Pitchfork (Website) - "'Into the Silent Waves' is really a 10-minute introduction, massaging in drones and noise until it reaches a stirring density worthy of its name."
Audio Mixer: James Plotkin.
Photographer: Faith Coloccia.
Usually, when two acts team up to experiment on collaborative albums, the effort results in a release where one side of the equation is dominant; the recording may be excellent, but it's not quite what the participants planned. Hydra Head has been on the pulse of all things post-rock, and this collaboration, between Aidan Baker, Leah Buckareff's Nadja, and Denton, TX, quintet Pyramids is as pure a collaborative effort as is humanly possible. The end result feels like an entirely new band, even as each act's signature elements are present in these four long cuts. With the disc clocking in at just under an hour, the shortest of these tracks is a hair over ten minutes, with the longest at almost 22. Along with the participation of both bands, there are several guests, including ex-Cocteau Twins bassist Simon Raymonde on two tracks, as well as vocalists Chris Simpson of Mineral on "Another War," and Albin Julius of Der Blutarsch on "An Angel Was Heard to Cry Over the City of Rome." The set was mixed and mastered by James Plotkin. The end result winds, wraps, and ultimately melts together the shoegazer-thudding, melodic heaviness of Nadja (who can pummel a listener into submission while simultaneously breaking her/his heart) and the dreamy, blissed-out, sun-drenched softness and prettiness of Pyramids (as well as their metallic side), while adding sonic effects that can either assault or hypnotize the listener simultaneously. On the long-hinge piece "Sound of Ice and Grass," it's both. Anyone who's heard the self-titled debut by Pyramids (also on Hydra Head) understands they are utterly impossible to pigeonhole; along with their beautiful gauzy textures is their ability to create a melodic yet buzzing blackened metal that is as evil as Xasthur's without the satanic ranting. Their bit here, along with Nadja's droning, slow, tumultuous quaking, creates something of such power, grace, spaciousness, and drama that one can hear something new in it each time it's listened to. The album's final cut, "An Angel Was Heard to Cry Over the City of Rome," is the most bafflingly beautiful thing here. It begins with some nearly melodic backwards tape manipulation of an organ and strings in a single melodic phrase before Julius begins to sing a cappella (not unlike Jeff Buckley) with overdubbed, heavily reverbed effects. A droning guitar is heard in the backdrop that becomes ever more pronounced until, at just over the three-minute mark, a low-tuned bass roar and blastbeats temporarily take over the entire track. His vocals disappear, and an anthemic, Jesu-esque melodic churn replaces it. This sequence becomes ever more pronounced; the hypnotic heaviness increases just as the melody slowly begins to drop out until it's eventually just a wall of controlled feedback and guitar wail. It returns -- even louder -- just a couple of minutes before the end with both Julius' vocals and another growling black howl ululating underneath. This set is simply stunning and comes in a typically beautiful hard digipack sleeve to boot. Simply put: there is no other music like this out there. ~ Thom Jurek