Marked up as psychic AOR, Sink’s latest offering is far more subversive than that initial description suggests. It is, after all, an exploration into the reasons behind man’s very existence, deconstructing his own self-awareness – pure waffle or a valuable assessment? Naturally, any work that credits the occultist Genesis P-Orridge and mystic Therese Neumann is going to challenge our own conceptions of the self.
As an example of the depths we are plunging here, the PR blurb that accompanies this offers us the enigmatic line – “The history of music is merely fuel to be burned”. It’s a bastardization of an Ayn Rand quote but this and other half-spoken observations throughout the album are our stark warning that we are expected to look beyond the obvious for this one.
Think on that as you swim into the opener, “Hunger” and that glowing, buzzing, chiming warp which lurks behind a wall of monotonous, lyrical chaos.The switch-up that follows tickles the band’s folk souls, powering down to bring us echoing pipes and a blackened, melancholic lament. Oddly, “Dream Map” forms the link between tracks one and two, ingesting parts of each and throwing in a crackling fire, ironworked effects and a slow 80’s synth.
Never ones to rest in one place, the synthetic pulse of “Consolation” offers up another change of tone, drawing inspiration from such diverse sources as Jean-Michel Jarre and 65daysofstatic. With no real direction it feels odd and misplaced – a snatch of something unbidden and incomplete. Much of what you’ll experience here though is merely that – more quick grabs at the ether than true songs.
As an example of this “Crystal Ship” is seemingly just a series of sounds thrown together. Part-industrial, part-tribal, a repeating single-note it conjures a dark, occluded picture driven by anger to the point where disintegration is the only exit strategy. Quite mental, oddly disturbing and yet curiously mesmeric. Likewise, the arena echo of “Terminal”, is at its heart just a sequence of recorded sounds. Passing traffic that morphs into the pounding of train wheels on a track. Then, there’s “World Asthma” – a minute of slow piano split asunder by static interference – it achieves what exactly? I’m losing my patience here.
Happily, “So We’ll Go No More A-Roving” does carry a purpose. It’s a slow, doomy, boy-girl lament; a Vangelis-esque tale of love dripping with real sentiment.
Yes, at it’s core Ark Of Contempt… is just a series of fiercly deconstructed songs, hammered, kneaded, and teased out into simplistic musical threads. It’s a melancholic album with a bold, dynamic range and those with inquiring, open minds will find it both invigorating and thought-provoking. However it does require a largesse of patience to escape the rigid, spartan structures and some will find it lacking in colour. On the plus side, it’s unafraid of ditching the vocal lines where necessary and, consequently leaves room for the acoustic-only tracks to release the grey matter from too much torturous instruction.
( 5.5/10 John Skibeat )