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God Body Disconnect - Dredge Portals (2016) - Review

Band: God Body Disconnect
Album title: Dredge Portals
Release date: 12 January 2016
Label: Cryo Chamber

01. Rise Of The Dormant Host
02. The Reflection Tower
03. Descend With Demons
04. Heart Of The Mirror's Abyss
05. Lost In The Astral World
06. Perpetually Devoured
07. Dreaming Of Glaciers

God Body Disconnect's Dredge Portals is the latest release on Cryo Chamber and the first of the new year. Bruce Moallem makes his debut with a highly versatile release, probably the most unexpected so far from Cryo Chamber. Dredge Portals encompasses many different musical styles. While clearly rooted in dark ambient the use of guitars, a variety of different drones, and a vocalized narrative, push the boundaries of dark ambient to its very limits touching on a post-rock feel reminiscent of artists like This Will Destroy You. While we have heard vocals in previous releases from Cryo Chamber, this is the first time that an artist vocalizes a real recurring narrative throughout the album. Moallem's accent and narrative style immediately bring to mind Ray Liotta's narration in Goodfellas, a connection I am quite surprised and more than happy to make. But don't let that connection fool you, this is not a story of crime and drug-dealing, it is a deeply personal venture into the depths of the mind, effortlessly dragging the listener along for the ride.

Dredge Portals starts with "Rise Of The Dormant Host" a highly cinematic track, full of deeply immersive field recordings, taken in urban areas, some sounding quite industrial, while others include chattering crowds of people and the distinct sounds of a hospital. Dredge Portals' narrative begins here, where Moallem explains that the protagonist of his story has been shot, but doesn't die. He lies dormant for seven years unable to move or speak, but able to hear and see all of his surroundings. As he wishes for all the suffering to end we take the plunge into his mind. What follows is the emotional ups and downs of life in his bodily prison. "The Reflection Tower", again relying heavily upon field recordings, paints a dark and lonely picture, a phone ringing in the background anchors us in reality while the gently rolling drones slowly melt into a gorgeous and serene post-rock guitar arrangement. "Descend With Demons" is surely the darkest track on the album. Dripping with field recordings that paint a vivid image we feel the terror of a man locked inside his own body, as he struggles to no avail to find his way out of this slumber and back into the world he once knew. "Heart Of The Mirror's Abyss" continues the darkness of the previous track but becomes even more frantic and anxious as the protagonist screams out for help, but is clearly the only one who can hear his pleas. The feeling of claustrophobia is strong here, yet Moallem is able to convey the message without sending the listener into a nervous and frantic state themselves, keeping to the narrative without becoming obnoxious in its delivery. "Lost In The Astral World" picks back up on the narration. Moallem ponders on the existential questions we all face in the modern world, wondering exactly what matters to us and what will continue to matter after everything is turned upon its head. Following the narration is a spacey and hopeful progression of drones and field recordings, lending to the infinite possibilities of life touched upon in the narration. "Perpetually Devoured" dives back into the earlier claustrophobia with a sort of stormy white noise that develops into a deep rolling drone. The claustrophobia is eventually anchored by the unintelligible sounds of someone speaking nearby, possibly to him or maybe just in passing, leaving us with a sense of loneliness and true isolation. "Dreaming Of Glaciers" ends the album on a beautiful note, with a droning soundscape that conjures the images of a frozen expanse, an allegory to the seemingly eternal yet inhospitable life the protagonist now knows. Melting into a rainy atmosphere with a melancholic piano passage and a gentle almost hidden choir, we are left to peacefully ponder the narrative of Dredge Portals. Moallem leaves us with a final message to look at ourselves in the mirror and question our own lives and make the changes we wish to see.

Dredge Portals is far from what one would expect from Cryo Chamber and a nod to their slow expansion toward including more experimental projects into the mix. While it is not your usual fare for this label, it is indeed just as high a calibre release as would be expected from Simon Heath and company. Dredge Portals is one of the most cinematic releases yet from Cryo Chamber, and the most successful use of narration I have heard so far in a dark ambient release from any label. The narrations are quite unexpected upon first listen yet they are used sparingly and really add to the cinematic edge of the album without becoming corny or feeling overdone. God Body Disconnect leaves us with a very strong debut. I can only hope that future releases will prove to be just as innovative and outside the norm. Dredge Portals is sure to be an entertaining listen for many people, I would say that its appeal can go well outside the boundaries of the usual dark ambient album and may just be able to bring a whole new group of fans of post-rock with a darker edge into the mix.

Review written by: Michael
Rating: 9/10