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Insomnis | Miscellaneous Recordings: Silent and Helpless/Pale (Blessed)
Eric Lyman is clearly no stranger to the world of the insomniac: a twilight zone of dislocation, confusion and surrealism, as waking and dreaming become intertwined. This collection is perhaps a sonic approximation of that fitful state of mind, and as equally stark and unsettling. There is an Industrial presence casting a shadow over these compositions, which is reminiscent of both Michael Gira and Genesis P-Orridge, in mood generation and vocal delivery respectively. But to suggest that Lyman's work with Insomnis is that of an acolyte, would be a great disservice, as Lyman clearly has a talent for creating beguiling works that exude a bleak ambience. Instrumentals such as Spooky and Desolate certainly live up to their names, as occasional piano/organ tones dive in and out of a sea of growling and fizzing electronic white noise, mixed to an unobtrusive level. Elsewhere, ritualistic percussive excursions such as I Know What You Need are comparable in their dark rumblings to Public Image Limited's unexpectedly shamanic 'Flowers of Romance' album. More organic textures come courtesy of the use of the acoustic guitar throughout these recordings, sometimes as a textural component, like in the piece Blacken Me, yet on other occasions providing minimal melodies. Although the more song based compositions, such as Pale Beside Me, are not conventional folk songs, there is a certain amount of recognition of the darker side of the English and American folk traditions. Indeed, the lyrical content here, reflects the subject matter of much traditional music, as images of nature, God and the Devil are suitable counterpoints to the sombre music. In brief, the home recordings of Insomnis offered here are challenging, but not inaccessible, mood pieces with a scope that transcends the limitations of the 8-track equipment on which they were recorded.

Simon Berkovitch
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002