I loved JayVe Montgomery’s collaboration with Nick Turner that came out earlier this year on Astral Editions, so I felt pretty confident going into The Top Outgrowing the Bottom that it would connect. Add in a description like “Drone music for contemplating the continued apocalypse,” and I’m all in. Montgomery cultivates a pensive atmosphere. The Top Outgrowing the Bottom is perched on the edge of the abyss and anything more than a gentle breeze will spell the end.
Montgomery knows how to melt sounds together. Opener “The Bottom Feeds the Top” builds through molasses waves, edging closer to the chasm. A metallic glint echoes off walls that are closing in, the space becoming claustrophobic as the aural layers expand. High pitched drones slither beneath the shimmering black surface, cracking glass panes and leaving the shards to dangle like a lightning-struck branch ready to give up and fall. Montgomery keeps building, adding an air of drama and anxiety that I feel completely washed under by the force of the sonic waves. It’s enthralling.
“The Top Has Too Much to Eat” is quieter and more desolate. Hollow percussive patterns repeat, tapping out desperate messages with a hypnotic flair. It’s all-encompassing as though someone is trying desperately to send messages from another time, a warning that the path we’re on wild destroy us. “The Top Has Too Much to Eat” exists in that headspace as tonal fragments whirr in the graying sky.
There’s not much light to be found on The Top Outgrowing the Bottom, but the intensity is its own kind of catharsis. Giving in to the despair and admitting it’s not going to be okay takes some of the weight off. “It Never Trickles Down” boils in dissonance. Electric chimes mark the points on a map that leads to the place where we jump. Solid electronics combine with the understated woodwind vibrations blotting out the sun. Once the roots have rotted away, we might as well swan dive into nothing.
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