Helm – Silencer

All that’s left by the end is a shambling corpse, a steady, unsettling gaze from dead eyesHelm‘s new EP is no fun at all.

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Dread is the dominant mood on Silencer, Luke Younger’s first recorded output since his stunning Impossible Symmetry album last year. Much like that album, this EP occupies an uncanny space between genres, laying out drone, noise and hints of techno sonics with a composer’s ear for detail. The end result is a product of spare compositions that all feel like there’s something missing. The lines don’t quite join up. For one, the fidelity is resolutely fucked. The degrading effects of cassettes suck away whatever life may have once existed in each sound. Voided but still claustrophobic, all that’s left by the end is a shambling corpse, a steady, unsettling gaze from dead eyes. Even when the voodoo drums of the title track cease, the inglorious radiance of the drone that remains is enough to spook the horse.

The rhythms here are shot full of holes, often staggering unsteadily repetition to repetition. The drums on ‘Silencer‘ clatter without ever really forming a groove of any kind, the kick that drops irregularly on ‘Mirrored Palms‘ adds weight but no pulse. On ‘Bergamo‘, the beat is first pushed out to one side and kept submerged in reverb; the hole in the middle of the track dominates what is actually present. When it slides into the centre of the frame and takes over, it’s makes for one of the EPs most powerful, awesome moments.

The Haze‘ is certainly the most present, impactive track here. Its cicada clicking meets bass drops like Emptyset with the heart ripped out, all the aggression evaporated and hanging like fog in the air over an old battlefield. When the second rhythm joins in, the first half-groove we’re given, it’s hard not to feel an overwhelming sense of head-nodding relief. Younger has described this EP as “alchemical”, an experiment with predetermined sets of elements. It feels like that experiment is still ongoing – nothing here suggests any conclusions have been reached.

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