As the first two installments of a seven-part subscription series on Die Stadt, David Jackman (as Organum Electronics) has fashioned two new long-form pieces that are seemingly sparse in their formation, but like the entirety of his lengthy discography, result in something with so much more depth. Material utilized in other recent works from him are building blocks in these two discs, but compared to the quiet and understated recent material, these align much more closely with his earlier, noisier material, and continues to demonstrate his compositions are as fascinating as ever.
Quietude is the noisier and overall more forceful of the two albums. It beings with an immediate blast of dense buzzing noise that approximates a jet engine very well, but multilayered and treated to give an amazing sense of depth and nuance. At times it almost seems as if it is a basic sound being utilized, such as the hum of a florescent lightbulb, blown out to massive proportions. The sound is sprawling, with intersecting passages shifting focus throughout. Shimmering engine sounds cascade over a continual buzz, with occasionally bassy churning sounds bubbling to the surface. Layers eventually relent alongside what sounds like rattling, scraping chains, leading to a jarring ending.
That sustained roar of sound leads right into Darcknes as well, although here the noise seems to be laced more with the sounds of organs. The mix is not quite as dense though and sounds of ravens and tolling bells that have been featured in some of his recent works appear here as well.
Jackman builds walls of sound and then peels them back, allowing what sounds like grinding metal to mesh with the apocalyptic organ stabs. Of the two albums this one is the more dynamic, with a bit more breathing room compared to Quietude, although this peace is always short-lived.
Considering the sparse nature of his recent output where the focus was on sparse organic instruments and field recordings, these two compositions are the exact opposite in construction. Each piece is a solid 40 minutes in length, and while there are some spaces in which the mix is pared somewhat back, they overall never relent until they come to abrupt conclusions. From a dynamic standpoint there are parallels with the harsh noise wall genre, but Jackman's touch is far too nuanced to lump into a single category or genre. Even at his most subtle and sparse, he manages to bring out the most captivating facets of the most basic of sounds, which is just as strong here in full on maximalist mode.
While I am unsure what distinguishes work as Organum Electronics from his output as Organum, or the recent material under his own name, none of that really matters given the quality of these two discs. As aforementioned, these are the first two installments of a seven-part series (with an additional album for subscribers) that are intended to form a larger piece that Jackman has been working on since 2018. What unifies them is of course a mystery for now, and one that is likely not to be obvious given his penchant for ambiguity, but I think that they will be nothing short of mesmerizing.