Cosmology of Eye
ne day when the river is pouring over that waterfall, downstream a clog will form—from bodies, guns, rusted death machines gone obsolete—and the rushing water, an elegant symbol of the constancy of change and stability of time, will rise to engulf the shattered society that sought to pollute it. What follows: an aqua-lit world of upraised arms, fingers squiggling and wishing to be tentacles, waving belated reconciliations to sinking enemies through a murky expanse of oil swirl and drowning ants. The water will build, the water will pile and dwarf all structure, defy gravity, and peak into a shimmering point, a sharp memorial to a record of violence.
Some things remain. To whit, the sound of water—the gurgle that muffles throat gurgles, the roar that fills the roaring throat.
GHQ conjures such paranoid fantasy through anxious, ebbing raga forms, extended drone flows absorbing and covering commune-rock guitar trances, sinuous electric forms winding over the deep, threatening and frightening all those within range. The trio is not unfamiliar with post-industrial decay-dreams. Marcia Bassett revels in dysphonic machine churns with Double Leopards and Hototogisu, creating a headspace of broken streets and writhing, fallen electrical lines. Pete Nolan blasts beats for disaffected bedroom masturbators in Magik Markers, projecting alienation in a lurid light of fury and lust. I don’t know what Steve Gunn’s done, but we’ve all got our existential issues, and he’s exploring his through violin headaches and close-quarter trumpet blows.
Their first widely distributed album follows a slew of predictably limited-run releases, none of which I’ve heard, but all of which I could imagine sounding remarkably similar to Cosmology of Eye. GHQ’s sound is nothing if not regular, each piece a dislodged chunk of a greater whole lost to time. Yet take care not to read that as predictable. The pieces don’t overlap, per se; each prefers a distinct palette of sounds, unified only by a mantric sensibility and sense of openness, a belief that each track could continue on another CD-R wedged between Gang Gang Dance and Godz on an obssessives’ shelf.
Of the five pieces, favorites are hard to come by. GHQ eschews tired build-ups and flourishes that lead to epiphanic “Best Band Ever!” gushes. But each has a portal, a point in which the listener is dropped into the GHQ soundworld, all else temporarily suspended. Opener “Drink the Good Moon” is cautiously hopeful, its busy-bee violin noise skittering amidst occasional gong tolls announcing a passage of time most have forgotten. “Cosmology of Eye” scripts a metallic dystopia, a flat land of charcoal and razor wire pelted with malfunctioning sirens. “Drift-void” finds the folk influences surfacing, the first sign of a tentative embrace of naturalism and ecstatic-moan, pre-lingual primitivism. But this is not Devendra Banhart’s whimsical, animistic world, but instead a dead-eyed, predatory nightscape with green feline eyes glittering hungrily in the brush beyond the fire.
“Lie, Live, Make It” picks up where “Drift-void” left off, lifting its earnest acoustic rituals into whirling clouds of flanged electric guitar. It’s the only epic on the album, and it deserves the tag, largely because of the huge, looping psychedelic guitar lines. Yet this surface variety hides a greater similarity: a pulse, a gurgle, something not heard but felt. Neither good nor bad, but still somehow ominous, as things impersonal tend to be. And by the end of Cosmology of Eye that gurgle grows louder, slipping down and around the ear canal. Hope you float.