Review: Black Walls – Communion

People deal with death in so many different ways and although there have been many examples of musicians making the best use of their talents as a form of emotional release, it’s hard to imagine just how difficult it must be to put pen to paper or finger to key and create a piece of music which not only provides catharsis for the creator but also develops a listening experience that can be appreciated by a complete stranger. The latest album by Black Walls, the solo work of Canadian Ken Reaume,  is a prime example of such an experience. Reaume recorded ‘Communion’ from his bedroom at night, aided and abetted by his solitude and memories of a deeply religious upbringing.

Black Walls Album Cover

Throughout the record, certain aspects are presented just like one would expect. So the pace of the album is unsurprisingly funereal and the mood is largely bleak. The music itself features drone and those impressions of black walls are immediately brought to life in vivid detail thanks to Reaume’s usage of reverb and dark effects. Words are kept to a minimum with Reaume repeating the line “fall asleep for years” on the opening title track; his own soft vocals acting as a calm, almost soothing balm against the inescapable and understandably elegiac arrangements. At the centre is ‘PTSD’, where the only human voices are sequences of ghostly moans as the speakers throb under the sheer weight of the doomy textures. ‘Funeral/Wake’ is another instrumental production and possibly the most elegant and beautiful moment on the record; its twelve minutes of modern classical majesty swelling and subsiding in a powerful but never overpowering manner.

Yet put all these bleak layers together and the sum effect isn’t one of depression. ‘Communion’ could have been tortuous but Reaume fills these pieces with space and there’s an uplifting feeling generated by the outpouring of emotions and melancholic grace showing that there is a chink of light at the end of all the suffering.  The subject matter is afforded dignity and respect, with the largely wordless approach being more fitting and appropriate than any generic hymn which comes to mind. It is a privilege to hear ‘Communion’.

Web Sites:
Black Walls – Communion Full Album Stream

Further Listening:
Yellow6, Caught In The Wake Forever

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