Cactus Erectus is an artist from Bulgaria affiliated with Suck Puck Recordz’ niche, experimental, ambient, and chillcore sounds. While information on the artist is admittedly a bit vaguer than most, in this instance elusiveness is quite suited to the sounds of Cactus Erectus. Their most recent release of 2019, Strange Stories, is a journey into the world of an artist who possess a sophisticated ear for unique, thoughtful, and plainly beautiful ambient music. In the vein of the atmospheric, instrumental sounds of This Will Destroy You, Strange Stories maintains a very nuanced, cultivated sound that evokes a sense of serene surrender to a shadowy darkness.
All seven tracks are fairly short, beginning with “Riverrun” whose sounds make you feel as if you’re floating at the mercy of the tide around you. The track is ethereal and calming as it ebbs and flows like a wave guided by the rhythm of the percussion, eventually fading softly away. The sense of aquatic bliss flows through the distant, distorted vocals of “Dolor Escandle” as they vibrate at the mercy of the rhythm, and “Ilkos Universe,” a track which sounds like the muffled recording of an utterly content someone singing in the shower, played on an old turntable.
With the more energetic and industrial “I Think We All Might Have Died Back in 2012,” the album’s tone takes a bit of a darker, edgier turn. “Everything Is so Strange,” with its sombre backwards guitar, sounds like it could have be 55-seconds from one of John Frusciante’s harrowing heroin-driven solo albums of the early-to-mid 90s. “Everything Is Love” sounds like a love song played backwards, whose soft and subtle but repetitive beat evokes a sense of a love that is struggling to overcome entrenched patterns.
In all, Strange Stories, in its exquisite elegance, should be a go-to both for those who seek out the avant-garde and for those new to it.
Written by Jordan Hodgins
*edited by Danielle Kenedy