Compulsion | PO Box 19577 | Kilbarchan |Johnstone | PA10 2WX | Scotland | UK

Tunnels of ĀH - Deathless Mind

Previous Tunnels of ĀH albums have been steeped in texts of Gnosticism, Buddhism and Christianity but for Deathless Mind the religious and spiritual arise from the titles referencing rituals, parable and even cults. The impetus for Deathless Mind comes from a half mile stretch of abandoned railway where various human transgressions have occurred. What those transgressions were we can only imagine. But yet they offer the starting point for this the fifth album from Tunnels of ĀH, an esoteric industrial project of Stephen ĀH Burroughs and one whose releases we eagerly await at compulsiononline. Burroughs was once a member of Head of David, but the sounds of Tunnels of ĀH are far removed from the noise-rock of that outfit and owe more to the industrial music Burroughs was listening to and making prior to that project. Deathless Mind continues with abstract electronics and drones but it feels different to their previous releases and I can't really pinpoint why but read on to discover why we find them such a great project and this such an absorbing release.

Deathless Mind begins with a series of rings and scrapes reverberating over a buzzing drone which continuously surface and slide away on 'Ritual For The New Dumb'. The ritual aspect is heightened by the faint background chorus of monastic sounding aaahs and cascading swirls of drone bowls. A harsher element arrives in the form of threshing cuts which come faster and thicker. Those threshing movements may be familiar to Tunnels of ĀH listeners but this track featuring contributions from Primitive Knot is austere and vaguely threatening.

The following track, 'Parable Of The Sewer' is swampish and drenched in squelch. Cyclical clicks arise and rotate in the quagmire of sound, its churn providing a sluggish momentum cutting its way through the thick mass of sludgey sound matter before it is subsumed by a flow of gritty, textured distortion lashing down over queasy electronic atmospheres. The whole track evolves and feels as if you've just experienced your own burial and been returned to the earth.

Slow rushes of cavernous rumbling open the brilliantly titled 'The Cult Is On The Move'. Quaking and quivering, its cycles interrupted by a lighter arcing cascade of tones. Although the album is based on an abandoned railway line, 'The Cult Is On The Move' conjures images of a plane navigating a night time journey blighted by dense fog and storms, with its intermittent radio broadcasts attempting to break through the fug of sound. An interplay of fizzing tones, electronic shrieks and faint melodies signify the disruption to the broadcast, adding a degree of suspense to this mysterious track with is slow moving washes of sound.

Ricocheting between clipped gong and muffled, shuffling textures, 'Saint Of Slaves' returns to a more ritualised sound. Underpinned by a lurking drone from which a voice intones with permutations of the title: "Saint of saints, slave of slaves, slave of saints, saint of slaves" over another background voice which is whispered in a snarling and feverish manner. That foreground voice reminded me of Monte Cazazza and his version of Brion Gysin's permutation poem 'Kick That Habit Man'. It isn't Monte Cazazza though but Adam Probert of The Mannequin Factory, and as the track progresses against the gong and textures it slips into drone shifts, rumbling echoes and quickened voice shrieks in this the sole track to feature discernible vocals.

Deathless Mind more so than any other previous Tunnels of ĀH release dispenses with texts and vocals for a more sound based recording. 'Ascetic' flexes to noise dynamics with flights of rickety sounds and shuffling noise shifts, with a pummelling beat pounding in death beat fashion. Bursts of distortion rip through your speakers as 'Ascetic' settles into an uneasy noise collage, rumbling, ricocheting and pounding. Amidst the slabs of sound, which sound closer to the Tunnels of ĀH related noise project FRAG, are glints of splintering metallic percussion, which culminates in a mass of scraping and drilling in an industrialised manner. And yet for all its sound elements, that sense of self-discipline referenced in the title prevents it from being overwhelmed by all-out noise.

Tunnels of ĀH are unusually singular and devoid of comparisons but 'Cum Iron In The Spine' feels like it could be something NON would produce. Unwinding to a remarkable glistening electrified swirl, I can't tell if it is vocal based but it could be and somewhere in that swirling vortex of chattering sound I'm convinced that it is chant based. The entire tracks is deeply absorbing which only gets more mesmerising with the additional layers of ritualised airy sustained droning which appear later on in this great track. A locked groove extended mix on 12-inch would be more than welcome for this one.

Deathless Mind closes on the darker, denser and more unsettling 'Sanatorium Lawns' populated by disembodied voices and distant cavernous rumbles flitting between passages drenched in ripples of noise and shrieking, dripping tones. In an album where Tunnels of ĀH go far beyond their usual sound 'Sanatorium Lawns' marks their first foothold in dark ambient cutting off moments just before it could get much more interesting.

On Deathless Mind Tunnels of ĀH get more abstract, more mysterious with their sound meditations of an abandoned railway line transporting ghosts and spirits along its disused track, a site where various human transgressions have occurred. It is perhaps their most elusive recording stepping away from overt religious and spiritual texts which featured on previous releases for a more abstract and at times industrial and noise based sound which despite its lack of discernible rhythm, draws you in with a momentum resembling a ghost train passing along this abandoned railway line. Challenging and absorbing it's a trip worth taking. Get on board if you dare. For more information go to Cold Spring or Tunnels of ĀH bandcamp