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"Jon Borges began recording as Pedestrian Deposit in 2003 at 16. Since then, he has toured relentlessly, started his own label, and released an astonishing torrent of limited-edition releases though nearly every cool underground label around. From the very beginning, Borges has set himself apart from his peers with his surgical exactitude and purposefulness, but his aesthetic has slowly shifted over the years. Austere continues his evolution away from the unrelenting harshness of his early releases towards a more spacious, melodic, and composed aesthetic that is more uniquely his own. Shannon Kennedy (aka Bitter Milk) proves to be a rather able foil in this endeavor, as her (often electronically treated) droning strings bring a submerged organic melancholy that complements Borges' crackling electronics beautifully.
"Meander" begins the album with subtle static, an insectoid stutter, and a low hum that gradually grows increasingly dense before morphing into a darker, more unsettling and metallic drone. Later, the drone becomes more machine-like in nature and fades out beneath a controlled flurry of crackles and throbs. "Impermanence" follows in a somewhat similar vein, but is initially a bit more intense and immediate (despite the decdedly non-threatening inclusion of field-recorded crickets). It soon drifts into a lengthy, disquieting and cavernous-sounding cello and bowed metal interlude (which itself is ultimately engulfed by white noise and clattering metal). The third track, "Requite," opens with a startling blast of static, followed by some more buzzing and droning (albeit with some vaguely angelic vocal snippet buried deep in the wreckage). Gradually, a grinding metallic drone emerges, along with some somber backwards strings of some kind. The brief flirtation with melody is quickly discarded though, and the track escalates into a dense industrial roar before abruptly cutting out.
Those first three tracks show a meticulous attention to sequencing, dynamics, and coherence: each track is more visceral and compelling than the previous one and they all seem to form a single gradually unfolding song suite. This trajectory, of course, means that Borges saved his best material for the second half of the album. "Trail" and "Former" take the themes of the first half of the album and forge them into something still more impressive and memorable. They are quickly eclipsed, however, as the 20-minute closing track, "You Didn't Break Me," is an absolute tour de force: field recordings, haunting ambience, somber cellos, eerie drones, and ear-shredding cascades of power electronics all unfold in an elegantly composed and seamless flow. Notably, this track contains the only sustained abrasive electronics frenzy on the album, which is quite masterful. Given Borges' past, harshness is to be expected and the incredibly patient and tense build-up to the inevitable catharsis ensures maximum impact. When the previously restrained and elegant electronics of Austere finally turn violent, it hurts.
Austere is an excellent album. There is almost no one else that brings this degree of thought and patience to the experimental noise genre: Borges seems to keep getting better and better. I hope I don't have to wait another three years for him and Shannon to compose a suitable follow-up, but I still have the voluminous Emaciator back catalogue to sift though in the meantime, so I suspect I will somehow manage if I have to." -- Anthony D'Amico / Brainwashed.com