Pings and ripples. Sirens and crashes. Creeping crawls and scratches. The new Thomas Walsh album, Epicatophora, is cohesive yet dynamic, short but immersive. It feels like a singular piece of work although it is in line with the project’s other releases.
Sometimes, Epicataphora is like Tim Hecker but frustrated. Beautiful but discontent. The pulsating, low sounds and 808s are reminiscent of the Haxan Cloak. At times, the record has a lack of focus, but then you are pulled back in, knowing that its foray into tenuousness was intentional. The drones are where this record really shines. The palate appears limited on purpose; the lows and highs do not conflict or rub elbows for space.
Some moments don’t last long enough, particularly the climax in “Imp of the Perverse.” The chugging sound of the track’s climax could have stayed around longer. The stillness of “Sulphur in the Alcove” creates a nice atmosphere to bask in. It develops slovenly, characteristically. It is beautiful and scarred. The low end in “Myrrh and Chalice” is all the drone fan wants, but the highs provide the movement that keeps the listener listening.
It is engaging and thoughtful, but it could have more purpose in its movement. But that’s not the point. The point is to get lost in the chaos. “Fulcrum” doesn’t waste any time grabbing the listener’s attention. It doesn’t let up and provides the climax for the whole album that the listener wants and needs. The album’s resolution is unexpected and satisfying. The bells and chimes are lovely, the piano distant but beautiful. It leaves ghosts in its wake.
Epicataphora is a well-produced record, probably Walsh’s best production to date. The sounds are crisp and dense. They declare their intentions. This record is a solid listen for anyone interested in ambient, drone, field recordings, film scores, and other evocative sub-genres of experimental music. One of its best attributes is that it doesn’t waste your time. It gets to the point but allows for introspection.
There is action and stasis. It is done well, but also makes the listener wonder what Walsh could do with the agency of more lon-form pieces. As skills are honed and tools are sharpened, artists like Thomas Walsh are better able to not only say what they are trying to say but to capitalize it on a way that forces the spectator to experience it for a longer amount of time.