The Helix

Cover Image
Envenomist - The Helix

March 31, 2009

US CD Killer Pimp PIMPK007

  1. The 11th Hour - [MP3]
  2. Heptadecagon
  3. Final Frontier
  4. Gyres
  5. Bestowal

Music by David Reed
Artwork by Robert Trautman

CD has enhanced content with artwork by David Reed and MP3s of:

One of the most interesting realities of US dark ambient/death industrial scene, combining low-rumbling drones with extemporaneous noise bursts to create a pretty personal and recognizable sound.

Columbus, Ohio-based David Reed has been recording music under various monikers since the year 2000. He currently records under his own name and has two other active solo projects, Luasa Raelon and Envenomist. Envenomist is sourced solely using synthesiers to produce dark ambience heavily influenced by Maurizio Bianchi while bringing a lot of Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze into the mix. He is also a member of Starlight Fleecing with Larry Marotta and Ryan Jewell. Other activities include playing in the Larry Marotta Group, the Avant Collective, and as part of the Rocco DiPietro Ensemble.

The Helix was recorded over the fall and winter of 2007. Using analogue synthesizers as the sound source, the intent was to create a series of transmissions from space. Not in the narrative sense, rather as a series of abstracted visions or moods from a lone traveler attempting to come to grips with the sublime.

Even the softest hammers make a sound. German scape-makers Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze are cited as influence points to David Reed's Envenomist project. On The Helix, long, occasionally pulsating drones cloud all audible space, creating a suffocating dirge of microwave hums and almost-melody. "Heptadecagon" is like an apocalypse accordion—one or two notes inhaling and exhaling while humanity is offed. "Gyres" is way more suggestive, however. The sound of the Borg's vibrators on high. One in the "p." One in the "a." - Chris Dick, Decibel

Columbus, Ohio-based David Reed issues material under his own name as well as Luasa Raelon and Envenomist. Under the latter, Reed works exclusively with analogue synthesizers to sculpt dark ambient settings that, at least in the case of The Helix, suggest lonely transmissions emanating from the farthest reaches of space. Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze are cited as reference points but the Envenomist sound is darker and rather more terrifying. Recorded over the fall and winter of 2007, The Helix aligns dissonant synthesizer chords burning as if on fire with humongous masses that shimmer and shudder by turn. Imagine the shock and awe the sole surviving member of a space crew might experience as the ship, incapable of returning to earth, travels ever deeper into the cosmos, and you'll have some idea of the sonic character of the five pieces Reed presents on this enhanced CD (also included are artwork by Reed and MP3s of "Apparition" and "Glacial Drift"). With gargantuan slabs and crushing drones colliding in slow motion, "Final Frontier" and "Bestowal" are as nightmarish as their titles suggest while "Gyres," broiling and seething like some massive fireball, ratchets the intensity up a notch. All told, The Helix is stupefying, but in a good way. - Textura

The coolest thing I can say about Envenomist is that The Helix scares my cats. Every time I started up a track from this album, with its droning bass and screechy overtones, both cats would scurry for the nearest cover, hiding for several minutes until they adjusted to the creepy sounds coming out of my speakers. Envenomist is a full-on synthesizer project from David Nathan Reed, who has done a lot of other dark industrial-style music with a bunch of different names including his own, Starlight Fleecing, Avant Collective and Luasa Raelon. The material on The Helix consists of minimalist, slow-moving, unsettling soundscapes. It's interesting stuff, at least for a little while. Reed makes no attempt to make anything on the album resemble natural instruments, and there's nothing approaching a beat on any of the five tracks. This album is really just a collection of creepy soundscapes, like the soundtrack to some art-house horror film that never existed. The formula is relatively simple: Most tracks start with a low-bass sound and add high overtones that seem to scrape across each other as they pass. Sometimes it's a single tone, but most often several dissonant high sounds clash against each other, coming in slowly and leaving gradually. In the midrange, other sounds come and go, adding more atmosphere as the tracks flow glacially along. This is all very effective at first. The first two tracks, "The 11th Hour" and "Heptadecagon" use these elements quite well and are sort of fascinating to hear. It's a bit unnerving to hear these sounds push against each other like thick oil or some other viscous fluid. But by the third track, "Final Frontier", it's clear that this is the only trick Reed has up his sleeve. Every one of these five soundscapes sounds essentially the same and even after listening to the album many times, listeners will be hard-pressed to identify one track from the next. "Gyres" leaves out most of the highest tones, while "Bestowal" pumps up the dissonance a bit, but it's not enough to make any one chunk stand out from the next. Essentially The Helix sounds like one big 35-minute experiment in dark sound collages. And the novelty wears off after about 10 to 12 minutes, so either Envenomist intended this as a full-length album piece, or he thought the tracks would stand on its own. Either way, there isn't enough here to keep things interesting for the length of the album, which is too bad because Envenomist has the potential to be something quite exciting. It leaves you wishing David Nathan Reed had changed things up a bit throughout the course of the album. This is possibly the pitfall of having your hand in too many projects at once. You tend to compartmentalize your ideas to the point where the music within one project sounds too similar because you're saving ideas for another project. - Chris Conaton, PopMatters

