A+ A-

Echo Lightwave Unspeakable - "The Horror On Heaven Hill" album review

Echo Lightwave Unspeakable is a noise artist here in Pittsburgh. I like his work. It is not setup in the camp of harsh noise and gross-out shock value while also not being in the intellectual, collegiate sphere. It reminds me of my own Satyr/Elfheim. When I saw that he released a new album last week, I had to take a listen to it.

The Horror On Heaven Hill looks like a horror movie. Two legs straddle a stream of blood in a bathtub as the person stares down at the mess. The cover uses the gore effectively; it isn't exploitive, though it is shocking. The image really is quite horrific.

"Part 1", which forms the entire first side, opens with some slow drones and the chattering of small impish beings. I imagine a man sitting in a bathtub, staring blankly at the tiles on the wall, noticing some strange things as little bells sound from the twinkling darkness of the basement he has descended into to wash himself away. There are some old radio sounds that transform into a kind of repeated groaning and chirping bats, maybe the same impish monsters. I imagine this as the man remembering something he did with a meat grinder and a human corpse; he can hear the droning sound of the machine and the awful whirring mutates into the demonic. The whirring and noise increase, though the track loses its ambiance for a moment. The ambiance does come back with a lot of interesting elements - more weird radio repeats, chirpy sounds, booms, creaks, and distant bells. A quiet melody builds the horror in the background as all of these sounds envelop the foreground. After a portion of radio sounds, the melody takes the foreground. It's somewhat obvious for a horror movie. The radio comes back talking about work and expectations; these are the things that drove the still unseen crime with the meat grinder. The first side drones out, interrupted by radio broadcasts and small sounds that shouldn't be heard in this mortal world.

As you would guess, "Part 2" forms the second side. It continues straight from "Part 1". There's the same droning and some little creepy sounds. There is a part with some kind of plucking or a kalimba that sounds particularly eerie. After some time of this, everything cuts out and goes to a dream world full of mysterious soap-opera flashback musick and a musick box or baby's rattle. Then, right after, everything goes haywire. That guy in the bathtub is having a panic attack and blood is all about; he bashes his head against the wall. A piercing sound and heavy noise splits the scene. This part is very loud and increasingly high-pitched. There are pulsing throbs of bass, waves of static, and glitchy computer sounds. The old musick box and the whirring fade in and out. The musick box takes over with some small scratching sounds, someone running a fork over a plate, a horn, and other pangs of fear. I await a loud sound to come, but instead, the melody drifts away. Now there is only the scratching, the man cooking the ground up meat, the woman's corpse from last night. There's a hideous laugh that leads into the sound of film running quickly through a reel. More strange sounds and laughs fill the air, and the loud whirring of the grinder returns. It becomes hard to handle, and then, soon, there is nothing.

The Horror On Heaven Hill is quite an experience. I enjoyed the horror soundscapes, the telling of a dark story through only audio stimulation. I created all the details in my mind; there was no narration or anything like that. It speaks to the power of the work that I was able to do so. The tracks do go long, but you really need to experience the whole thing in a short time to get the full effect. It's not something I could listen to very often. Still, I give The Horror On Heaven Hill a Good.