14 Sep 2021
Ambient, Drone, Experimental | Consouling Sounds | Release date: 24 Sep 2021
When one of the most reflective artists of our time releases a new EP called Future Fossils that calls for two things: Attention and reflection. The artist is Dana Schechter aka Insect Ark and this is my review on the new EP, out on Consouling Sounds from September 24th on.
For years, Insect Ark was Dana’s solo project after the end of her former band Bee & Flower which, she says, was for her a vehicle to find out if she could write music so exactly that others would then be able to perform it in a way that she could be happy with it. Interestingly, it worked out nicely (if anyone asks the author of these lines) and yet, Dana disbanded from Bee & Flower and went solo with Insect Ark (keep your eyes open on this very page in the next couple of weeks to find out, why she took up that name!), which then again became a duo with the addition of Andy Patterson a few years ago; and now thanks to some experiences with life getting in the way, Dana is again solo – also doing a few shows with Sum of R and Ural Umbo – and her first release is now Future Fossils.
Of course a name like that raises some questions: Are we the future fossils in a sense that people will be analyzing our remnants in a few centuries time, look back on our world and then think of us as a society way behind their own? Also a possible way of looking at the title: How much have we already turned to stone, how fossilized have we become now as a society after decades of daily doses of death and decay, of crime and capitalism being pushed down our throats? Or when thinking about fossils as remnants of smaller bits of a larger picture (the iceberg-principle as literary analysts would describe it) – are these songs the remains of a larger session, of something bigger than themselves? In a way, these are all possible explanations and ways of interpreting the title, but as these songs are reworkings of formerly unreleased, older material, one might think of these as being the remnants of a writing long past which have now been dug up again, like by an archaeologist’s hand – in that picture Dana would be the digging archaeologist and the source of the fossils in one – something like a perpetuum mobile?
These songs or rather soundscapes are clearly a return to the work one was used to by Insect Ark from before their last record The Vanishing from 2020 and these songs definitely show the more experimental side of Dana’s work again. This is more like a crossover between IIVII and thisquietarmy and less a combination of Pinkish Black and Vile Creature. Nevertheless, when listening to the drones, the ambient bits, the few pieces of really percussion (like the different uses of cymbals in the final epic live track ”Gravitrons”): they never sound clean, sterile or artificial. There is an ever-present warmth to them, which makes the whole sound-universe feel inviting. That is, of course, also true for those sounds which seems like sound recordings, like the insects swarming around the microphone. Interestingly, when a few simple piano chords clearly dominate a section (like in the third track ”Anopsian Volta”) it is somewhat intruding and automatically catches a lot of attention but on the other hand it also sounds unbelievably good and right in its place.
Dana has never been away from music or “the scene”, yet somehow this feels as yet another beginning for her. Interestingly this new beginning starts with a look at the past, with rewriting the past (in the literal sense of the word) and with presenting music that is as much Insect Ark from before as is isn’t. Yet, it’s always Dana Schechter, one of the underrated artists of our time.