Takiaya Reed and Sylvie Nehill don’t mince words. In fact, they don’t use words at all. Their preferred mode of expression, drone metal, doesn’t exactly lend itself to articulate statements unless that statement can be formed out of waves of undulating feedback. Still, one thing comes across loud and clear: they ain’t happy. Like all the best protest music through the years, you don’t need to know exactly what they’re railing against (though their stated targets are worthy ones, like colonialism, white supremacy, and genocide) to know that they mean what they say.
It’s ugly music about ugly subjects—for a beautiful purpose. As Divide and Dissolve, Reed and Nehill transform their righteous anger into an amplifier-wrecking primal scream of droning guitar and feedback through their unique alchemy of neo-classical composition and heavy doom. Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Ruban Neilson may seem an unlikely collaborator, but his production gives the cacophony the signal boost it needs to really strike home—the wall of fuzz feels much more robust compared to 2018’s Abomination. The punched-up sound really allows the listener to appreciate the relative nuances of songs like “Denial” and “It’s Really Complicated.” The variance in tempo and even the way they wrangle the noise into different shapes (most of them pointed) helps direct the instrumental narrative the duo weaves. And even when there are words spoken, as on “Did You Have Something To Do With It,” it’s a straight-up reading of poem by Minori Sanchiz-Fung with an almost ambient backing. Whether it’s the words or the music, Divide and Dissolve want the focus to remain on the message. They deliver it loud and clear.