Review Summary: The sound of gradual maturation.
A subtly ominous piano melody, accompanied by the distant sound of electronic beeps and blips, slowly lulls the listener into a melancholy trance. After a brief pause, soaring orchestral strings lift one’s spirit, before coming crashing down into more ominous synths and a thumping drum machine. In this way, “The Taker” is a perfect encapsulation of much of the music that is to follow on Black Malachite’s debut full-length Void
. This is an album devoted to capturing a mood somewhere between relaxation and creeping dread, and it achieves this through the use of unusual, frequently surprising musical shifts within the context of a relatively consistent sonic palate.
In his previous project My Tears, Your Weapon, Southern California producer Dalton DuBois frequently attempted to jar the listener, such as on the On the Edge of Reason
EP, which attempted to veer between electronic textures and pounding metalcore instrumentals from one track to the next. However, in the interim DuBois has learned much about the power of restraint and tonal consistency, and Void
is in many ways a result of that maturation. While there is a fair amount of variation in sound from track to track, DuBois rarely ever sacrifices consistency in mood or pacing for shock value, which leads to a listening experience with much greater replay value.
Many of DuBois’ production choices give insight into his diverse genre influences throughout the album’s 11 tracks. “Noise Scars” is centered around mellow intertwining guitar licks; “Love, We Are Death” focuses on a repeating piano melody as other instrumentals fade in and out; “Intoxication by Proxy” is carried by a slow guitar melody line until the pace is quickened by upbeat syncopated drumming in the track’s final minute. Only “Cut Connections” attempts the sort of rapid-fire composition that DuBois had made a key part of his sound in previous works, and while it is engaging enough on its own, it contains perhaps the only moments in the album when one is taken out of the prevalent mood entirely. Yet for the most part, despite a few awkward musical transitions, DuBois has shown on Void
that he can be quite adept at maintaining a theme throughout an entire full-length work. And in spite of all of the genre shifts and production bells and whistles that fill much of his other work, this is by far the more impressive achievement.