Tunnels of Āh - Lost CorridorsLast time I heard Stephen Burroughs, the former Head of David vocalist, was on an a Blast First tribute to Alan Vega (a series of 10-inches which featured amongst many others Lydia Lunch, Primal Scream, Pan Sonic, Bruce Springsteen, The Horrors), with a downbeat acoustic cover of a Vega solo track 'Goodbye Darling'. As other former Head of David members such as Justin Broadrick and Dave Cochrane went onto other things Burroughs just disappeared. Head of David reformed in 2009 for a performance at Supersonic with the intention of recording new material which to date has never surfaced. Lost Corridors represents the first full release from Stephen Āh Burroughs as he is now known since Head of David split and it's an altogether different beast, and those familiar with the guitar onslaught of Head of David may well be thrown by his latest project.
Seemingly influenced by Buddhism and Gnosticism, the rare live performances of Tunnels of Āh have seen Burroughs on stage beneath an inverted psychic type cross as he unleashes his "industrial esoterica", combining dense drones, frugal ritual percussive rattle with the occasional snatch of heavyset vocals. I'm pretty sure some of, if not all of, Lost Corridors surfaced on Soundcloud before Cold Spring picked up on it and gave it a proper release on CD. And thank fuck they did come across it, as Lost Corridors is something of a find.
Much of Lost Corridors sounds like a twisted marriage between Lustmord and Z'ev. The opener 'From A Cracked Hive (Black Insect Laughter)' unfurls to layers of deep cavernous moaning and reams of shimmering metallic effects. When Burroughs' pensive tones break through his words are obscured by the increasingly buzzing and shredded roar.
With its dark droning sound you could almost imagine the individual tracks playing together as one expansive esoteric soundscape. Lost Corridors is however punctuated by Burroughs' deep pensive voice, with lyrics often constructed as mantras. In hushed tones Burroughs reads excerpts from The Holy Gnostic Rosary over the moaning drones and cyclical strings on 'A Net Of Woven Starlight'. With drones and cyclical strings similar to the previous 'A Net Of Woven Starlight' the sound doesn't progress too far on the following 'Nightfall At The Mount Of Husks' but here Burroughs voice when it does surface is accompanied by a muffled trace of a ghostly choir.
While much of Lost Corridors settles into an invigorating drone based shimmer there are harsher moments such as 'The Nightjar Sang A Kalpa Blaze' where ringing and shimmering drones and clipped percussive rattles hurtle towards a noise ridden oblivion. 'Shattering The Black Crone' is perhaps the most central track to Lost Corridors; it along with the closer 'Crush The Heads Of Scorpions' involve other elements of sound absent from the rest of Lost Corridors. Before that though, there is 'Harvest Flame The Christ Force' where from faint atmospherics and ricocheting ritual percussion Burroughs utters the title almost mantra like fashion, amidst careering notes and ambient wash. While 'Harvest Flame The Christ Force' is relatively subdued, 'Shattering The Black Crone' is a ferocious blend of staggered and treated electronics. A turbulent drone riddled with eastern drone elements where Burroughs' intonations are almost confined solely to the repeating of the title as a brief looped mantra, make this Tunnels of Āh's most aggressive and immediate track on Lost Corridors.
Lost Corridors returns to cyclical chiming on the closing 'Crush The Heads Of Scorpions' with an almost archaic ritual feel as airy percussive hiss passes between headphone channels, as wailing siren like sound accompanied by hand percussion surround Burroughs as he recites the title.
Anyone expecting something along the lines of Head of David will be sorely disappointed but Lost Corridors is a worthy debut. Its fascination with esoterica might not appeal to everyone but hardened occultic listeners will revel in its shimmering droning soundscapes as part of Burroughs' spiritual explorations. For more information go to www.coldspring.co.uk