REVIEW: Lower Level Bureau – Innerworld (2015)

Released on the Italian label Vollmer Industries in 2015, Innerworld is the 2015 debut album by the Eunice, Louisiana-based recording project Lower Level Bureau.

Recorded at Reverb Studio in Cuneo, TX, Innerworld kicks off with the massive 10+ minute track Rose’s Theme. Taking its Badalamenti influence straight, Lower Level Bureau otherwise connect the ominous link between Doom Jazz and Southern Gothic. This instrumental album is incredibly cinematic, with an impressive faux-natural drum machine sound, thick layers of synth strings, and audio samples serving as an effectively haunting human element.

Innerworld more or less exists as a Lynchian representation of the JFK-conspiracy within music. The album artwork and opening track Rose’s Theme refer to Rose Cheramie, a somewhat tangential character in the mythology surrounding the John F. Kennedy assassination. The music across the album is scattered with samples of the event’s news coverage.

A younger me, deeply into anything remotely spooky and arguably ‘real’ (unlike, say, creepypasta), would have fawned over Innerworld without hesitation. But now our societal climate lacks any practical social cohesion.

Since the album’s release in 2015 we’ve seen first hand the political manipulation, the tearing of societal fabric, and its devastating toll that have become the real world baggage to an interest in conspiracy theories, something that years ago could have been considered the interest of the gumshoe’s hubris, oddity nuts (such as myself), or just plain old weirdos.

Speaking of Twin Peak’s influence and conspiracy theories, does anyone remember X-Files?

All of this said, the JFK assassination and its mythology are, to put grimly, as American as apple pie. Perhaps Innerworld is a last call for our more playful collective interest in such topics. It’s a beautiful album, and one that expands upon both Noir and Southern Gothic themes within music. Maybe one day we’ll come to find it ‘fun’ again.

For fans of: The Killmanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, Angelo Badalamenti, Dale Cooper Quartet

Like Lower Level Bureau? Give these a listen: Malakas, Iosu Vakerizzo, Music For Sleep

REVIEW: The Tleilaxu Music Machine – Audrey’s Trance / I Saw Her Die EP (2011)

Remixed film tracks in the days of Witch House, these wonkified reworks of Angelo Badalamenti and Ennio Morricone are representative of a time, a brief moment, standing on the edge of Twin Peaks’ new-found cultural ubiquity, when the previously cult show of the early 90s was only starting to be reworked into contemporary culture. While Twin Peaks’ influence on the Doom Jazz genre cannot go understated, it’s here, at the beginning of television streaming in the early teens, that we begin to see Twin Peaks looked to en mass.

Opening track Audrey’s Trance is a warped and wistful refashioning of Badalamenti’s Audrey’s Dance from one of many iconic R&R diner scenes. The EP as a whole serves as a reminder of the early 2010s’ click-clacky percussion and penchant for side-chaining. The fledgling embrace of a purely-digital tonality may now feel primitive (or video game-esque), but delights in the eerie and off-kilter soothing quality similar to that of Twin Peaks.

I Saw Her Die, a reworking of Ennio Morricone’s theme from the Giallo film Chi L’ha Vista Morire? (1972), ramps up in intensity. Its chopped and warped choir samples fitting for the gnostic aesthetics of a genre like Witch House- the track’s energetic uptick decidedly something out of the world of video games.

At 7 minutes 49 seconds in duration, the EP’s closing track Your Melancholick Touch is a decent Dark Ambient work to close out the album. A dark drag of digital noise stretched out in all its low bit-rate glory. The song’s singular refrain repeats until entropy and eventual unceremonious cut-off. This almost depiction of ‘non-time’ remains fettered to the medium’s boundaries- with Ambient recordings of any kind we may imagine we ‘get lost’, but we’re always brought back. There is a definitive, inevitable end to this which attempts to capture the infinite. Your Melancholick Touch, like most worthwhile Dark Ambient, attempts to depict angst-undefinable.

Witch House was in a lot of ways a digital fashion trend, a commercial quicksilver in our narcissistic consumer culture. But looking back, there can still be pleasant or even worthwhile gems. I would say The Tleilaxu Music Machine (now releasing work under Pink Abduction Ray) has produced one of these gems. But what emotional urgency captured here remains relevant today? By going backward, do we find ourselves? Or do we simply find something to be mined? Perhaps that can only be self-interrogated by the individual listener.

For fans of: Pink Abduction Ray, Sidewalks and Skeletons, Blank Banshee

Like The Tleilaxu Music Machine? Give these a listen: Meat Beat Manifesto, Mikado Koko, Berberian Sound Studio (Broadcast)

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