Those who’ve come here today looking for riffs and melodies, uplift or succor, will leave empty-handed. What you’ll find instead is “a merging of harsh minds during even harsher times,” “relentless textural soundscapes and combative tones sharpened and pointed by design in order to scrape the listener clean to the bone”.
So says the French label WV Sorcerer Productions and its co-release partners Damien Records and Hell Simulation about the self-titled debut album by an international group of noisemakers who’ve chosen the name Fossa Magna. The participants in this collaborative effort are:
Hiroshi Hasegawa 長谷川洋
Many Blessings (USA):
Ethan Lee McCarthy (Primitive Man, Vermin Womb)
Chester Masangya & Robert Glen Dilanco
What does the name Fossa Magna refer to? We’ll let Hiroshi Hasegawa explain it:
“It is believed that the Japanese archipelago was once divided into east and west, and that tectonic movements gradually fused the eastern and western land masses.
“The fusion of the two is Fossa Magna, which is connected by a series of volcanoes that contain vast amounts of underground energy.
“I named this project Fossa Magna in the hope that, like Fossa Magna, the three of us will fuse our individual personalities and cultures to create a new, unique, and powerful musical energy.”
Unlike genre terms for extreme music such as “death metal” and “black metal”, you don’t have to engage in etymological research to understand how the terms “harsh noise” and “power electronics” were conceived. They are purely descriptive, and Fossa Magna distill harshness and violating electronic power with a furious purity (and fractured creativity) that does seem capable of fusing continents through vulcanism rather than the continental drift of eons.
These six tracks, which range in length from 3 1/2 to nearly 11 1/2 minutes, fuse together demented wails, horrid roars, and paint-stripping shrieks, all fighting to the death, as well as ear-shredding feedback and earth-shaking detonations, blizzards of static and sirens gone mad, squirming sonic squiggles and steel-wool scraping, sewer-pipe echos and firehoses spraying acid. The effects are often deranged and cataclysmic. They put nerves on edge and then burn them to ash.
The sonic collage is dense almost throughout, the details observable through the storms but concentration on them challenged by the frequent viciousness of the sensory assaults. Strangely, some things get stuck in the head, like needles and knives — like the weird warbling and wailing tonalities that burrow through the typmanic mangling and hallucinatory harrowing of “Fulminated by a Vermillion Light“, or the rhythmic bombing campaign in “Warning to the Valley“.
Some tracks, such as “Diastrophism” (which includes distorted spoken words) reach the kind of terrorizing scale that spawns visions of the heavens on fire, and falling. Others, like that warning to the valley, are brute-force demolition jobs. Just when needed, the very long “Contractual Punishment” briefly opens a window to galactic celestial wonders — before warping them into something horrific and then teleporting the listener into obliterating destruction on a planetary scale, observed by hungry nightmare entities from the blackness of the void.
The conceptual reference to geologic events only goes so far, because the album sounds far more alien than natural, more like a war among (or within) the indecipherable minds of machines, the roaring of Outer Gods, or the agonies of wraiths.
Something so routinely abusive to the senses and so nightmarish in its sonic visions shouldn’t be mesmerizing, and we certainly wouldn’t go so far as to say that the album is spellbinding. Yet it is the kind of experience capable of rooting listeners in place, hooked like squirming fish or paralyzed by the frightfulness of a close encounter with a nest of vipers. Even the sheer cacophony of “Unfortunate Visitor” (which maybe is named for you today) is kind of transfixing simply because it’s so damned bizarre.
The details matter as much as the overarching impact; part of the twisted attraction is noticing them, and wondering what will come next.
The album, Fossa Magna フォッサマグナ, will be released by WV Sorcerer, Damien Records, and Hell Simulation this coming Friday, July 7th, on digital and variant 12″ vinyl editions, which you can order here: