INSECT ARK- ‘The Vanishing’

You can know that Insect Ark’s third album is the product of erstwhile members of Swans, SubRosa, and Angels of Light, released through experimental metal label Profound Lore, and inspired by a recurring nightmare, and it still won’t properly prepare you for ‘The Vanishing’.

This is sonic gloom, this is a far-off ominous storm cloud given up-close sound, this is sunlight-free sludge-thick slow-motion audio terror. You’d probably find Insect Ark records in the metal section of your nearest record store, they call themselves “Instrumental Psychedelic Doom”, and what with the deliberate, steady pace and mutated lap steel sounds throughout, there’s almost a country music vibe- only the country in question is in ruins, rusted over, and smothered in ash. 

The New York City-based outfit have got previous. The once-solo project of Dana Schechter (Andy Patterson has now joined on drums) has been producing uncomfortable soundscapes since 2011. For all the eerie ambience of their first two albums though, they were positively positive compared to this. 

‘Tectonic’ is part desert session rumble, part sci-fi drone, ‘Three Gates’ starts like a spaghetti western from hell and finishes with a beautifully punishing crescendo, and ‘Swollen Sun’, shot through with defiant synth, sounds like a lost John Carpenter score. In other spots ‘The Vanishing’ is truly tough to recommend- anyone taking on the title track through headphones risks both a bout of paranoia, and neck strain from being forced to constantly look over their shoulder to check that nothing is stalking them. 

Some of the component parts here are well worn but Schechter consistently conjures up sounds and sensations that feel unique. Even among doom’s renaissance and the work of her more-celebrated peers, ‘The Vanishing’ stands out. It would be a dream of an opus if it didn’t sound so much like a nightmare.

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