Sword Volcano Complex, the – Phosphorescent

“Phosphorescent” is certainly not a very conventional album. The first track, ‘Honeybees arrive’, has a bittersweet romantic orchestral background, on top of which you hear the low spoken vocals of Karl Blake. It is followed by a more experimental composition, consisting of nothing but vague sounds, from bells to water and strange rumblings. Midway soft piano sounds emerge, and another spoken word element, this time by John Murphy. The Sword Volcano Complex is the project of Bruce LaFountain, aided by the omnipresent John Murphy, and assisted by quite a few people, like the aforementioned Blake.

“Phosphorescent” is an intrigueing release, one that needs time to grow, since it is not melodic or song-based at all. The nice atmospheric keyboard lines of Bruce LaFontaine create the foundation for most songs.There are many experimental soundscapes, dominated by original samples, but also more drone-based ambient tracks, like the excellent title track. On top of that many songs feature the mysterious spoken words of various persons. It is a pity that lyrics are not included with the album.

As the album progresses the sound gets less experimental and calm. ‘Spingodspin’ for example has a powerful monotonous dance beat, while ‘Bedtime Stories’ starts with more exotic sounding percussion. ‘Hypnotized’, a live track, fuses a electronic beat with screaming rock guitars from Karl Blake. ‘Under the paw’ is driven by nice tribal percussion, reminding me a little of the last Knifeladder album. All in all “Phosphorescent” certainly is an interesting and unusual release. I must admit though that I am exhausted after listening for 65 minutes, the album has more ideas and sounds than I am able to process…

artist: Sword Volcano Complex, the
label: Triumvirate
details: 16 tracks