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culture

Sound Advice: Communion, by Black Walls

Some records encourage you to get lost in them; Communion insists upon it.

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Every culture in every age has attempted to define and understand what happens when we dream. Dreams themselves have been explained as everything from prophecies to the brain’s attempts to work unconsciously through conflicts and anxieties. Perhaps just as compelling as the issue of what dreams are made of, however, is the question of where they take us—other planes of existence, for example, or alternate dimensions. Of course, science and logic tell us that dreams take place not in some mystical “elsewhere,” but in a landscape of the unconscious mind that, for all its interiority, seems nonetheless to be a “place,” and one that’s both endlessly weird and eerily specific.

With Communion, experimental drone project Black Walls does an exceptional job of conjuring that sense of simultaneous intimacy and otherness that characterizes the inside of dreams. The elliptical, post-rock structures of the song seem to decay, becoming more fragmented as the tracks progress. The individual tracks bleed into one another, forming a narrative at once connected and entirely non-linear that transforms constantly and with each subsequent listen.

The musical textures are somewhere between jelly and smoke—full of lush contrasts, easy to sink into, and with incredible sensory depth, but almost impossible to pick up and hold. The titular track has a shuddering uncertainty that creates a beautiful and nebulous effect; “Funeral/Wake” expertly captures a sense of confusion in grief and evokes a pure emotional experience that can be articulated only through a kind of raw keening. Central track “PTSD” is the cornerstone of the record, however; it’s an ever-shifting and amorphous creation that edges close to clarity, only to retreat into an ecstasy of shoegaze refusal. It’s easy to get lost in the gel and cloud of Communion‘s dreamscape, but the disorientation is worth it.

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