Dybbuk by CatafalqueRelease date: October 13, 2023
There is a very fine margin in ambient music, the knife-edge between hypnotic and repetitive, captivating and dull. Many more have fallen on the wrong side than the right, although most will spend time on both sides of that divide over the span of a few albums. Catafalque manage to find themselves crossing over multiple times during the screams of Dybbuk, their first release as version two of the concept.
Once past the short mechanical screeches that form the intro, the thirteen plus minutes of ‘Infestation’ are a wondrous blend of pulsating drums, haunting vocalisations, and menacing guitar drones. Its ability to induce a trance-like state in the listener is exactly the goal of music such as this, zoning out to be swept along in the swirls and eddies of the musical maelstrom.
Alas, this is immediately followed by ‘Oppression’, which does not live up to its moniker. A laboured trawl through ultra-slow doom bogs, it is as insipid and leaden as the previous track is inspiring and enthralling. ‘Possession’ rounds off proceedings, and finds itself somewhere between the two monoliths before it. More minimalistic in construction, it still feels as if it has meandered a touch too much by the time it is cut off.
Despite the unevenness of Dybbuk, the general impression of the new-look Catafalque is definitely a favourable one. It might not be a record that will get many repeated listens around here, yet the expectation for the next one is now ratcheted up a notch or two as they delve further down this path which they have taken.