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Una Shamaa & Oblivion Guest - The Emptiness That Filled The Universe

The Emptiness That Filled The Universe is a performance designed soundtrack for the movements of dancer Una Shamaa. It is the third album following The Light in the Dark Hole and the digitally released Narben / Scars. The event for The Emptiness That Filled The Universe was unfortunately and unsurprisingly cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic but that didn't stop Una Shamaa & Oblivion Guest who created a number of videos available exclusively from their Patreon page, as a way of bringing performance to their audience via videos in the absence of these live events.

The Emptiness That Filled The Universe is concerned with what happened before the big bang and the concept of "nothing". It's undoubtedly a spacey recording with a sound that incorporates elements of space ambient, dark synth, synth pop and even soundtrack work that recalls John Carpenter and Tangerine Dream but the concept stretches into a wider interpretation of emptiness, as they explore the void and its creation.

The tone is set from the opening 'Zero Day' which glides from ambient synths and quickened clicks, gracefully building with pulsing analogue sequences into something quite pensive. 'Ones and Zeroes', which follows, flickers to sequences riddled with thrusting cuts and curt rhythmic beats, combined with a melodic edge creating a tension not unlike something John Carpenter would do if he scored a sci-fi film. Words are deployed softly and hypnotically as it dips into ambient droning on 'Mirrors and Splinters' lulling you into emptiness. It's an emptiness reflecting the vast expanse of the void, as the atmospheric soaked sound churns and swirls into the desolate 'The Fire and The Darkness' where soft piano notes reverberate over shimmering synths, the rhythm reduced to a series of clicks as piano notes repeat oozing into the infinite blackness. The effervescent 'Thymine Carrier' fizzes to a series of bleats and bleeps, generates a sense of creation as if something is being formed. That sense of creation continues onto 'The Flow of Traces from (Non) Existence' which with low ripping buzz distortion, rhythmic crash and slow, electronic shudders appears to represent an attempt to expand and break through.

And if it does break through it is best represented with the trilogy of song based pieces beginning with the pulsating electro pop of 'One Million Tiny Pieces' and ending on the harder edged mannerisms of 'Tomorrow Has a Flaw'.

"I keep breaking myself into one million tiny pieces..." sings Hunter Barr, about the cycles of creation on the former, over pumping sequences and shuffling distorted beats, while the latter bursts from rattling industrialised percussive rhythm and slow buzzing electronics into forceful synths with hard hitting industrialised beats, as Hunter Barr in aggressive rasps screams "tomorrow has a flaw, and it's a great big fucking hole". This is Oblivion Guest flexing their industrial roots. Hunter Barr, was of course, part of KnifeLadder and still records as Antivalium with Andrew Trail. I don't, however, remember the previous album The Light in the Dark Hole, featuring song based material but these are pretty effective and well executed.

They're separated by 'Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?' which is much more abstract and experimental with disembodied piano chords, desolate pummels and rippling electronic textures as the frosted voice questions God for repeated creations that he's already seen and reverberating in intonations that, are more human based than scientific: "It's the beating of our hearts that's the beating of our soul".

Returning to a more soundtrack style 'Creation ex Nihilo' pits twisted distorted textures and sparse pummels against spacey electronic sequences, while 'Noise Bending Light' is much more atmospheric and abstract; its deep shifting layers of drone scattered with the clink and clatter of rhythmic detritus. It's as if whatever is created wont be easy but littered with moments of trouble and strife to overcome. Mournful synths mesh with fluttering clipped beats coalescing with strident sequences on 'The Master of Serpents' as the rhythms become propulsive and cyclical, edged on by creeping synth work. It's all fused with a German electronic sound which also makes its way onto the title track. On this final piece, electronic sequences glide beneath synths soaked in atmospherics riddled with sparse rhythmic clicks.

The Emptiness That Filled The Universe encompasses space ambient and sci-fi in a soundtrack style along with abstract dark synth work and hard edge synth-pop. The Emptiness That Filled The Universe is more than just a performance piece; it's a great standalone recording but twinned with videos featuring the expressive and improvised movements of Una Shamaa might just push it up another level. Interested readers can show their support by subscribing to their patreon page offering tiered access to releases along with exclusive videos and audio material. The Emptiness That Filled The Universe is available digitally and as an extremely limited CD from the Oblivion Guest bandcamp page.