gulaggh Vorkuta (digipak CD, £11.75)label: Crucial Blast Records
Reissue of 2009 debut album from Dutch group formerly known as Stalaggh Intensely harrowing sound-collage is equal parts hellish free-improv and dissonant chamber horror. 2013 edition comes in a black sleeve with metallic silver printing. In 2008, Dutch black noise maniacs Stalaggh announced that they altering their sound and changing their name to Gulaggh, with the new incarnation of the band creating their terrifying soundscapes using orchestral instruments instead of the blackened, ultra-harsh distortion and feedback of their previous works. And while their updated sound isn’t as harsh or oppressive as the Stalaggh material, Gulaggh delivers something equally disturbing and nightmarish with their debut album Vorkuta. The first chapter in a planned trilogy, Vorkuta was initially released in 2009 by New Era Productions. The album soon went out of print, but has been resurrected by Crucial Blast in a revised package for newcomers to Gulaggh’s dissonant, otherworldly dread. Comprised of a single 45-minute track, Vorkuta is an epic sound-collage of surrealistic dread employing violins, saxophones, trumpets, electronics and voices. Growing slowly and inexorably from ominous, murky ambience into a bizarre aural nightmare, Vorkuta is like a cross between some demonic chamber ensemble tuning up and a free-jazz group achieving maximum dissonance. Intensely harrowing and deeply creepy, the album is one of the more uncomfortable listens in recent memory—equal parts hellish free-improv, dissonant chamber horror and intensely disturbing sound collage.
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