gruntsplatter-aberrant-laboratory“The Aberrant Laboratory” CD – Dark Vinyl Records (2006)

Scott Candey, the moving spirit behind gruntsplatter, describes his work as “… a malleable creature that hovers in the grey area between abrasive noise and dark ambient…”; you certainly won’t get any argument from me on that score. Candey seems to use gruntsplatter as a means to spit bile, plague and acid on the virus that is humanity – there is often an undeniable misanthropy coursing through the veins of the musical beasts he engenders. Certainly on some of his previous outings, such as ‘The Death Fires’ and ‘Chronicling the Famine’, he laid bare that misanthropy in the rawest way possible. I must admit that I too harbour a distaste for the vast majority of the steaming pile of turds that claim to belong to the race of homo sapiens – sometimes their blinding stupidity leads me to believe that it is only by sheer luck that we have survived thus far. This is one of the reasons why I have a soft spot for the work of gruntsplatter (plus I think the name is quite wonderfully evocative…).

Once again we have harrowing and brooding death ambient atmospheres, cavernous and cathedral-like torch-lit spaces, filled with the ever-burning fires of madness and destruction and peopled by the vile architects of filth and defilement. The earth churns, groans, fractures along fault-lines and spews the hot bile of magma amidst the engines of mass annihilation, the very machines that will do the work of ridding the planet of the parasite that we have become. This is a culling and mass death on a gigantic industrial scale – what’s more there is nothing that we hold dear or have faith in, be it science, religion or military prowess, that will either save us or hold the legions back. Everything will be laid to waste, the earth burned, cities razed and civilization brought to its knees and beyond. All that will be left will be scorched and blackened earth, unmourned ruins, and the still-smoking funeral pyres of the world we created – the wheels were set in motion long ages ago and however much we try to fight it there is a relentless inevitability about it.

What Candey seems to be saying is that this is our doom and there’s nothing we can do to defer its arrival at the appointed time. We don’t know how long we have left, but whether it is tomorrow, next year, next century or in ten million year’s time, the prognostication remains depressing – the cancer that is humanity will keep on running its destructive and antagonistic course along with its unwillingness to change or uplift itself. One can look upon gruntsplatter’s music as either a warning or an anticipatory hymn to the eventual demise of the human race and all it represents – they may even stand as testament to those few individuals who possessed enough prescience to see our end coming. There’s definitely a part of me that would love to see the devils and demons dancing on the graves and piles of doomed humanity – I even hope they’ll let me join in with them. If they do, then some album or other of gruntsplatter’s will be on my mp3 player at the time….

FUCK YES! This is what I’ve been needing for the last few years. Just a completely mind-blowing industrial ambient album to tickle my mind, peak my curiosity and send my ears into multiple furious orgasms!!! I’ll be listening to this numerous times within the next few weeks so don’t expect a ton of reviews from me. The Aberrant Laboratory is a 70 minute tour de force of heavy feedback, industrial reverberations, abstract synth textures, screaming subtle harmonies and moving surging seething atmospheres that will impress even the most jaded. Every layer here is constantly morphing and changing while weaving in and out of each other to form a monolithic sound palette that has so many miniscule strands involved it boggles my mind.

Scott Candey is the mad scientist that has concocted this abomination of sound and he is also the only professor involved in Gruntsplatter research. Gruntsplatter has released several items and he has already made quite a name for himself. I have most of the Gruntsplatter albums and I have to say that I have not been into them as much as I should be. I always felt there was something (and I have no idea what) that was missing from his output. I always took it for solid material but felt it was just lacking enough characteristics to avoid being something exemplary. The Aberrant Laboratory is a new beast, and I feel marks a new era in Gruntsplatter experiments. I feel like Gruntsplatter has finally reached the place that he was looking for here.

Scott uses all his old tricks and many new ones here of what sound like numerous synths pumped through several feedback loops and then mixed with heavy washes of white noise. One of my favorite tracks here is “Experiments in Circumventing Evolution” that features so many sounds sputtering, twirling, diving deep around you that it would be impossible to do justice with words. Don’t get me wrong here this is not “synth” like material. Think a more detailed Luasa Raelon, and if you’ve ever heard Gruntsplatter before this is going in a slightly more ambient direction while just generally taking things to the next level in terms of layers, better sounds, and longer more interesting structures. I could go more into detail until my fingers fall off, but the truth is every track on this is worthy of it’s own review as they are all so detailed and will stand up to multiple listens.

