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Hive Mind - Death Tone

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Artist: Hive Mind

Album: Death Tone

Label: Hanson

Review date: Mar. 21, 2005

A man known to most fans simply as Greh, the proprietor of the excellent Chondritic Sound label, has made quite a mark in recent years with his limited-run releases, often in 3” CD form. He’ also gained notoriety for melting frontal lobes as Hive Mind, his (usually) one-man sonic torture unit. Death Tone is Greh’s most widely available release to date, a one-track disc of sewage hypnotics and primal pulsations.

The slowly stewing Death Tone centers on almost subsonic distorted rumblings and an array of analog undulations – minimalist explorations with teeth. Greh chokes and mangles low-frequency tones, forcing the ragged creations to shoulder much of the album’s load. A barely audible mechanical heartbeat and wisps of arthropodal flutters rise from nothingness to begin the disc, slowly evolving into the ebb and flow of a distorted waveform, before a steady buzz envelops the sound.

Greh works in an almost episodic format, allowing one sound creation to runs its course before it segues into another. The segments escalate to a calamitous apex, rising in volume and intensity, before seceding back into nothingness in a fittingly bleak denouement. His keen use of timing and subtlety are what make Death Tone so compelling; like a stagnant pool, the slow circulation leads to thick and grimy results.

Unlike the new age credo, which calls for music to relax the senses and empty the mind, Death Tone puts the body on heightened alert with its ambience, much like the immune system goes on the defensive to ward off infectious invaders. The threat of a new wave of terror is always alive, and the ugly, writhing sections of the disc that represent its more ambient are far from soothing. Greh makes a few false steps with some higher-pitched squiggles that threaten to lighten the mood, but, on the whole, Death Tone is one of the most subliminally disturbing pieces so far in 2005. Biorhythms be damned.

By Adam Strohm

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