The first of two paired albums released by the Portland-based Indignant Senility, Plays Wagner, Pt. 1 collects a variety of untitled pieces that operate in a gloomy intersection of dark ambient and the more elegantly empty realms of black metal. Created by manipulation of cassette tape samples not far removed from the work of William Basinski, Plays Wagner is ultimately classic mood music for those who like their moods to be pretty uneasy to start with. The swells of what sound like distant horns and rolling machinery give the opening song an initial dramatic kick, while the closing song, with its half-heard but still felt stop-start moments and winding-down electronic moans, feels like a vast machinery grinding down into nothing. In contrast, the second track, while possessing similar elements, feels more soothing thanks to the predominance of a gentler drone providing a through-line amid the arcing noise, while the fourth song builds to a similarly lovely, serene moment before gently falling apart. Though there's no formal division as such in the album, these two general approaches are the constant touchstones, perhaps best achieved on the third song, with a gently majestic, distant sense of an orchestral swell combined with ragged edges of feedback suggesting a theatrical presentation beamed in from across empty space.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett