A new collaboration between High Aura’d and Josh Mason dips a bit of Florida burn into Ohio’s noise scene. Last found creeping around the RSTB pages with his psych-folk outfit Gemini Sisters, John Kolodij’s High Aura’d has remained a long-standing stain (in a great way) on the Midwest’s noise nooks and psych-folk circles. This time the he works with Mason to wind through the hushed corners of menacing silence — distant echoes, scrapes unseen, the mind playing constant tricks on the listener. Underneath the unsettling clatter, guitars seethe and kick at the amplifier, never bursting forth from their bounds, but pressing against the restraints with a physical presence. Opener “Rhododendron” howls — a trapped animal in full panic, hackles raised, poised to strike.
Further in the feelings are less feral and more fetal. “Silver” trims the fangs, and feels remorseful, shamed, not quite broken, but close. The arc of the record then follows to transcendence, coiling again into strength. The guitars on “Black” burn with a caustic tension that feels on par with Stephen R. Smith’s various convergences under the Ulaan banner. Here too there’s the sense of gnawing desperation and icy will that Smith has been able to imbue his works with all these years. The record draws to a close dug further into depths than before — alive but barely, breathing in spite of itself. There’d be a bit of relief in the final moments but the pair let just a glimmer of iris and a glint of fang show all the way to the end. Both artists are pushing their personal styles to the edges and coming out with a collaboration that’s riveting the whole way through.
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