Pale World and BLACKCLOUDSUMMONER - III (Outsider Art)

Pale World and BLACKCLOUDSUMMONER – III (Outsider Art)

Third albums are tricky. By this stage, the fanbase has a very good idea of what to expect. They have stuck around long enough that their participation is mostly in the bag. However, third albums can be as, if not more, important than a debut. The third Oasis album showed that the band were in a rut they wouldn’t leave until their final album. The Chemical Brothers delivered something that had enough of the first two albums to make it interesting but overall, it was their first misstep. The Horrors changed their sound again and delivered their strongest album to date, whilst never actually telling who they really were. The Ramones delivered the same album, and we were grateful for it. On the third collaboration between Pale World and BLACKCLOUDSUMMONER, III, we are given something else entirely.

The album opens with the sounds of squealing electronics. Under this a heavy drone is lurking. Quietly at first, but as the song progresses it gets louder. Then it is all consuming. The squealing electronics are still audible. The deep drone keeps becoming more and more pronounced. A quarter in, everything changes. A new sound appears. This one is louder. Heavier and more malevolent. As ‘Legitimising Eating Each Other’ carries on through its 16-minute duration you are drawn to the solid mass or writhing noise at its centre. Much like the Millennium Falcon was pulled towards the Death Star in ‘A New Hope.’ This is a glorious experience. Its so overpowering that you can’t help but focus on it. After a few listens you realise that a lot of interesting tones are happening all around it. You just have to retune your ear to hear them. A few minutes from the end, the savage sound drops off and we are left with all the audio detritus underneath it. Sinewy synths. Glitching electronics. These are the real MVPs (most valued power-electronics) of the track and it’s fitting that the outro is theirs.

The Diamond Body’ is a shorter, more condensed affair. Here we see the inclusion of field recordings. This grounds the song in the real world. The sounds of what appears to be children playing and bird calls are heavily manipulated but recognisable. We’ve all heard these sounds as a child playing or walking past a school on their breaktime. It’s comforting that with all that’s wrong in the world children are still having fun. The music isn’t as heavy. The collective hands of Pale World and BLACKCLOUDSUMMONER are lighter, and we are given room to breathe. That feeling of oppression isn’t as strong. Yes, there are times when all you can hear are dense bursts of noise and electronics, but it is never as overpowering as the opener. As the album progresses, feelings of claustrophobia increase, but the overarching feelings of paranoia aren’t as pronounced. Yes, ‘A Difficult Route to An Uncomfortable Place’ is a swirling ball of bewildering, and disconcerting, electronics and static, but it doesn’t have the level of intensity as the opener. The final track ‘The Downward Spiral’ is the most musical track on the album. A mournful piano is the centrepiece of the track. Around this static, noise and glitching electronics cackle and bubble away. There is something almost funereal about the piano motifs. They are deliberate. Sombre. Graceful, but manage to catch you at the back of the throat. Like all bad news does. Yet there are pangs of hope to them too. Whether this is hope that the pain will stop, or things will get better I can’t say. I don’t think Pale World or BLACKCLOUDSUMMONER know either. But I’m ok with that.

What III demonstrates is how far each artist, and the project as a whole, has come since the first album emerged in 2020. Each is a consummate perfectionist who gives their all. Whether it is creating something that sounds like the world is on fire or creating an elegant soundtrack to a personal crisis. Despite the music they create, these are artists whose voices cannot be ignored. They are as important as the creators of mainstream pop music and people with guitars writing about love, loss, and redemption.

One of the most enjoyable parts is trying to work out who did what. In my mind all the heavy brushstrokes are BLACKCLOUDSUMMONER, with Pale World willing in all the subtle detail. However, on closer listens I don’t think this is accurate. Both artists have released music that is tender and thoughtful as well as massive slabs of noise and confusion. I think the truth is far more ambiguous. I expect that neither really knows what they did, and added, to each track and I like that. III is a cohesive piece of music. Probably one of the strongest either artist has been associated with. It feels less like a collaboration and more of a unified ‘band’ project. Much like BLACKCLOUDSUMMONER’s Wet Mirror project with Territorial Gobbing. This is an album to listen to at your bleakest moments and wallow in its self-pity. Its great, as wallowing in self-pity, you can always rejoice in its nihilistic glee. However, if you listen to III on a good day you notice that it’s also filled with joy and aspirations. This is a very ambitious album, as all third albums should be. It delivers enough to keep the old guard happy, but also does things differently to keep us on our toes.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.