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YEN POX - Between the Horizon and the Abyss

Format: CD
Label & Cat.Number: Malignant Records TUMOR CD85
Release Year: 2015
Note: the glorious new opus by this outstanding transcendental / cosmic dark ambient / ritual duo from the USA, many years in the making => trance inducing sinister drones of a higher beauty, with enough variation between the tracks and great spatial quality... music for your deepest mind! .... "with the full force of a black hole, slowing down time and stretching it infinitely over an unimaginably monstrous mass, ripping metallic atoms apart with the pulsing black heart of the cosmos" [Heathen Harvest]
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"Arriving on the scene in 1993 with their self-titled demo, Yen Pox immediately made their presence known with an ability to create monumental, light devouring soundscapes that transcended all that had come before it. Proceeding releases, including their debut CD, Blood Music, 2000s New Dark Age, and the collaborative CD with Troum only solidified their standing and reputation. With Between the Horizon and the Abyss just being their first full length recording in over 15 years, Yen Pox will never be accused of being prolific. After all, with the two members spread out between Indiana and Washington State, creating new material doesn't exactly lend itself to convenience. But on the rare occasion that recordings do arise, its nothing short of masterful, reminding listeners why theyve achieved such notoriety with such a limited discography, and why their recordings are consistently recognized as benchmarks within the dark ambient genre.
Time between releases has been well spent, with the new material taking the early template and expounding upon it greatly, adding layers of industrial churn and structure to the infernal kosmische sprawl theyre so adept at creating. And yet throughout its entirety, Between the Horizon and the Abyss is remarkably polished and fluid. Within its realm, no seconds feel wasted, and every sound feels purposefully placed, even as it moves and flows in perpetual motion; strains of a distant angelic choirs fall beneath a complex array of arcing tones, liquidous, molten textures, & harrowing orchestral shimmer, with fervent masses of malevolent atmospherics billowing forth in glorious detail.
While this technically falls under the banner of dark ambient, what Yen Pox has managed to create goes far beyond genre specifications and boundaries, crafting a new benchmark and adding a high water mark to an already stellar discography." [label info]


"The year is 1995 and an extremely young label from Maryland has just begun to open its eyes to the world. Prior to this moment, its entire three-year existence had been dedicated to a zine/compilation combination known as Audio Drudge, with a more official birth coming with a compilation of a different kind in 1994 that featured noise/industrial artists that ran the gamut from celebrated veterans in Illusion of Safety, Maeror Tri, and Contrastate, to what was at the time excruciatingly obscure in Sldnergeist, Vromb, and Kirchenkampf. It was an artist from the latter side of this list that was destined to give rise to one of the most important labels that post-industrial music has seen to this daya label that, in the absence of Cold Meat Industry, has rightly taken its place at the helm as the leading name releasing the new generation of old-school industrial and dark ambient music today. That label is of course Malignant Records. And the artist? Yen Pox, the duo of Steven Hall and Michael J.V. Hensley, who tomorrow (May 5th) will be making their return after a full decade and a half of silence, save for a notable collaboration with another seminal dark ambient duo in Troum, Mnemonic Induction, and a little-known two-track 10″ on Drone Records, Universal Emptiness. This also requires one to overlook their respective solo projects in Veil of Secrecy and Blood Box, both of which have also been agonizingly slow to realize new music over the years.

Yes, this is the project that began the maelstrom of high-quality releases that would make Malignant the monolith of the genre that it has become today, and that in itself should leave expectations at an absurdly high level for any curious ear. For the uninitiated, the projects name should be enough of a hint to bring about hallucinatory visions of slow-rolling drones and desperate metallic chatter. Yen Pox was famously written by William S. Burroughs in Naked Lunch as being the ash of smoked opium, which should immediately lead one towards assumptions of the surreal brilliance held therein. Indeed, The Awakening arrives with a bass-end rumble that moves with enough sluggish grandeur, complex drones, and vastly cinematic space that it warrants comparisons to some of the finest names in the genre including deep audio extraordinaire Bad Sector and the aforementioned Troum. It is with this impressive track that Between the Horizon and the Abyss opens with the full force of a black hole, slowing down time and stretching it infinitely over an unimaginably monstrous mass, ripping metallic atoms apart with the pulsing black heart of the cosmos. Even Tomorrow in Ruins somehow leaves a similar astral impression as that of Ben Frosts incredible recent work with A U R O R A.

There is a ritual edge present on some tracks as well, from the percussive clamoring and distant feedback howling of Cold Summer Sun, to the distant whispers and unnerving climaxing noise of Grief Ritual. However, this is only a minimal part of Yen Poxs identity, as everything about Between the Horizon and the Abyss feels about as purely nihilistic as anything Ive heard in recent years. The apocalyptic atmosphere present on the album is almost overwhelming at times, imparting an unforgiving amount of dread upon the listener as they float not through dreamy ethereal dimensions, but rather through the smokey black veils of what lies at the end of our journey. The intense album artwork and concise yet visionary track titles certainly dont help one get an opposite impression though the radiant golds are an interesting and effective choice for such an atmosphere, but the music stands on its own as one of the most defining albums for dark ambient music of the past decade. Truly, at least to some degree, it sets a bar that leaves other modern releases from the genre sounding dry at best.

Between the Horizon and the Abyss is one of the few releases of the past few years that has simply come as advertised. It is a triumph of the genre and is destined to be a celebrated gem. One can only imagine that it is the lack of quantity that has provided such astounding quality on Between the Horizon and the Abyss, but with this reminder that there are still new levels to achieve, we can only hope that it isnt another 15 years of near-dormancy before another full-length surfaces." [S.L.Weatherford / Heathen Harvest]

"A colossal record like this doesn't get made in a day, or even a year for that matter. It's actually been 15 years since Yen Pox has produced a new album. There was an excellent collaborative project the American industrial-ambient technicians did with the German pioneers Troum; and M.V. Hensley from Yen Pox has released a handful of albums under his moniker Blood Box. But, the last proper Yen Pox album, New Dark Age, arrived in the cold months of 2000. Not quite as slow in production as Giancarlo Toniutti, who took well over 20 years to issue a new solo album. But like Toniutti's immaculately conceived electro-acoustic wastelands, the records of Yen Pox are the stuff of epochal change, slowly revealing themselves through the dark veil between this world and another, or as the title implies between the horizon and the abyss. The scope of this work is suitably grandiose, following the template for the entire dark ambient genre that Yen Pox helped sculpt so many years ago alongside the likeminded projects Lustmord and Inade. The horror-laden drones that Yen Pox conceives are hardly static, as they spiral as if thrown from stable orbit by the all-consuming gravity of a black hole. The deep female vocal utterances are courtesy of the gothic siren Ruby Smith (aka Dark Muse) whose bellows and moans sporadically break through the dense clouds of Yen Pox' subterranean echo and reverb as the only ghosts of humanity to be found within this album. Bleak and heavy, to say the least." [Aquarius Records]