Divide and Dissolve – ‘Gas Lit’ review: earth-splintering tracks fusing heavy doom and drone metal

The Melbourne duo's third album – produced by Unknown Mortal Orchestra's Ruban Nielson – is an astonishing feat

Listening to the opening minutes of Divide and Dissolve’s third full-length album ‘Gas Lit’ is like entering a concert hall where the orchestra has gone home, but the spectral sounds of their instruments being tuned still lingers around an empty chamber. Strange noises feel like they could have existed for centuries, waiting for a pair of ears to stumble upon them.

Melbourne-based two-piece Divide and Dissolve – comprising of Takiaya Reed (saxophone, guitar, live effects) and Sylvie Nehill (drums, live effects) – have composed a remarkable listen across eight hair-raising, earth-splintering tracks of heavy doom, drone metal and desolate jazz, produced with Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Ruban Nielson. Whilst honouring their respective Cherokee and Māori ancestries, ‘Gas Lit’ pines for a social utopia where white supremacy and colonisation in all of its guises has been fully dismantled.

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The duo’s road to utopia isn’t untroubled, mind. From the devastating opening saxophone shrieks flecked across the cinematic drones of ‘Oblique’ like paint, to the same refrain sparsely patterned across ‘Denial’, Divide and Dissolve at their most pared back are brutally visceral. There’s an unnerving magic and beauty that plays throughout their harsh noise, like a dense mist lifting off a still river. On ‘Amorphous’, pummelling drones curl into a cathedral of sound, and by the album’s ending, these same sounds are stretched out to incongruity, clawing to be let back in.

The only voice on the record enters abruptly in ‘Did You Have Something to Do with It’: “The legacy of greed has grown from its seed to infiltrate every place, every face.” It’s a startling awake from the aural trance the duo conducts with their sludge sermon. White supremacy grew, the voice says, “first by attacking the body, and then by distorting the mind,” and Divide and Dissolve are taking a similar sonic strategy to undo it. Unrelenting heavy vibrations wash with the strength to pull you under and taste the silt. Complacency is not an option.

The album’s heavier moments steamroll, too: ‘Prove It’ funnels into a slow and enveloping mass, whilst the shortest track on the record, ‘Far From Ideal’, feels endless with infectious terror and viscous riffs. That instrumental music can carry their social plight so unmistakably is astonishing. Through glowing stasis and solemn ceremony, Divide and Dissolve’s sonics of despair and destruction have been crafted into a remarkably life-affirming experience, and it’s never been more needed.

Details

  • Release date: January 29
  • Record label: Invada
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