Pristine production by the talented Thomas Garrison of Misanthrope Studio makes this material hit all the harder. The artwork is the only thing that I think could be a bit better, my main problem being that some of the images seem a little blurry (as if they were digitally blown up) but they were at least shown enough care as to not be pixilated or anything. The font is fine, but there is a problem with the lower case “s” so it does not look at all like an “s.” It definitely would have been worth it to switch these out with letters that actually did look like an “s” because it’s rather awkward attempting to read all the text. Also, though the artwork might be a reflection of the music and the concept there are too many things going on, the art seems cluttered, but I think this is a response to the concept and the more I think about it the more I like it.

In a world where millions of people are collecting even the most mundane of information through research there are also scientists attempting to create microscopic black holes, smash atoms, accelerate and combine particles and who the fuck knows what else. The Aberrant Laboratory is a testament and a prophecy of this. It is the most bleak of testaments and the most apocalyptic of prophecies. It is an exploration into the important issues of our time such as genetic experimentation, and mutation, the corporeal and spiritual consequences of our curiosity and the repercussions of making our dreams, and with those, our nightmares a reality. I sincerely hope that after our world has been destroyed by nuclear holocaust that this CD and a stereo are one of the few things left so whatever is left of humanity (hopefully nothing) will be able to hear this monument of doom and know where we all went wrong.

Gruntsplatter has moved onto a higher plane in my book. He is now working at a level very few others can reach in this scene. The only thing I have left to say is: incredible.

Even the sharpest scalpels become dull and rusty one day. An aura of evanescency hovers around this fourth Gruntsplatter album, which adds a rather cadaverous touch to it given the principal theme of this cd. You see, The Aberrant Laboratory, recorded in ’05 and released by Dark Vinyl in ’06, is based upon a concept: the facets of degenerate medical science and the deviant research that results from it. The illegality of clandestine experiments and the renouncing of the Hippocratic oath has been translated here into ten almost unearthly, flowing sonic constructions with a total duration of seventy minutes. How does something like that sound? Like Merzbow and Lustmord meeting each other during a symposium of physicians who are as brilliant as they are insane. Slowly pulsating, elongated sound modulations with the mechanical feel of respiration equipment and the penetrating sensation of a surgical drill boring through living bone. Ethereal melodies float through the disquieting soundscapes in a shadowy way, like aerosol bacteria in a fastidious laboratory. This envelops you like an escaped cloud of anesthetic gas and clammily clings to you like cooling blood and tissue on the cutting surface of an amputation knife.

Even though this has a more ambient feel to it than previous Gruntsplatter material, contorted and abrasive noise is still an integral part of the total sound. Together with the sophisticated details, an atmosphere that can be desolate as well as livid and a profundity which is hard to grasp, this gives rise to obscure noise ambient that is ghastly, morbid and exceptionally interesting. Not suitable as background music during surgery.

Gruntsplatter is Scott E. Candey, based, not in some obscure mountain castle retreat, but in Portland, Oregon. “The Aberrant Laboratory” is a CD that sounds like the gates of Hell have been opened, welcoming you to the dark ambience and ritual noise of a rogue medical community gone awry. And as with all good ambient music, there must be a cinematic presence. This happens here, in a big way. These are powerful sounds to accompany an unpalatable topic. But, at least the sounds are not real…

Or are they?

Ideology has always been a breeding ground for heated debate regarding medical ethics. Whether one considers diverse topics such as genetics, organ harvesting, physical torture techniques, abortion, eugenics, etc., as medical issues worthy of debate, the terms themselves have become unfortunately entwined in an impenetrable ideological helix.

And as conditioned ideology often pales when reason is applied, the rancid stench of prejudicial fluid is often not a graphic enough jolt to shock someone from this Pavlovian stupor.

So, for one moment, suspend all personal beliefs if you may, and shed all ideological clamor and comfort, and imagine the sights and sounds of a non-descript “aberrant laboratory” in somewhere, (insert country here).

Picture a blood splattered sign stating the Hippocratic oath, dangling in mockery from a rusted nail on the wall. On an operating table you see something. A cadaver? Comatose? Catatonic? Autopsy or experiment? Death? Or life slowly drained via a three-inch incision?

Whereas Mary Shelley conjured the possibility of life created from death, the scene unfolding before you is an altogether different monster. You look away, but you can’t deny the existence of the sound, because it penetrates you on the cellular level. It’s unavoidable. And if you let it, it will destroy you. – Michael Casano

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