Ambient is an interesting genre. Its ‘hidden in plain sight’ quality affords it a chameleon-like characteristic, a liberty enjoyed by few other genres. Such malleability has been embraced here by Kyle Nelson’s Cementation Anxiety and Luk Henderiks of New Grasping Machina on their latest split.
The sonic precedents this release camouflages itself in by and large skew harsh. Belonging to the worlds of ambient and harsh noise respectively, it’s the attempts of each artist to meet in the middle that has coloured the CA NGM split, and enticing either into some logical new territory.
This cross-pollination all comes as a result of Cementation Anxiety & New Grasping Machina having played a show together in Brooklyn on 23 September, 2022. Their sharing of a bill compelling Kyle to spend the next few days creating the atmospheres that would come to be these tracks.
Check Cementation Anxiety on the Local Live And Underground 2020 list
Previously, Cementation Anxiety has been underscored by its cool textures and weighty effervescence. On the first half of the split we get a similar feeling from CA, but with a full-steamed blow-off-top, rather than cool downward-pulling weightiness.
CA’s side opens with the track ‘Fear In Walking’, a track filled with loud ominous drones of subtly rough textures. Like a balloon inflated to capacity, but with a fine layer of protective barb on its exterior. The overwhelming build climaxes near the end of its 17 minute runtime, culminating with the introduction of vocals in the form of worn out breathing.
After the scratchy 4 minute interlude track, ‘False Recourse’, track 3 ‘Inescapable In Sleep’ hits with a wafting punch. Deep dark shimmers roll off the back of this enormous cloud of a track as it leans into the heaviest stormiest corners of Lustmord’s work. Teasing warped and processed vocals, these lead to the processed screams of “Bound to your breaths, the weightlessness flees. This does not end”. Taking cues from the coldest of power electronics and death industrial as the track erupts further.
If Cementation Anxiety’s side sounds like an exercise in anxiety, then New Grasping Machina’s is an exercise in atonal dread.
Opening with a grating 2 minute track, ‘Withdrawal (A Smiling Face)’, the scene is set for a rumbling affair of scratchy processed sounds with droning synth noises in tow.
Tracks 5 and 6 (‘Proverbs 12 22’ and ‘I’m Why The Willow Weeps (For Kyle)’ respectively) mix junk metal onslaughts with scratchy synth drone. At times, resembling the harsher sounds of modern noise from the likes of Pedestrian Deposit. While the whipping electronic loops and trash can onslaughts of the closing track give off a whiff of classic Merzbow.
While trying to compliment each other’s output, it seems these two have found unity in the middle ground. Rather than placing opposing sounds on a split to leverage off of disparate audiences, both artists have moved away from their staple sounds, and ever so slightly away from their comfort zones.
The Cementation Anxiety // New Grasping Machina split reads like a couple of artists who’d finally found the excuse they needed to dignify their pivot to a neighbouring sound. The resulting cohesiveness gives this the feel of a collaboration rather than a split. Ultimately, Cementation Anxiety and New Grasping Machina have exploited ambient’s lack of fixed structure, taking it to a place of weighty effervescence fused with junk metal doom-bience.
Ambient is an interesting genre, indeed.