(Appropriately) I can?t work out if this is ?Human Sacrifice? by Upsidedown Crossings or ?Upsidedown Crossings? by Human Sacrifice. [It is humansacrifice "Upsidedown Crossings". -ed.
] I?ve gone through a lot with this one ? first the sub-adolescent stoner-graf ?zine? that accompanies the cd, then the initial annoyance with a bass tone that refuses to leave your ears even though your sub-woofer is totally off, and finally a kind of repulsed quiescence with the calmly threatening, delicately insidious and attractively confusing music. Recorded under a bridge in New York in 2000, it is a document of some considerable disparity and ugliness, the surface never quite present but somehow surviving as a phantom veneer pieced together by subterranean echoes and unknown shell-fragments of non-tone. Quite wonderfully, the effect is something like walking through a subway and catching fragments of radio, conversation and the clanks and clicks of underground electronic activity and far-off industrial movement translated through reinforced concrete, and contains the same distance and latent paranoia that such sounds evoke in the entrails of the modern urban environment. How much of this is ?manned? and how much emerged from the contingencies of the recording environment is impossible to tell and makes for a recording that renders the above simile rather redundant, as pure environmental field-recording and musical agency combine in what could be both imitation and the stark actuality of a dark, damp and indistinct landscape. Or it could be a lot of tapes, skilfully manipulated. Either way, it slowly reveals a depth of field that intrigues, hurts and entices by its largely rhythmic and spatial transformations ? when what sounds like a child?s voice enters the cut some distance in a sudden pathos licks the recording with a whiff of human frailty, the seemingly impenetrable industrial/urban process caught off-kilter by something so disturbingly natural as a voice (possibly saying, ?break it?, although the words are lost in a snap of wind or sheet metal). Soon after, a twisted and disguised vocal tangent is mangled onto a dirty tone, regurgitating language into a mendacious loop, itself then completely obliterated by a suffocating bass tone ? linearly, no sound is allowed to establish itself fully before being swept into the sewer, but then each sound has its own historical movement, receding into or out of the darkness that surrounds and encroaches at every opportunity, a cavalcade of lost souls. Incestuous and repetitive rhythms on what sound like metal tubing are a staple of the recording, clanging out in a kind of resigned monotony like a disinterested hand running down railings, the flesh tapping tone from what it cannot hope to conquer. This creeping, vague recording is a quietly but assuredly rebellious venture towards a music of absence and loss, definable more by what?s not there than what is. Some of it feels like Waiting for Godot in its juxtaposition of radio-interference-loop absurdity and awkward, nihilistic statements of non-intent; and then you start to desire it, like any place that is truly inhabited, no matter how seemingly bleak and inhuman the landscape. I?ve yet to hear a more genuinely disturbing, subtlety affecting cd-r this year. 8/10 -- Evan Rhodes (15 April, 2008)