Followed By a Wraith
Amethyst Sunset

For those who have been following the myriad of releases from Amethyst Sunset, you are already aware of the noise scene’s Teutonic shift out of the caves, warehouses and art spaces and into the cosmos of psychedelia and even damaged loner folk. The label’s latest record comes from the depths of Columbus and the minds of Mark Van Fleet (half of the duo Sword Heaven) and his life-long confidant, Nathan Reynolds (who also plays in American Jobs).

Providien’s Followed By a Wraith shouldn’t be that much of a stretch for listeners used to Sword Heaven’s infernally primeval racket. The record does come with instructions “for private listening exclusively,” and from the outset, it’s apparent that Providien is not for the faint of heart. Even those used to noise and drone of this varietal may have trouble digging in, as there’s actually structure hiding underneath and actual songs being thrown into a well of despair—not typical of your average noise record. Followed By a Wraith isn’t your average noise record, starting with the confusion as to which speed this record should be played. I’ve come to discover that either pace will work, but 33⅓ is the norm, and as such, the album’s lead, “Red Man’s Vietnam” comes forth like the bellow from an ogre’s den.

Using a junk box including “radio, cassettes, and metals,” Van Fleet and Reynolds thrash in typically chaotic fashion. Tracks like “Group Birth” and “Samonella Bunker Blues,” are completely blown out, heavy electronic romps, with machines using up the last shot of adrenaline to lurch towards an uncomfortable demise. Those huge swaths of industrial clang and organ drone do well to counter the true underbelly of Followed By a Wraith. That side sometimes mirrors the downer sludge punk of Jim Shepard’s V-3 or, on “No Other,” the repetitious biker blues of Raven and Circuit Rider played in reverse, filling up the room with a choking exhaust, the fumes overpowering the improvised choogle. But as previously stated, Providien makes slow-motion shifts towards this new arena, usually obscuring these decrepit loner laments with a frightening amount of texture, be it feedback squall, distressed morse code or corrosives melting steel. However, when the curtain is drawn, as it is on “Next One,” Providien reveals a singular moaning voice and an out-of-tune acoustic guitar plucking out Jandekian minimalism to soul-bearing effect. Perhaps the greatest clue on Followed By a Wraith comes in the finale, “Keep Something,” where the duo cleans the slate and starts resembling the deep psych of Kraut pioneers like Ash Ra Tempel and Agitation Free (or to us a more current reference, like the mammoth awakening of Emeralds). If one were to take the title literally, the wraith following these two around is pointing them in the direction of a new frontier, a plane where noise and psych and organic wallowing can co-exist, a world both beautiful and disturbing.
Kevin J. Elliott