Review of Sky Burial's 'Pas the Sarvering Gallack Seas and Flaming Nebyul Eye' from Zen of Sound

"Sky Burial's latest release, with a cryptic title taken from a line in Russell Hoban's dystopian novel RIDDLEY WALKER, builds on the expansion of sound and ideas found on the previous release THERE I SAW THE GREY WOLF GAPING. Spearheaded by Michael Page and originally intended as a dark-ambient counterpart to his industrial / noise project Fire In The Head, Sky Burial's sound has gradually morphed over the years into something far more complex than mere dark ambient drone, a notion made obvious by the first track, "Na Fir Ghorm," which announces itself with a burst of keyboard notes swaddled in ping-pong delay and a scratchy rhythm that eventually resolves into long keyboard drones and a synth-driven sound reminiscent of early Tangerine Dream. Piper Craig McFarlane and Nocturnal Emissions sound-sculptor Nigel Ayers also contribute to the sonic tapestry, which winds and unfolds into layers of sound that rise and fall against the bedrock drone. The title track, whose drone center is leavened with cryptic sounds from Page and several collaborators (John Balistreri of Slogun and Self, Pentti Dassum of Umpio and The Kali Ensemble, and the mysterious Stargazer's Assistant), is a bit closer to Sky Burial's original aesthetic -- plenty of unearthly sounds processed from unidentifiable sources, some rhythmic and some textural, all flowing through and around a dark cosmic drone.
 
The next two tracks -- "Vessel" and "The Longest Day Heralds The Darkness To Follow" -- take up the bulk of the album, with each one in the neighborhood of twenty minutes. "Vessel" begins with deep, bleak drones from the blackest realms of space, but that ominous sound is eventually augmented by elements of sparse, clattering percussion and high-pitched keyboard wailing, then by looped cyclotron sounds and a wide variety of shifting keyboard textures that keep the lengthy piece from ever becoming static. The next track continues the motif of the interstellar drone, but adds more rhythmic elements and an edgier sense of dissonance, along with intermittent explosions of sound just to keep you on your toes. The final track, "Fuligin Cloak," is a stacked ensemble of keyboard drones constructed with assistance from Andrew Grant (aka The Vomit Arsonist, whose name conjures up images you would probably never wish to have floating around in your skull). Those majestic drones are peppered with the audio equivalent of cosmic stardust, and the sound that results is as elegiac as they are haunting.
 
As always with Sky Burial, not only is the album itself excellent, but the packaging is worthy of its own attention. The disc comes in a beautiful spot-laminated digipak with original photography by Daniel Page, and its overall design is simple but elegant, with blue and white hues that nicely complement the album's mysterious, ethereal feel. Another essential purchase for the discerning dronehead."