Mick Harris

Somnific Flux

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Somnific Flux Review

by Ned Raggett

Given that Harris and Laswell had worked together on various projects before, most notably the thrash/free jazz-inspired Painkiller, a collaborative album was likely to turn up at some time. As a result, Somnific Flux really isn't a surprise at all, even less so in terms of sound -- it's neither Harris' more beat-oriented work in Scorn nor his chilled ambient doom in Lull, though it tends much more toward the latter. There's no percussion, for one thing, and plenty of doom-laden drones on the other but, instead of the perfectly serene spiral downward that albums like Cold Summer and Continue offer, there's a touch more activity and a slightly softer edge to Somnific Flux. Clearly, it's Laswell bringing that in (in his usual finger-in-every-pie way) and, if the results aren't as breathtakingly haunting as Lull, the end results are still worth listening to. Both tracks clock in at over half an hour and follow the same general pattern of slowly cascading, rising and falling echoes and deep tones -- call it "dark ambient," call it "isolationist," call it what you like, it's as good a representation of that wing of exploratory early- to mid-'90s sonics as any. "Distal Sonority" veers between Harris' more full-on darkness and Laswell's calmer touch, but generally the former wins out, combinations of heavily processed howls and bass-heavy groans keeping a subtle, slow, but still present rhythm at many points. Still, the aquatic loop near at the end sure sounds like Laswell trying for a calm landing. "Capacious" doesn't really vary that general formula at all, perhaps not quite as unnerving and more generally calm than "Distal Sonority," and possessed of an attractively aggressive (for this album) opening sequence, but otherwise keeping the atmospheric business as usual.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Mick Harris feat: M.J. Harris / Bill Laswell 35:10 Amazon
2 Mick Harris feat: M.J. Harris / Bill Laswell 30:45 Amazon
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