The Final Mapping of New Constellations

Founded in order to focus on darker and more experimental works, Little Red Rabbit off-shoot label, Little Crack’d Rabbit, kicks things off with a superb release from Washington based weirdoes BLK w/BEAR.  The Final Mapping of New Constellations is, technically at least, a remix album, having been created from the source material of ‘The Stars Look Down’ by Last Harbour.  However, as with anything this quartet touches, it goes way beyond the call of duty and instead they have created a full album that stands firm in its own right, whilst still offering glimpses of the original work.

We are greeted by the urgent single piano note attack of ‘Pang Pang’, its brief but effective appearance acting like a fanfare to the rest of the album.  We then enter the more sedate territory of ‘KM_184’, its drifting backdrop interspersed with metallic lurches, percussion and disjointed piano which build in intensity, finally relaxing into a settled rhythm to create an unnervingly beautiful piece.

‘Lapfult’ takes us into murkier depths, a bass-led pulse leading us through dark corridors where metal shards appear from nowhere, whilst the distorted tones of ‘Realif’ give the impression of a windswept landscape in the middle of a snowstorm.  The end of the piece brings the listener back indoors with a decayed cello line, leading us into ‘Sandraint’.  Here, the slight dissonance and squealing melodic line that weaves above the metallic sound of a mandolin makes for a somehow macabre atmosphere, for some reason I can only picture this being played by skeletons.

From the mesmeric rhythm of ‘Grand Order of the Eastern Star’ to the Lurie-esque disjointed lounge interlude of ‘E_Ho_C’, this is an album of incongruous beauty, each track offering something new from the limitations of the source material.  The flickers of vocals and guitar that lie hidden within the serene drifting of ‘Whitread’, followed by the final dissonant abstractions of ‘Loplop’ bring the album to its unsettling close.

Having previously released work on Front & Follow and Trace Recordings, BLK w/BEAR have a long-standing track record of ripping apart audio and piecing it back together in their own inimitable style.  The real craft lies in the group’s ability to ensure that the more noise based elements remain musical; even though the sounds produced can at times be rather grating and harsh, it is always fitting within the context of the track and never outstays its welcome.  A seemingly simple thing, yet achieved by so few.   All in all this is a fantastic collection of pieces which offers plenty of promise as the first release from this new label.  Keep an eye on this one.

– Katie English

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