Decimus is the project of New York multi-instrumentalist Pat Murano, co-founder of free-improv outfit No-Neck Blues Band (as well as one-half of drone maximalists Key Of Shame). Since adopting this Roman-flavored alias in 2010, his release schedule has been fast and furious, with an astonishing 11 other full-lengths, each one just as trippy and sprawling as his latest. Decimus 10 consists of two untitled collages, both layered in a dizzying assortment of sounds. These include piercing synthesizer screech, Dead C-like guitar murk, dub techno blowtorched into molten lava, nebulous blasts of static, environmental recordings, black-metal ether and corroded industrial chug.
But what's especially captivating here is how Murano makes these sounds bleed into one another. Just as one idea begins snapping into focus (i.e. begins making actual sense to the ears), it cunningly shape-shifts into something entirely different and altogether alien. Possibly the most thrilling example sits in the middle of side B, when a field recording of a rainstorm blossoms into cavernous feedback, through which emerge croaked mantras that sound like they came from a '70s film about Satanic cults. These then evaporate amidst peels of celestial static and, finally, a tribal lurch shattered into bits by harsh fuzz.
The Satanic cults reference is quite key, actually. Murano's work, while exceptionally surreal, has a sinister streak as well. In this regard, some stretches of Decimus 10 could surely be woven into a funereal-type mix, one also featuring tracks from Demdike Stare, Anworth Kirk, et al. But what has to be stressed is the intense rawness of Murano compared to his more refined counterparts from across the pond. Side A's final six minutes (which sound like the result of a recording malfunction) drive this point home, with a muffled kick buried underneath a pile of vile distortion, a hellishly piercing synthesizer and what resembles the final wailings of a dying tortoise. This stuff isn't blown out and cruddy in a stylish or fashionable way, it's just blown out and cruddy, period.
Yet this is precisely why Decimus stands out. Rather than sever his roots in free improv and drone to make synthesizer music and electronic-ambient, Murano has cultivated a genuine fusion of these two poles, one that is uncompromising, esoteric and, ultimately, singular.