Iron Lung






Post-Jawbreakers Enter The Lung 

Does it get any more cryptic than the first subhead of this review? I can fully relate to a certain befuddlement, for the work that is reviewed here in the Ambient section is certainly more tied to the Vaporwave community. Or is it? It shouldn’t be this way! I’m talking about Iron Lung by Richmond County, Nova Scotia-based artist Boocanan who is much beloved in the V-genre but prone to cause a raised brow or two with her latest 13-track work released on Pizzabox Society in October 2015. Available to fetch and stream at the label’s Bandcamp page, it is the full-length follow-up to the sound-based steel reinforcement procedure called Jawbreakers (DMT Tapes, 2015). That album had some Ambient traits encapsulated in its hardened core alright, but Iron Lung probably against all odds when the title is considered – is less about an in-your-face-attitude and rather ventures into a benthic, glistening world of loneliness. The timbre is doleful, darkness always nigh. By allowing the contemplative concentrated look, the 13 tracks, with three of them being collaborations, aren’t necessarily to be taken as woebegone artifacts for the disheartened generation. In fact, Boocanan ameliorates well-founded and known genre juggernauts such as New Age and Space Ambient with small vapor veils and rave rhizomes. Having previously featured the single To A Better Place in a Vapor Vertebrae writeup of September 2015, it is now time to dive deeper into Iron Lung itself by analyzing three of its paraphyletic cornerstones.


Nomothetic Hits, Caproic Glitzzzz 

The pulmonary alveoli of Iron Lung make for a glistening and magnanimously soothing state. This is probably the most surprising realization and the characteristic trait of the album when it is directly compared with the usually harsher, more granular Jawbreakers. The opener Let Them Know immediately showcases the new-found luminosity that iridesces between music box-fueled phantasmagorias and mystical saprotrophs. These instances happen in front of a heating loop recirculation pump, and as this engineering prowess found in industrial cellars all over the world shows, you can’t produce, maintain and distribute warmth without a bit of noise. This realization is further carved out in one of the following paragraphs, but regardless of how big this epiphany may be, the glitz factor remains: Clientele, for instance, may not cross the two minute mark, but what this Ambient composition lacks in time-related prowess, it gains very much through its sacrosanct plateau of a fragile polar light in the epicenter that is surrounded by vermillion Sheffield Rave helixes; without any beat, as it is only carried by its introverted verdure. The adjacent Victims Of Circumstance is a third – but not final – example regarding the perseverance of both the enigmatic melodies and their vitreous physiognomy. Cautiously arpeggiated acid telemata and clavicular hi-hat surfactants twirl around a galactic light. It is certainly no salubrious light, the track itself depicts an uneasy – and decelerated – tunnel vision, but the amount of Candela is enough to incandesce the coruscation.


Benthic Gro(o)ves Of The Mind

Iron Lung isn’t exactly a swamp, but it can be an aesthetically pleasing cesspool, with mucous cornerstones and moist cataracts. These potentially aqueous vestiges attach easily to the other two distinct markers of the album – luminance and metallics – and fittingly tone down many of the more ogival locales and Tartarean tones by means of whitewashing and diminishing their demonic fauna. Flashfreeze is such a tune, possibly the standout Ambient track of the album, even crossing the threshold to a weathered veteran’s inclination for New Age and Space Ambient: supernal wind chimes, remote synth washes and spectacular pitch shifts let the listener drown and fly at the same time, glimmers of hope and cryovolcanic fibroblasts are adiabatic elements that keep the perversely lilting ergosphere alive. Haven meanwhile is more emaciated and brittle: sound, sustain and silence form a bond, the synth choirs are put into a pressure chamber filled with liquid, everything feels diluted and echoey, the nullspace plays a more important rule than ever, as the thinned stratiform constituents cannot caulk the omnipresence of the darkness anymore. Wither is similarly reduced and therefore underlines its soggy, damp and ultimately crestfallen forsakenness. A collaboration with Dezmo aka Corporate Model, the silvery rays of light are the intended victims of gravitational microlensing: in lieu of being in the epicenter, the listening subject watches the poignantly withered angular momentum from afar. Turn up the volume, and the blackness is diminished in favor of clandestinity and a volatile quasi-immersion.


Metalization Process… Or Make That Progress

The third and final element of Iron Lung has been present in Jawbreakers all along, or make that omnipresent, for we talk about all sorts of steelification, metal compounds and clasps. And why not? The album is called Iron Lung after all, so the inorganic alloy is always near. From The Earth To The Moon, a collaboration with Scenebuild, is but one perfect aural specimen for this kind of – eminently genteel – densitometry. Throughout its runtime of three and a half minutes, radiograms enforce a sense of real human presence, but the lanthanum blebs and tantamount rhenium sparks reign in the same atmosphere, glistening like electropositive ectomorphs. Galactosamines ooze through the speakers, and believe it or not, there’s euphony alright. Fadeaway then presents a molybdenized chimescape that is equally moisturized as it is milquetoast. And blimey, the chlorodyne capsules evoke peace and tranquility yet again, with only the softest of adaxial steel strata to grace the luring syncytium. Nothing prepared me for the mighty Glitter Sanitizer though, a majestic collaboration with Deiter Hetrick aka Bonus Fruit aka Gオーブ. Depending on one’s viewpoint, this is the one song that elevates Iron Lung into a sphere that wasn’t previously part of its endemic entities… or lets it jump the shark for a moment, simply because it is so panchromatic and different: from the magenta Mallsoft mica over the inculcated idea of metallic Mellotron muons to the catchiest cathexis and textural scintillation, it is Glitter Sanitizer that remains trapped in cavernous dungeons, but overcomes these surroundings via its huge color gamut and languorous melodies. A high-plasticity location to cherish.


Isolated Iron Iridesces Indefinitely

The above subhead is probably the catchiest phrase to describe and delineate both of Boocanan’s albums, Jawbreakers and Iron Lung. As luck so often has it, such phrases always fail to cover an album’s real core. Even worse, an in-depth review can only approximate the truth so much either; it probably paves the way with truisms, and that is certainly the more dangerous form of devotion. These thoughts notwithstanding, there are, at least to me, the aforementioned three distinct markers or constituents that drive and realize Iron Lung in particular: the glistening textures, the aquatic afterglow and several sorts of metallics and friends. It is these three concepts you can hear or sense throughout. They altogether connect and become entangled in order to rev up the feeling of isolation. With the prominent exception of the collaboration with Bonus Fruit, each and every track breathes sarcopenia, cloak-and-dagger haze as well as fusillades of forlorn faraway fallacies. Whereas Jawbreakers hammers the message in, for it is rough, immediate, unforgiving, even apoplectically joyous, Iron Lung is the more iconoclastic work, and this riot works in two ways. In a first step it depicts the remorseless remoteness in a gentler, more soothing and even soporific way. The planned obsolescence of the hardest steel and Shoegaze sporophytes is quite astonishing, given that Boocanan still seems to be fond of rougher edges and emotions in her songs. The second step, however, takes the cake: this is an Ambient album alright, a real one, so to speak. Vaporwave is almost left behind, it appears in a certain collaboration and manifests itself transparently in Boocanan’s solo track Clientele, but for many a follower, this stylistic change – if it is perceived as such at all – is harder to swallow than a literal physical jawbreaker. You might take a deeeep breath, but it takes more than just one, as there is only one Iron Lung, and it is to be shared by many listeners.


Further listening and reading: 


Ambient Review 458: Boocanan – Iron Lung (2015). Originally published on Nov. 4, 2015 at