Los Angeles-based artist Jesse Draxler’s audio-visual project and compilation album, Reigning Cement, arrives Friday (September 4th), featuring contributions from nearly two dozen musicians including Chelsea Wolfe, Full of Hell’s Dylan Walker, The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato, Uniform, VOWWS, and more. A 100-page book of photography will accompany the album’s release. Below, you can stream Reigning Cement in full exclusively via Heavy Consequence.
You may have seen Draxler’s striking artwork adorning recent albums by Daughters and Poppy. Steeped in black-and-white, his work is stark and uncompromising. Reigning Cement certainly bears his artistic stamp, with stark photographs of cop cars, crumbling cityscapes, and urban melancholy adorning pages within the book.
For the music, he gave each artist the same 34 sonic elements with which to make a song. For example, VOWWS’ “Them” molds Draxler’s field recordings into a sinister piece of industrial darkwave. All of the root assets were recorded on an iPhone in an industrial area outside Draxler’s studio, compiled over a four year span. Among the sounds captured: concrete saws, jackhammers, trains, trucks, building alarms, construction sites, and general noise.
“Working with limited sounds meant we had to listen in detail to each recording over and over to get an idea of which parts might work for what,” said VOWWS, who’ve previously collaborated with Draxler on album art and merch designs. “It was hypnotic, like the recordings were saying something, and rhythms started to present themselves and connect to each other in a specific way. It felt like there was a song already in there somewhere, we were just trying to coax it out.”
Added Draxler: “It blew me away what some of these musicians were able to create from sheer noise recorded with my iPhone. I’m still in a state of disbelief, which I mean as the highest praise to each of them.”
Of the musical collaborations, Draxler asked friends like Rizz of VOWWS and his Federal Prisoner co-runner Puciato, as well as artists he’d never met before.
“It started out with who I felt the most comfortable asking — musicians I have the closest relationship with or the best working relationship with,” Draxler explained. “As more people responded, I started branching out. At one point, I was just asking any musician I was into at the time or any band I was listening to.”
The resulting all-star roster of dark musicians is a who’s-who of underground luminaries: Eric Ghoste (Ghostmane), Street Sects, Exploited Body, Jaye Jayle, Gendo Ikari, Intensive Care, Virgin Mother, Lisa Mungo (F**ked & Bound), O Future, Planet B, Portrayal of Guilt, Reeko, Shifted, Thirst Church, TR/ST, Surachai, Seb Alvarez (Meth.), and Trentemøller, plus many others.
Draxler planned on hosting a gallery exhibition of Reigning Cement this past June, but the COVID-19 pandemic effectively closed most art galleries and performance venues. Draxler said it’s “definitely not off the table for the future.”
In the meantime, the visual side of Reigning Cement is presented in the form of the book, though Draxler said a digital version is imminent.
“The physical book itself is a beautiful piece that a lot of work went into,” Draxler said, “so that is the ideal way to view the project, but for those who are unable to get their hands on it there will surely be a digital component to the book as well.”
Pre-order Reigning Cement via Federal Prisoner. In addition to streaming the compilation, watch the accompanying music videos for the album’s three singles and check out the tracklist and book artwork below.
Reigning Cement Tracklist:
01. Chelsea Wolfe & Ben Chisholm – Valerian
02. Dylan Walker – Time Reign Cement
03. Ghostemane – Rubble
04. Exploited Body – Your Stoic Gaze Changes States of Matter
05. Gendo Ikari – 4
06. Greg Puciato – Everyone Dies and Nothing Goes On
07. Intensive Care – Cordite
08. Jaye Jayle – I Saw You Digging
09. Lisa Mungo – Jezero: Cycle 5
10. O Future – Plastic Fruit
11. Planet B – Intimate Terrorism
12. Portrayal of Guilt – Omnicide
13. Reeko – Impossible Cycle
14. Shifted – Almanac Shimmer
15. Street Sects – Key Fob
16. Surachai – Unrelenting Reign
17. Thirst Church – Metal Violets
18. Trentemøller – Asfalt
19. TR/ST – Dissolved
20. Uniform – Catholic Town
21. Virgin Mother – Life Removed
22. Vowws – Them 2:44
Reigning Cement Book Artwork: