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Cross Purposes

Forms Of Things Unknown
Cross Purposes
(Panaxis Records)

Based on written word alone, it would be easy to shuffle off Cross Purposes by Forms Of Things Unknown as a load of pretentious twaddle. Created by a fellow who goes by the name of Ferrara Brain Pan, this 5 track, 30-minute EP runs the gamut from dark ambient to medieval-sounding wind instrumentals. Listening to the release, though, it's obvious that Pan has a good handle on creating ominous environments with a rather stunning array of musical instruments.

Although primarily a windplayer, Brain Pan also breaks out just about any somewhat archaic instrument that helps him accomplish his goals. In addition to the more traditional flutes, saxophone, and bass clarinet, he plays a harmonium, Tibetan singing bowls, a glockenspiel, a yidaki (the Aboriginal name for the native Australian didgeridoo), a shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute), a kang ling (a Tibetan Buddist ritual instrument made from a human thighbone), and others.

The album leads off with "Black Candles And Pentagrams 'N Shit," a 16-minute rumbling drone epic that is the standout of the album. The two-piece track starts out with the segment "Risen, The Judas Moon," and it's literally some of the creepiest music I've listened to since early work by Coil. Blending skittering electronic effects with cut-up glockenspiel and layers of haunting noise, it's far creepier than any halloween sound effects record you could hope to find. One of the wind instruments played in the first part of the track (most likely the thighbone trumpet) actually sounds like the wails of a disembodied spirit. The second part of the track ("Errant Bodies") continues some of the same background noises, but brings a repeated bass clarinet melody in that amazingly lightens the mood slightly (despite the gloomy sound of the instrument) after the rather chilling opening section.

The remaining tracks on the disc are about as contrasting as you could expect given the dense opening. "Mariam Matrem" is a 14th Century devotional Christian song with nice vocals by Shannon Wolfe (recalling work by Miranda Sex Garden) while the album closer is a rather overbearing cover of "Stupid Blood." Given the rather timeless feel of the first part of the release, the final track is simply a bit too much for the otherwise understated release. Given that this is a debut release, the slight indecision can be overlooked a bit. With a guest appearence by Steven Stapleton of Nurse With Wound (under a different name), the short disc already has a small stamp of authority. For fans of Coil, Nurse With Wound, and other musick.

Rating: 7