9/10 Ant Staff review, 22 March 2018
Siavash Amini and Matt Finney follow last years ‘Familial Rot’ tape for Umor Rex with the immense ‘Gospel’ CD on Opal Tapes offshoot imprint V A N I L L A.
The emotional impact of this remarkably complex and incredibly brave work has floored me, to say the least. It has shaken me to my absolute core and then some. It is profoundly affecting - beyond heartbreaking in a way which took me completely off guard. Finney’s explicit spoken word relays incidents from his own experiences as a victim of sickening sexual abuse as a child and are deeply disturbing. Incidents and a long-lasting aftermath of terror which is incomprehensible to anyone that hasn’t lived through such atrocities.
Each of the three tracks open with Finney’s cathartic vocals and his words are simply gut-wrenching. Despite being delivered with a hushed fragility, this is a voice that demands to be heard. He leaves space and time to absorb what we’ve just heard - dark thoughts linger while Tehran-based artist Amini provides haunting, ominous black ambient/drone soundscapes which conjure unpleasant images with an often claustrophobic intensity. There are moments where his brilliantly conceived electronics/sound design feel truly toxic, as though they're being inhaled and absorbed through the skin like poison, infecting and infesting us like some dark force. Religion comes into play and how abusers have used Christianity as a smokescreen for their evil acts. The album is clearly loaded with the weight of pain, but there is some optimism, healing and cleansing to be found. At one point it’s as if Amini’s electronics weave a protective womb-like cocoon to safely float in amniotic fluid.
This collaboration is something quite special indeed -- not a purely artistic one but one based on a strong friendship. It’s rare to experience art this candid and so well executed. Both Amini’s sonics and Finney’s words resonate with a nightmarish terror that lasts long after initially being absorbed. Whitehouse and Lydia Lunch have both explored these generally taboo areas of human cruelty but neither have quite had the same effect that ‘Gospel’ has had on me - a work so powerful I felt like I’d been stabbed in the heart for the rest of the day after first hearing it. A feeling insignificant in comparison to the suffering from which this work was born.
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- Gospel by Siavash Amini & Matt Finney
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