John Parnell, known to experimental music as 061180, is back after his ambient, esoteric EP, I’m Considering Being a Cloud, was released almost exactly one year ago. Now just as ambient but much darker is a full-length epic called The Dream of a God. It’s a 27-track sonic horror movie, a concept album which describes a Parnell-invented series of cult murders in Louisiana.
Parnell has released numerous works as 061180 since 2013, but none so detailed and cohesive as The Dream of a God. Aside from being a creepy concept album or perhaps because of it, Parnell has been able to incorporate all of his favorite types of music: punk, drone ambient and experimental ambient music. To create such a recognizable story as is told on this album, Parnell likely had to use every tool in his box. Everything from guitars to vacuum synths to chainsaws have been employed.
Most of the “songs” on The Dream of a God are put together in groups, having titles in kind. The first ten, for example, are all named “A Long Torturous Night”, part I, II, etc. That particular grouping full of creaks, cracks, white noise and other creepy sounds, exploding in the end into shrieks and some very foreboding metallic sounds. It’s obvious that on top of the analog elements, Parnell experimented at length with many different types of synthesizers to get the results he did in these spooky song series.
The album is clearly meant to be listened to as one cohesive work, but the track which really encapsulates what Parnell is trying to achieve is track 14,”All Monsters Are Human (Part III)”. This track sees Parnell using almost his whole arsenal of sound, both in music an action. With female shrieks, screams, gurgles and other disturbing noises layered over and around discordant drone music, the experience is far more visceral in this song with regard to horror than even the scariest film. Guitar feedback with sinister-sounding organs and strings make the skin crawl even more as the unseen action takes its terrifying course. More vocal sounds are heard than in any other track here, but as they fade into the distance the silence to which the track returns carries with it even more terror.
The Dream of a God must be listened to in order to be fully appreciated; the way in which Parnell at 061180 captures such horrible events with a minimum of sound and even less explanation shows that the skill in a masterpiece is not always in the sounds, but in the spaces between. The visceral, horrific feelings which this album elicits are found more in these spaces than anywhere else. A composition which makes such expert use of these spaces needs to be appreciated even if the listener has no interest in horror. Still, it might be a good idea to appreciate this sonic genius in the daylight. The Dream of a God can be streamed and purchased along with 061180’s other work on his Bandcamp page, and check out more information on Parnell at revqueendaddy.com.