What You Don't Know is Frontier

Southern Records 2008

Long Beach seems ever so much bleaker and forlorn to me knowing that denizens of that California residence are responsible for this stark, spiritual, and dreary tome.  ASVA features members of Burning Witch, Mr. Bungle and Earth.  Each song is a world unto itself with a unifying theme yet a different perspective on the same inner emotions.  The title track is titanic and brooding with barren and cumbersome riffs troubled by frayed edges and the occasional upward staring conglomeration of notes.  The western sounding guitar work at the 9:30 mark resembles in some ways Earth at their most stripped down form.  At 13 minutes Christopher Columbus is the shortest of the four tracks on the album.  Strange simmering cymbals and warbling basslines (ever decreasing in volume) mated with feedback (ever increasing in volume) serve as the initial transmissions from this song before lethargic, pounding drums lurch forward as if from a deep slumber. The drums continue to build momentum accompanied by electronic noises until they cycle back in upon themselves.  Sinister arching guitar notes call out like the organic equivalent of Neptune Towers.  My favorite track of the album is A Game In Hell, Hard Work In Heaven.  Its light and breezy guitar notes and eastern female vocals lift this song up on a divine pedestal as both meditative and liberating.  The song though heavy with internal exploration also frees the shackles from our shoulders.  It bursts free in towards its climax with a faster pace and dissonant notes.  A Trap for Judges falls back into the depths of despair.  Pounding chords and ambling basslines usher in phantom strong swimming and guitar induced thunder strikes.  Disturbing organ music finishes out this 23 minute epic piece.  If free ranging doom drone captivates you like it does me then you will find What You Don't Know is Frontier to be a communion of sorts with the artists and their Cyclopean soundscapes.  Devoid of earthly connection and revolving in a cosmic otherworldliness ASVA crushes with a weight of loss and a subsequent spiritual quest.  Its destination is for each listener to decide.