Symbiosis serves up the darkness by stirring world-funk and horror soundtrack samples into a potent brew based on a menacing, atmospheric dub-techno broth. The album broadly follows a dynamic formula, in which psycho-killer suspense gets followed by burbling grooves, the two playing like night and day, offering tension and release. Opener "Suspicious Drone" is precisely that, a low, unsettling rumble that evokes Consumed-era Plastikman scoring an X-Files episode. Ominous metallic clatter and Hitchcock-strings rise up out of the muck before everything disappears violently down a low-pass black hole. "Haxan Dub" throws a bit more Jamaica into the mix, with ghostly horns and a reggae beat. Here you can tell, or rather feel, the superb mixing job done by Berlin's legendary Dubplates and Mastering—the bass is massive, even on headphones.
"All Hallows Eve" has a 20 Jazz Funk Greats-style sense of claustrophobia, tracing an impending calamity, hearing threats that loom just offstage, casting long shadows. Suddenly a bell-twinkle, reminiscent of the haunting riff from Suspiria, plays us off right before the axe falls. A calm settles in—a Turkish psych-funk beat, filtered into a percolating little creature, the sort of thing that Canty has dug up plenty of times on his renowned Finders Keepers label. The un-dubbed "Haxan" is a clubby, uptempo dub-techno number, seemingly miles away from the dubbed-out doppelganger which precedes it. The percussion-heavy "Conjoined" finds a hooded coven on the prowl to the clamor of elephantine toms and flittering synth pricks.
As cinematic as the record is, it's impossible to ferret out a conclusion. Do the good guys save humanity from extinction? Or does some unholy force reign triumphant? Things don't seem to neatly resolve either way. Symbiosis is more about a constant menace that never fully shows its face, lurking in the dark, inching ever closer. While Southerns may have met her untimely end some four centuries ago, Whittaker and Canty's bass-heavy mood music manages to channel plenty of her dark energy. You might want to listen with the lights on.