Author & Punisher - Ursus Americanus
Seventh Rule Recordings
DIY Drone/Industrial Doom
7 songs (41:20)
Release year: 2012
Seventh Rule Recordings
Reviewed by Koeppe
Album of the month

Boy, this album is a bear to tackle and get a hold of. That was the single bear joke I have to contribute, I apologize. But seriously how does one begin to describe music that isn’t created by musical instruments? Well, they’re not exactly instruments as we know them, despite being fabricated with the intention of creating a very heavy, ominous metal sound. Tristan Shone, the mastermind behind this one man band, is a mild-mannered mechanical engineer, who in his free time designs what he calls ‘dub machines’. A dub machine is basically something he designs, creates and tests himself in order to create the most crushing of metal music that is able to synthesize the sounds of drone, noise, doom, industrial, electronic, and sludge into an oppressive wall of sound that leaves you wanting more. What you have in Author & Punisher is really awesome music, but ultimately something more: an aesthetic. Having listened to the aforementioned genres of music for years, most of the sounds that Shone is able to create could be done through computers, but instead what A&P creates is a sound that is attached to the body, that arises through him being able to physically juggle all of these machines into making his frenzied compositions.

It might be easiest to describe the music after giving a rundown of the equipment Shone has at his fingertips. The microphone he works with his actually eight microphones in a sort of curved rectangular apparatus that operates similar to a harmonica insofar as each point in the rectangle creates a unique sound. The device gives the appearance of the man having this monstrous, mechanical grimace on his face. The mics are close enough together, while being directed enough to not contaminate each other’s input, that all it takes is a twitch to jump to a different mic. A sorta keyboard-like device Shone calls the Rack & Pinion, which is two level of rails with a few keys on each set of bars that can slide back and forth allowing the velocity to control the sound created, enables Shone to create and warp the diving pitches as showcased in the track, Mercy Dub. And what seems to be the heart of the sound in many ways is the rhythm controller that creates the drum triggers as Shone slides a handle back and forth. The drum sound literally come from him swinging his fist forward as if punching and pulling his arm back as if he was cocking back to make that swing. Adjustments in the sound of the snare and bass can be made through a set of buttons on the handle and the gait required for the swing can be adjusted by a handwheel depending on how much force the user can devote to sliding the handle. More details for more instruments with all of the technicalities can be found here.

The production on this album stands out to the degree that the bass is absolutely crushing. With a bit of volume behind it, the soundscape created absolutely consumes you. The distinct sound of the snare and bass are never lost as they are caught up in the whirring, buzzing drone. The physical element to the music’s creation is mirrored in how the sounds can exert such a force on your body. At times, the industrial elements literally sound industrial. Throughout the album, the rhythm takes on this very mechanical and deliberate factory-like sound where Shone is just pounding on the rail, mirroring the battering of a hammer on metal. This industrial vibe is most present throughout the track, Lonely, which provides an interesting combination with the word ‘lonely’ despairingly being echoed throughout the track while the inhumane machinations of the music continue to press on. The human element to such a sound is never lost throughout the album; Shone’s anguished screams pierce through the seemingly impenetrable heavy, fuzzy droning. Simply, the amount of sounds that one man is able to create while operating each machine, not even considering how he must balance and orchestrate it into creating music, is mind boggling. This album demonstrates this as the first half presents you with droning doom like no one else is currently making, while the second half showcases all of the sounds that the dub machines can create beyond the limits set by traditional musical instruments.

Beyond simply how much I am impressed by Shone’s ingenuity, moreso than A&P’s 2011 LP, Drone Machines, this album presents a much more concise, coherent and unified thread that the music rides. The uniqueness of this band has truly progressed since Shone’s live shows consisted of a self-designed speaker, a laptop and a guitar, but that’s the intriguing element to the band. The music can really go anywhere as long as he is able to design and play it. I would fear that what is so captivating in the sound, that he is operating all these controllers at the same time and not monadicly dividing the sounds and compiling them together in the studio, will one day be lost if he overcomplicates the sound. What is provided on this album is a very precise and honed sound that represents his creativity and virtuosity in such a way that the album is a pleasant surprise in genres that can be somewhat monotonous. Shone truly embraces doom metal and tries to take the intensity he brings to an inspirational and all-consuming level.

The album can be heard in its entirety and purchase here.

Killing Songs :
Terrorbird, Lonely
Koeppe quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Author & Punisher that we have reviewed:
Author & Punisher - Melk en Honning reviewed by Andy and quoted 90 / 100
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