Oct 2022 31

Album CoverBurial Hex
Album: Gauze
Category: Horror Electronics / Post-Industrial
Label: Cold Spring
Release date: 2022-03-11


Clay Ruby has been producing music under the name Burial Hex since 2005. His latest release, Gauze consists of material assembled between 2011 and 2022 and continues Ruby’s use of horror electronics to examine our culture’s attitudes toward death and spirituality. Horror electronics, as Ruby practices it, is a finely balanced musical practice blending traditional instrumentation with the potential for overwhelming the senses offered by experimental use of electronic elements. Gauze as a whole is concerned with a struggle with existential horrors and suggests that finding beauty in the aesthetic desolation expressed in the music may be a way through that struggle.

Half of the album’s songs evoke broad wastes and titanic natural or unnatural disasters. From “Lost Sailor” to “Auspices,” untreated instruments contrast with distorted, unintelligible vocals broadcast over a great distance from an overpowered amplifier. The use of distorted noise both obscures the vocals and signifies high winds and tempests in this first half of the album. On “Lion’s Breath,” a ritualistic beat anchors the song while wails or groans give way to growls. Ruby never makes the sounds oppressively dense – space for every sound is provided, and his use of reverb on the more percussive tracks suggests giant halls when it doesn’t suggest deserted plains or tundra.

The second half spends less time in frozen wastes, using more intelligible vocal elements and ensemble playing to illustrate community ritual. “Sed Libera Nos a Malos” (“Deliver us from evil” is the familiar translation of the phrase from the Lord’s Prayer) consists of the repetition of that phrase, the sounds of birds, and a mournful dirge with choral elements. The pitches of each element change throughout. The overall effect does not undercut the sentiment of “Deliver us from evil,” but instead emphasizes the difficulty of spiritual struggle. The remaining three songs similarly utilize repetitive elements, such as chanted vocals, and with “Sed Libera Nos a Malos,” form an impressive aesthetic unit. “Double Scorpio” begins with a synthesized babbling brook and finishes with an ensemble of instruments beautifully working out a theme between the notes struck by a piano and a bell. As the album comes to its conclusion, Ruby uses samples of what sound like ritual texts read in German, children giggling, and convulsive grunts of pain. On “Two Rivers,” thunderingly echoing drums form the basis of something resembling a pop song. There is harmony to be heard, but dissonance is always around the corner.

The Bandcamp page for Gauze presents a poem that incorporates Pagan elements into Psalm 91, furthering the development of magickal and ritualistic facets of foundational acts like Coil. So much industrial is reflexively anti-religion that to find compositions which sincerely try to reconcile or engage the Pagan with Jewish and Christian traditions adds to the album’s mystique. While this spiritual complexity has been present for the nearly two decades of Burial Hex’s existence, Clay Ruby has strengthened and deepened his aesthetic since the opening chaos of Initiations’ “Will to the Chapel,” in which stately synth arrangements give way to walls of noise punctuated by shrieks of “Thy will be done!” Gauze rewards careful listeners with a dense, suggestive song cycle that invites close attention.
Track list:

  1. Lost Sailor
  2. Lion’s Breath
  3. Treasure Spirits
  4. Auspices
  5. Sed Libera Nos a Malo
  6. Double Scorpio
  7. Gauze
  8. Two Rivers

Burial Hex
SoundCloud, Bandcamp, Instagram
Cold Spring
Website, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, YouTube, Instagram
Justin Roby (c.pollard)

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