The first thing that strikes me about Kreng’s “The Summoner LP” is: this is a record of stark contrasts. Doominess with hope, drastic manoeuvre with cloying dronescape. Operating along the same lines of Paul Jebanasam’s “Music For The Church Of St. John The Baptist” from 2011, the music takes frightening crescendo and washes it with foreboding and disharmony.
Yet “The Summoner” also reminds me of Carlos Castenada’s sorcerer tales in “The Art Of Dreaming”. There, the author tells of the assemblage point being something that shapes life as a series of dreams — not a “living the dream” cliche, but seeing life as an actual, bona-fide dreaming construct, where things are not always quite what they seem, but always imbued with progress and lucidity.
Lucidity is the next thing to touch on in this music, for that’s where the shivers come from. Kreng, featured on Sonic Pieces in the past but here on Miasmah Recordings, moves beyond the stereotypes of ‘dark ambient’ or ‘contemporary classical’, fusing a type of randomised aerial mood into his recordings, which are coded in an unearthly dread. Silent film strings, dulcet drones. Highs and lows, gravelly tones. “The Summoner” is like moving over gravel — it leaves a footprint in your mind’s ear and makes you remember that its grounding, and your own grounding, is partly supernatural.
Genial opener “Denial” lacks the effluence of its title: a brick of drone that breaks into a string cacophony, yet in the most minimal way, as the low frequency hum gathers speed. It’s a lull before a sudden tide. “Anger” is more direct, a wall of creepily slithering noise permeated by pulsating, grainy synths. Hearing this on headphones is a good way to listen: it’s a sometimes terrifying asteroid of sound blasting through the output source. Yet the piece’s concord is upset by intravenous exchanges of violin, trickling like an opened ventricle.
On “Depression”, the ubiquitous introduction of a refrain resonates as an unintrusive conduit in a strong melange of sounds. Three and a half minutes in, horn drone fugues recalling Brian Mcbride combine with the previous atmosphere to push a radical, amorphous agenda, closing down with rickety realism — a silent voice among billions — yet perhaps a voice silenced for a purpose. This all leads into the title cut, “The Summoning”, resuming where “Digressions”-phase Greg Haines left off when departing to join The Alvaret Ensemble. It’s the lengthiest track here. It’s never back-breaking work, but the gong-like percussion that reverberates and abounds in the foreground definitely adds a certain weight. Six minutes pass, though it feels like an age of empires. Then a nice guitar line enters, dub synth bass and brighter patterns colouring the imagination, before a gargantuous, screaming fuzz guitar edges out any appearance of silhouette.
“Acceptance”, with a much shorter 03:30 duration, ends a very affecting, uneasily at first and greatly thereafter, album from Kreng. A sheltering coastline of sorts, embodying the more gentle, less virulent strands of “The Summoner”, a soft acoustic piano plays an arrangement of chords lightly as a type of memento to grief. It is a perfectly touching epilogue to a fascinating sonic document of summoning, of living, and most of all, of returning.