Cremation Lily, “Dreams Drenched in Static”
By Louis Pattison · April 18, 2022 Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP, Cassette, T-Shirt/Shirt

Zen Zsigo has been recording music as Cremation Lily for a little over a decade now, but listen to Dreams Drenched In Static in the broader context of his back catalog, and it’s clear he’s still in the process of shaping and refining the project’s vision. Early Cremation Lily releases—many of which saw the light through Zsigo’s cassette label Strange Rules—explored a particularly vulnerable and anguished take on noise and power electronics. Noise remains a component of the Cremation Lily sound, but more recently it’s been joined by new inputs: the warm currents of ambient music, the textural investigations of field recording and—perhaps most surprisingly—the romantic introspection of emotional hardcore.

On paper, these genres are strange bedfellows, but Dreams Drenched In Static—Zsigo’s first release for San Francisco avant-metal label The Flenser—hangs together as well as it does because fundamentally, Cremation Lily is an act of intensely personal expression. Throughout his recording career, Zsigo has sprinkled his work with allusions to traumas past and present: an unhappy childhood characterized by neglect and abuse, and a near-death experience in the sea near his home along the South Coast of England. Cremation Lily’s music often seems to be concerned with healing. But it makes sense that it often sounds violent, purgative.

The music here can be pretty, can be harsh, and can often be both at the same time. Take “Wavering Blood,” on which Zsigo’s crooned vocal is all but obliterated by crashing waves of shoegaze guitar, the insistent tick of trap percussion, and an occasional blowtorch blast of distortion. But Dreams Drenched In Static has the quality of sonic collage; it ebbs and flows, makes unexpected leaps and takes unexpected turns. Songs erupt out of pools of ambience; spoken word segments are slowed to a crawl, as if played through a Walkman with fading batteries. On “Overflowing Velvet,” cello and acoustic guitar join together in a mournfully beautiful melody before slowly receding before a harsh wall of feedback.

Dreams Drenched In Static isn’t entirely without outside reference points. The album’s more realized songs—“Selfless,” “I Need To Stop Blaming Myself”—feel of a piece with the emo/cloud rap fusions of one of Zsigo’s sometime collaborators, Wicca Phase Springs Eternal. Its blend of poetic introspection and harsh noise brings to mind an album like Prurient’s Bermuda Drain. But primarily, Dreams Drenched In Static succeeds because it feels like a work of unflinching honesty; its collision of genres, its fractured songs, an attempt at working through a tangle of thoughts and feelings that are almost too heavy to shoulder.

Read more in Metal →

Top Stories

Latest see all stories

On Bandcamp Radio see all

Listen to the latest episode of Bandcamp Radio. Listen now →