Holy shit is this Killer Pimp label kicking our ass. First the recent Dead Letters cd that we made Record Of The Week, then the gorgeous Aidan Baker / Thisquietarmy collaboration, before that there was the A Place To Bury Strangers record, and now this new Envenomist disc! (There are a few others on deck too, to be reviewed soon we hope). Pretty bad ass for a first batch of releases we think. We'd been dying to hear more from Envenomist, who we haven't heard from since we reviewed the Black Bile tape way back in 2007. Sonically very little has changed, extended soundscapes of shimmery metallic buzz over deep low end thrum, layered into softly undulating sonic swells, ominous and haunting and so cinematic. As we most certainly have mentioned before, movie makers should be looking to the underground music scene for truly original, and in the case of Envenomist, truly frightening music for their films. The sounds of Envenomist are noisy, but the noise is blurred and smeared, muted and dulled, a soft noise that is so evocative, of ashen skies, burning wastelands, cold barren landscapes, mysterious otherworlds, lost planets, underground caverns, these sounds are so subtly harrowing and haunting, conjuring a sense of doom, of loneliness, of death and destruction, of sadness and sorrow, the long tones build tension, creating a sense of an impending end, to life, to everything, but while creating this palpable sense of dread, Envenomist manages to create a sound that is also beautiful, perhaps blackly beautiful, but beautiful nonetheless, hypnotic and mesmerizing, mysterious and truly creepy, but again, soothing and meditative, a sort of doom-ic new age perhaps, whatever you call it, it's pretty fantastic, and has been a constant late night listen since we first got it in. And another winner from Killer Pimp... - Aquarius

David Reed is the dark and mangled mind behind Envenomist, and his distinct breed of dark ambient, drone works are absolutely cavernous. This disc is, of course, no different, and the quality of production only deepens the effect. Opening with "The 11th Hour," The Helix starts down and never gets up. Thick and immense swells of tone rise and fall, dispersing into each other deep into the invisible tunnels they inhabit. With a special ear for a certain level of monolithic, prehistoric mammoth soundtracking, Reed draws a cautious line between craftsmanship and noise, always opting to air on the side of mood over movement. These are carefully wrought crevices that are each distinct in their own right. "Heptadecagon" creeps outward on its fingers as it finds ears, the quickest route to the brains it feasts on. Overboard animalization? Perhaps, but the feel is there. Elsewhere, as on "Final Frontier" and "Bestowal," Reed takes analmost sci-fi approach, which rich swirls of synth comingling in a hum of static. Never one to clutter, Reed's works always pervade a certain spatial conception, but whether its as open a space as explored on "Bestowal" or as closed a one as on "Gyres," it is never a welcoming locale. Luckily there are enough creepy and undiscovered insects to keep you occupied until the wolves come. It's a real burner for sure, static in all the right ways and, more than anything, quite simple in its blatant exploration of tonal landscapes. A real winner. - The Ear Conditioned Nightmare