Black To Comm came to my attention in a single instant: walking with my girlfriend into her favorite Manhattan record shop, Other Music, and spotting this artwork on the new release rack. I was drawn in, picking it up, staring into its depths. I had absolutely no idea who the artist was, but I wanted to know how it sounded. Unfortunately, at the time I was short on cash and wanted a known quantity – an album sure to justify my purchase. Fortunately, my friend Samuel at Bubblegum Cage III highlighted the error in distrusting my gut instincts that day.
The woozy thrill of absorbing this miniature (and ostensibly) drone-based psychedelic epic is an incrementally rewarding sensation, ratcheting up the tension and release in equal measure with each go-round. After opening with a city block’s worth of field samples and inclement weather, Alphabet 1968 lowers us into an underground current of Gas for a solid 10 minutes. The dark aquatic pulse builds to a near frenzy before we surface, gasping for air along with a warped bell choir riding a flying carpet of orchestral drone. Drifting into a piercing swarm of plucked string bees and swooping ravens straight out of a lost Fantasia segment, the album reveals its heart in the possessed-music-box of Musik Für Alle. This gorgeous centerpiece marks an early emotional peak before we dip into the twisting-knob broadcast and monumentally lonely piano noodling of Amateur and the (Christopher Lee‘s) Dracula whiff of Traum GmbH‘s heavy organ crawl. Beyond this overtly theatrical dirge, Black To Comm (aka Marc Richter) pulls his guiding hand free, leaving us whirling and disoriented; we’re now penniless and fucked, lost in a syrupy forest David Lynch only wishes he’d sent Laura Dern into. Only, we’re not.
Hotel Freund swoops in at the last almost-under-the-Swamp-of-Sadness moment and carries us aloft, into sparkling white towers like tubular bells of light, suspended in the inky curtain of outer space. It’s the warm tone of a favorite childhood film memory, colored with the affectionate sparkle of a mother’s embrace, a lover’s smile, or a fresh batch of no-bake cookies. It’s the sort of bliss that you’d imagine accompanies a walk up that mythical stairway; one we’re incredibly privy to, thanks to what must have been some sort of pact with the devil Richter made in exchange for crafting this sweepingly transcendent work.
After all, this is only appropriate for an album named after the second short film by Mr. Lynch himself.
Here it is, streaming in full: