So since my first ever Swirls of Noise post where I reviewed the first two releases from The End of the World Championship, it’s rather fitting that the review of his upcoming new release Balance Beam will be my hundredth album review for the website. Balance Beam is the third full length album from one of my favourite drone artists Björn Granzow, aka The End of the World Championship. Having released two albums last year we’ve already seen how he produces some of the heaviest, most oppressive drone out there, with In Slow Motion being soul shatteringly intense, while For Dear Life was no less punishing than the debut, but a lot bleaker with more focus on soundscapes and subtle changes. The new release Balance Beam continues with the heavy minimalist synth drone adopted on the first two releases, but sees Björn push the sound forward once again.
Much like the first two releases, Balance Beam features two twenty minute pieces led by distorted mind numbingly heavy synth drones. But as mentioned it’s further continuation into that sound -where both previous ones were soul shatteringly oppressive, bleak and with barely a hint of brightness about it, the new release pushes into new territory and ends up being quite beautiful. The aforementioned heavy fuzz of those synth drones is once again prevalent, but that’s only the surface of a fantastically well layered release. Those oscillating harsh drones are just one fabric in a wall of noise that’s balanced out by some beautiful organ drones, which create a cathartic sense of brightness and beauty that was missing from the destructive nature of the first two releases. The slowly evolving droning synth melodies are out of this world, and the oscillating distorted drones shift in tone ever so subtly and create a small sense of psychedelia which matches the beautiful yet sparse sound to take the listener on a journey through space, and it’s a trip as lovely as that album art. Every so often the pulsing of those harsh static drones hits a crescendo, becoming more intense and gripping and then oscillates back into a stark bleakness. It’s as heavy and dense as a black hole, but beautiful in equal measure, giving the album the balance that it’s name promises. The huge sound once again reverberates around your whole skull with that intense fuzz and grabs you into it’s core, sends you on a trip, and doesn’t let you out until it’s all over. An incredible drone album that takes you on a spacey journey while balancing out harsh static distortion and soft ambience in equal measure.
Ultimately Balance Beam is a beautifully evolving album for close listening with closed eyes, and it’s a spacey, sparse, bleak journey that’s as brilliant as that album art. The End of the World Championship is one of the best drone artists in the scene right now, and any drone fans should explore all three of his great releases.
Listen to an excerpt from Balance Beam I below.
Balance Beam will be released on September 23rd on Sacred Phrases.