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grey wolves
blood and sand
cold spring   2002
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album rating: 3

submitted by jc smith on 26-Feb-2003

Blood And Sand is the CD version of a cassette released shortly after the Gulf War; it's appropriateness now, amidst potential/probable U.S./Middle East hostilities or, as the liner notes state, "...comes as the U.S. military is cranking up the machine for a second Gulf war..." cannot be ignored.

Though The Grey Wolves are known for a more abusive, powerful attack (not that abuse or power is lacking here!), Blood And Sand contains two long pieces ("Desert Storm," "Gulf Breeze"), sonicscapes stretched out across the arid desert, subtly sinister war-encrusted ambiences highlighting mental attrition (via caustic repetition) as mental shrapnel, 56 minutes of mutating sonic collages. There's a sense of weariness to the proceedings, as the first track unfolds, murky and unclear, exhausted sounds riddled with echoed blasts, electronic gunshots that warble and ripple (strangely moist), buzzing electronics that simmer within striking distance, but linger, untested...(it's like the audio interpretation of the impatient waiting—the moments in between--that war instills in the participants, adrenalin fueled but with no outlet, tapped only during bursts of gunfire or worse). Tones are harsh, yet muted, conveying a distance that the bullet crosses in mere seconds. Voice transmissions are muffled and incoherent, but their intent is obvious, droning in the background, as the tones themselves drone in mind-numbing reconnaissance. It somehow seems appropriate, sun-drained and fatigued. The second track loops some kind of crackling, sizzling tones, as more cluttered ambiences, full of twisted, contorted sounds, voices, and timbres that deceptively glimmer like glass exploding in one's face, step to the frontline. A more maddening ambience is filtered through the weariness here, harsh fields littered with the debris of insanity, monotonously wearing—an emphasis on how wrong it all feels can be gleaned from the expertly sequenced sounds. There's even a section with percussion amidst gurgling electronics—a rhythm to the madness? No, it's just a tease before manipulated voices (?) are devoured by slobbering electronics that lap at one's ears with infection, as the pulse of helicopter blades flutter out of focus. Play this as a warning over the White House loudspeakers and maybe the sands will not be stained with the crimson hues of death. Powerful sonics, indeed!

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