She Spread Sorrow’s sophomore album has arrived, with a fresh batch of darkly ambient death industrial tracks. We are offered five songs of electronics, noises, samples and whispered vocals that work together to summon an atmosphere of “distorted faith, repressed desires, guilt, punishment, discipline and perversion”. A broad variety of sound sources come into play as a foundation of ritual ambient is complemented with layers of distortion, murky electronics and echoing vocals, assaulting the common sense of the listener.
Suggestive titles like “Crushed on the Pillow”, “Lust” and “Straight Back” serve as headlines to shadow laced, low-key ambient tracks filled with constrained energy. In some tracks, said energy remains in the fold, but ever so often it breaks its bonds and cause the compositions to escalate towards a more intense form of violence. While this is largely an atmospheric album, there are still reasons to bring out the worn and confused “power electronics” label when speaking of Mine.
She Spread Sorrow is female-fronted, founded and driven forward by Alice Kundalini. This evokes the question if this matters. Is this women’s Whitehouse? Gyneric Genocide Organ? Girlie Grunt (I’ll stop now)? The answer is yes and no. Where giants of the genre like Sutcliffe Jugend scream “Lift your ass up, higher” over chaotic distortion, She Spread Sorrow whispers “I had not the courage to touch her” over a subdued yet intense nightmare of low-key samples, organ melodies and almost meditative junk abuse. Regardless of the degree to which you want to bring gender into the discussion, it is clear that She Spread Sorrow goes for the distressing and the subtle, rather than the offensive and aggressive. Furthermore, “distressing” is probably the major adjective one should use when talking about Mine. This is some dark stuff, simply put, and very well crafted to boot.
Conceptually, we’re “between the dark rooms of an abandoned college, where whispers and obscene thoughts mingle”. Amazingly, She Spread Sorrow manages to present a specific vision of this obscure environment without feeling like it’s done as some kind of academic, theoretic thingie, or like it’s motivated purely by a will to pornographic or provocative shock value. The concept and sound could serve as the fundament of feminist analysis, shoddily written erotica, or a psychologically driven critique of educational institutions or “organized religion”. Or it could, as I would suggest it should, be enjoyed as a pure piece of death industrial/ritual ambient with an interesting theme.
Listening to She Spread Sorrow, you will probably discover that there are power electronics paths to travel that are neither mere continuations of the original political/sexual/cultural shock tactics, nor a retreat into stale mainstream radicalism. Sin, loneliness, outsiderness and darkness needn’t always be “extreme” to warrant sonic and intellectual examination.