A dark cloud beckons in the opening moments of Snake Union’s latest slab, To Whom I’ve Never Met and Only Imagined. Constructed from recordings initially made in 2019 at EMS in Stockholm, the granular details living within these walls of synthesis come in waves, like electricity storming through winding corridors underground. The duo of Chuck Bettis and David Grant has a focus throughout To Whom I’ve Never Met and Only Imagined that cuts a razor-sharp line through the gloom, opening new realms of sonic possibility.
Twisted within the torrent of electronic detritus is a keen sense of forward progression. There’s a cohesion to these pieces held together by surprise and at times disparate, rhythmic propulsion. Whether it’s buried deep, like on the metallic howls of “Microfauna,” or alive in the spotlight of the minimal dubs of “Nighttime Guru,” it’s the glue. On the former, dense drones rise and flow as they search the landscape for hidden crevices. Arpeggiated shards reflect in the prismatic glow of a world on fire, the dichotomy of beauty and decay littering every stop toward the horizon.
Spoken word elements throughout To Whom I’ve Never Met and Only Imagined leave a heavy mark, especially the guest spot from Rachelle Rahme on “The Fine Grain of Conviction.” Aural globules undulate across the midnight sky, bass tones rippling a glassine surface. Rahme’s voice drips with venom. “Just what is your role at the asylum? To make me laugh,” her words sting as they slither across the electronic debris. Everything builds into a mesmerizing horrorshow, a sonic labyrinth that never ends.
To Whom I’ve Never Met and Only Imagined is a wild, invigorating trip. Bettis and Grant juggle a vast array of elements, to build a futurist fantasma that’s ready for the fall. Apocalyptic dancefloors offer a respite from the dread in the 4/4 muted blasts of “Hair by Hair.” Featuring scalding viola playing from Jessica Pavone, the pieces ascend into a rapid-fire bounce into the depths of interstellar space. It’s like being shot into nothingness and in that void finding freedom. Snake Union harnesses that feeling throughout To Whom I’ve Never Met and Only Imagined, standing at the edge of emptiness and coming alive. This is one hell of an album.