apour trails of distant airplanes turning orange in the sunset, a smear of royal umber bruise. Universes appear within your iris, tremulous rumbles consume miniscule worlds. Glass and metal are pushed beyond physical limits, bend and break. Bark peels like skin from trees. Points of water evaporate under immense heat. Whispers drown out coils of industry. Forward motion is reversed and progresses faster. The church walls begin to close in again, and so you swing aside the oaken door and step outside into the buzzing orange half light another time, people still moving, still alive, even at this time of night, and you melt into the tarmac, the brickwork, the sulphur, the pallid strip-lights…
Shrouded in ten years of mystery and disappearance and elusive ‘other projects’, it’s easy to feel that ///Codename: Dustsucker doesn’t really exist. Bark Psychosis as a band don’t exist anymore, certainly not in the way they did a decade ago. John Ling and Daniel Gish have long since gone, and Mark Simnet exists on ///Codename: Dustsucker only in the form of ‘found drums’. By the time “Blue” was released and the band put on hold in 1994, Bark Psychosis had fallen away, leaving only Graham Sutton. When he put Boymerang aside in 1999 it was only natural to pick up where he had left off: resurrect Bark Psychosis and once again make a music different to that of those elsewhere, everywhere.
Use of shape, space and sound betray ///Codename: Dustsucker’s lineage and creation from the moment a corrupted, familiar melody bleats from the speakers as if it were a forgotten joke. Time is blurred for fifty minutes, topography altered, positions changed, rules of deportment completely unconsidered. It’s clear that ///: is the work of the man behind Hex and the singles compiled on Independency, but it is not simply a retread of the past, or even a direct continuation of what was left ten years ago. ///: has a decade of space and a lifetime of experience between it and its predecessor; it is necessarily a different beast. Five years of creation have ensured that every detail is deliciously agonised, every note placed with purpose, nothing left to chance except chance (a guitar is knocked over, ruptures sound like fractured bone; a flippant voicemail message given space within the minus seconds). No significance is attached to passing time; dates are ignored, anniversaries forgotten, temporal shifts unnoticed; “From What Is Said To When It’s Read” floats over you on hypnotic waves of guitar and suggestions of electronic noise, before pausing and crashing back with the force of a tidal wave, hushed, devotional vocals subsumed beneath a gorge of sound, absolute calm within absolute intensity. This is just the beginning.
Delayed organs, mouthless do-do-dos and a cascading guitar riff form the bedrock of “The Black Meat”, talk of standing on “black sand” and trees, “one for you / one for me”. Hesitancy, a clock is broken, someone closes a door. A guitar groans and signals the birth of a trumpet, slowly melting into gaseous synths and a whiff of melodica; it comes in two parts like The Isley Brothers through the looking glass. “Miss Abuse” is a cavernous, sinister cloud of dub space, a bassline crawling for a handful of notes every few bars and no more, a kick-drum with arrhythmia, an eptopic heartbeat guiding the song’s progress through vortices of sound towards the moment when a 303 begins, seizing the songs arteries and windpipe and strangling life slowly from it. ///: is uncategorisable, even neologisms fall short now that the old words have been warped. It exists in a space outside of rock, post-rock, jazz, pop, dance and avant-garde, in a nothingness zone, unfettered by genre or gatekeepers.
“Dr Innocuous / Ketamoid” rips apart the fabric at the centre of the album, a distant stamp and tear, Lee Harris using hi-hats and cymbals in a way that makes them sound like broken glass, building an intensity before stop. begin again. piano. count to three. brushed guitar strings. “Did you ever hear the one / About that bird-girl?” A pipe organ breathes for a second. “Burning The City” is an escapist dream, rebellion touched with an elegiac sense of yearning and a wry smile, warm in tone. As is “400 Winters”, caressed by a woman’s voice, tiding on acoustic guitars and falling into piano. “INQB8TR” crawls through infinite dub-space, glades of synth and destructive passages of rich, beautiful noise. “Shapeshifting” tears itself apart with electric guitar scree, filling your head before backwards loops and perpetual-motion drums guide the song through an estuary of found-sounds. “Rose” guides us home under a swell of Germanic trust and nothingness.
///Codename: Dustsucker has been a long time coming (it seems an age since its existence was first even rumoured) and it will not please everyone because it is not a simple relation of Hex. But taken on its own terms it is an outstanding record, multi-hued and consuming, concerned with invented realities and blurred lines in much the same way as Magritte’s pipe and Borges’ invented facts. Agonised, fearful, compelling, beautiful and measured with infinite precision and chaos, ///: is close to miraculous.