Label: Lost Tribe Sound
Release: Therianthrope Series
Mastered By: Ian Hawgood
Designed By: R. Keane
In May 2023, Lost Tribe Sound announced an upcoming release from Arrowounds titled Therianthrope Series. Founded in 2010 by Ryan Keane, this independent record label, specializing in music transcending all genres, has brought us many amazing records from the likes of William Ryan Fritch, Benoit Pioulard, From the Mouth of the Sun, kj, Western Skies Motel and more. This is not the first time the imprint has packaged releases together. In 2019, there was an 8-album series called “We Stayed The Path That Fell To Shadow“. A year later, there was the year-long 15-album subscription series “Built Upon A Fearful Void,” for which I gave a quick Sound Bytes shout-out with this coverage. This is where I first glimpsed the work of Ryan S Chamberlain as Arrowounds with The Loneliness of the Deep Sea Diver. This year, the label runs an 11-album subscription series called “Maps To Where The Poison Grows“. And if that wasn’t enough, the aforementioned series is yet another thing for you to follow! And this is what I’m diving into with you today.
In The Octopus Pond
We begin with In The Octopus Pond, the first album in the series, released on March 31st, 2023. Full of dark ambience and textural soundscapes, the album is somewhere between the post-rock and psychedelic shoegaze territory, making me think, once again, of The Future Sound of London, or, more specifically, their Amorphous Androgynous offshoot, mixed with a bit of Slowdive, Seefeel, and Orphax. The percussive loops give the album a bit of an uplift, but if you peel back this layer, you will find hidden depths. I mean, just look at that album cover (designed by Ryan Keane). The reference to the mollusc-populated body of water echoes in the dense sounds that rise above for a quick breath, only to be pulled back again into the void. There is a pretty rich background narrative in the form of a short story, which you can read on the album’s Bandcamp, but suffice it to say, the brood of the mystic octopi has ruled the green planet. “This is an account of the mystic’s rituals of sound and rhythm with the dichotomy of cranes and demons. In the octopus pond of labyrinthine gateways, all aligned with both prior and future conjunctions.” At times a little suffocating (in a good way), the six long-playing tracks leave plenty of room for you to respire. But don’t get too comfortable just yet…
The Slow Boiling Amphibian Dreamstate
The second album in the series is a whole other affair. I actually whipped out a pair of my favourite headphones for the third consecutive listening. Replacing molluscs with amphibians, Chamberlain takes us into the darker corners of his abandoned pond. Albeit percussion is still a little present, it is now further behind the shuffling textures, processed and slowed. “Weighty, pressurized rhythms keep the material firmly embedded on the seafloor, while obtuse skeletal melodies provide small pockets of levity and the only breathable air.” Here, we are submerged in a sluggish, thick, and heady trip, slowly getting used to its weight and suffocating oppressive tension, just like a slowly boiled frog. Demented memories of The Caretaker mixed with the darkness of The Inward Circles come to mind again (like they did with The Loneliness of the Deep Sea Diver), pulling us deeper behind the veil. The mythical story continues, recalling its history, now long gone, of the world in part human, part animal rule. Is this a fantasy or another dimension? Cold rains come down on this terrain, where amphibians live, drenching the last bits of ever-burn fires. This is the stuff of nightmares and bad hallucinogenic trips, and I love every moment of it. I think you will, too!
The Honeycomb Labyrinth
The third album in the series, which actually consists of a trilogy of all of the above, plus a fourth instalment for subscribers only, completing the story so deeply outlined, is called The Honeycomb Labyrinth. This is, again, a different sound. Scattered rhythms, ticking timepieces, and whirring devices hint at a swarm of a colony deep in the honeycomb. Twisted machinery is glitching on surfaces, patterns discovered, and models evolved. “The bizarre alien mechanics buzzed and skittered their way into our psyche, like a brain-burrowing beetle latching on to our cerebellum. These heaving insectile behemoths left us no choice but to relent to the hive mind.” Scratching at the surface of the collective consciousness, these sounds may not be for the lighthearted, but fans of Autechre, Pan Sonic, and CoH will appreciate the sound design. These are organic and unearthly expressions, set into formats by systems unknown. Here, the darkness is everywhere as we descend into the apiary of droning lifeforms. Deep-buried tunnels spiral into obscurity where shadows await. And finally, at the end of this unnerving journey, you may find yourself in the presence of the abyss. As I said – not for the sunny days of your weekend, but it will certainly move you and leave you impinged.
You can pick up the first two albums from the series directly from Arrowounds’ Bandcamp, with The Honeycomb Labyrinth scheduled to be released on November 17th, 2023. And, once again, if you subscribe to the series, you will get the fourth bonus album, titled Burial Trances, scheduled to conclude the Therianthrope Series in December. There is also a limited release of a 4CD Hardcover book + 8 posters! Highly recommended!