Altar of Waste Records, the drone/ambient/HNW label operated by Cory Strand of Dreamless, Yog Sothoth, Lethe, and a bunch of other fine projects. Cory is quite prolific, and there is a somewhat endless barrage of excellent music emanating from him and his label. In my opinion, Cory's best work has been released under his own name, most of it though Altar of Waste (though Occult Supremacy has also released a few great albums as well), and though all of it is quite outstanding, this particular album, a reinterepretation of the soundtrack from writer/director Terrence Malick's latest film, 2012's To The Wonder, is the absolute height of Cory Strand's significant powers.
Unfortunately, I did not see this film in the one local theater that chose to show it, and ended up watching it on cable TV in the comfort of my own home. But I made sure to choose a very quiet and peaceful night to watch the film, knowing that sound plays an integral part in Malick's films. Upon watching it, I thought that the film was just about perfect in every way. It explored the many different textures of love, memory, forgiveness, betrayal, and faith, and did so in a way that was very moving and even quite unsettling at times. In fact, after finishing my first viewing of the film, I had to watch it a second, as it brought up so many different thoughts, feelings, and questions within my heart and mind that I couldn't leave unanswered. So I watched it again, and knowing that Cory is a fan of Malick and had already (masterfully) worked with the soundtrack from Malick's The Thin Red Line, I thought to myself that it would really be terrific if he chose to reinterpret this one as well.
I am happy to say that Mr. Strand's reinterpretation of To The Wonder is his best work yet, doing the film and its score justice, and in fact, a great service. This is a large collection of music, consisting of 5 CDrs and over 5 and 3/4 hours of hazy, droning ambiance. The drones on this album shimmer with beauty and evocative sadness, and serve to expand (in a major way) on the emotional tones and themes of the film. One of the main themes of the film, for me, was the "wildness" of the beautiful and supremely talented Olga Kurylenko's character Marina. Marina was indeed wild and uncontrollable, lost in a vast expanse of her own emotions and impulses, and Cory's work with the film's soundtrack reflects that quite brilliantly. Marina's relationship with Ben Affleck's character Neil, as well as her relationship with herself, caused me great pause, forcing me to reflect on my own life choices at great length, and this reinterpretation of the soundtrack has done the same. It is dense, challenging, and shrouded in a wonderfully picturesque fog, and is also a work of considerable genius, finding Cory Strand at the apex of his musical accomplishments thus far.
This is a limited edition of 5, and there appear to be 3 left for purchase in the Altar of Waste store. I do not recommend waiting on this one. If you have appreciated Cory's work in the past, or even if you've just seen the film and would like to explore those emotions a bit more, this is something that you need to have. Get it here.