiece. The track then begins to collapse and disintegrate with new sounds entering and falling away with visceral, disorientating regularity. Finally, The Recapitulation completes this quartet of compositions with an altogether more haunting, menacing tone. Trance-like electronics draw you in before Colin H. Van Eeckhout’s meditative vocal delivery, coupled with evocative saxophone and clarinet, collide to form a seductive conclusion to The Gatherer.