Fear Konstruktor – Gitche Manito (2012)

I like the packaging of this one too, as the last one was a functioning cogwheel made of wood. This one is made of a nice material that reminds me of linen and has a laser cut wooden logo which is also very nice. Even though there were some fragments of it that got stuck on the vinyl, there’s not much to complain about. It’s pretty minimalistic when it comes to the aesthetics, but I think the fabric is much more luxurious than the regular jewel-cased CD or vinyl you’ll get with regular delivery’s. The darker green color mixed with a lighter tan makes the laser cut logo on the front stick out a little bit more. When it comes to combination, this one isn’t really that advanced, but it reeks of simpleness made a little bit more advanced. I like it when it’s kept simple or is made a little bit more advanced. Not much to say here, but the Swedish postal service should be ashamed of themselves. They handle the packages without care and it resulted in a bit of a ripped surface on the edge of the fabric itself.

1. Elf Owl

The first song is titled “Elf Owl“. Leading into some kind of naive version of industrial, with heavy ambient. It’s almost as if they’ve channeled the industrial elements and the bizarre undertones of it, mashed it together with some wonderful ambient and just went with it. Almost like some kind of bad dream, where the continuos howls and evil laughs in the background compromise most of the sound-scape. Like if someone decided to clean out their vinyl-shack and found out that it was haunted, and then decided to record it and release as a song. Also, it sometimes sounds like laughs and screams from the underworld, as if they’ve been granted totally new life in this song and are just trying to scare the living shit out of you. A communique from the other side, a full-fledged and insane artifact that displays it through sound-waves. Distorted wailing, flanged laughter and a heck of a stable sound-scape. As if its moving through quicksand and is eager to make its way out of it before disappearing beneath and suffocating. Even though it sounds scarey and fits with the general month of October, it’s also an interesting document in sound that actually says to you, even though it’s blatant: “I can do what I want, I don’t need any conventional upbringing“. And that’s pretty rad, it’s like a self-playing piano, it’s like someone actually recorded this but not on purpose. The industrial layers of it become more and more obvious the longer you get into it, which is also a craftsmanship in itself. It’s pretty hard to match an ambient landscape filled with stronger elements than the industrial influence itself. But it’s looming there, in the background, and it makes the whole sound-scape seem more haunted than it would’ve if the ambiance would’ve been there on its own.

2. Glossy Starlings

As we’re heading on to the second track, titled “Glossy Starlings“, I get a sense of what’s ahead. Ever cleaned out an abandoned church-tower by yourself in the middle of the night? Don’t do it. You’ll know why when you listen to this. It actually sounds like someone recorded the flight of the bats and the bell-tower itself, in the middle of the night. A freezing winter night, with a total nonsensical but true view of how it would feel. The sound-scape itself changes immensely much, but to the untrained ear, at first glance it sounds like there’s nothing happening. But the main focus of this song doesn’t seem to be the overt sound of the general sound-scape, it’s about finding those noises that define the sound-scape itself and the more you listen to it, the more interesting and scary stuff you find. It feels like total apathy when listening to it and the ambiance works well with the background noises. There’s actually a heightening of the noises in the background, when it delves into the sound-scape in general, but places itself on different parts of the session. At times it feels like you’re moving through an ancient catacomb, and this song induces a sense of importance. In the fact that it sounds ancient, might have a hidden story within itself and is a part of history. I believe that this track goes more in the historical fashion, even though they have no borders that they work with. The passages introduce themselves and take you with them on an awesome trip if you have any imagination whatsoever. It feels like there’s always something playful with it, like molding water and sliding it through the air. Impossible elements that wouldn’t even match if they’d be in their original state. Fear Konstruktor shows what he can mold, but he does it with such precision that it sometimes is hard to grasp. Visually, there’s a wide-range of painted pictures that slide through your head, almost like he’s trying to project these images via his music in one way or another. And he does it very well, almost too well.

3. Cathartes Aura

The last song on the A-Side, after minutes of horror. It’s titled: “Cathartes Aura“. As if a drooping ending to this side wasn’t enough, the current plague of industrialized decay and the abominably huge ambient landscape takes you to another side of the coin. This song really fuels the fire that the latter two have been keeping lit. With a total barren landscape in front of you, consisting of metallic noises and fuzz that’s being made in the background. Even though it’s got a distinct and high noise, the sound-scape really distinguishes itself from the others by being accompanied by a static and buzzing noise. It’s got more of the developed noise and some power electronics in it. Whilst the others were more keen on nature and featured the vast mechanic landscape within the whole picture, this song brings the industrial influences to a new peak. Also lending the hand to many other influences that haven’t been portrayed yet, making the texture of it a little bit rougher but also more concentrated. Since it’s also got a good combination of the elements that were present in the first song, this one may have been placed as the last song on this side because of its conclusive nature. It really summarizes everything that have already been featured, but turned up the other influences a notch. There is an ambient landscape, but it’s constantly being fought off by the more mechanic and screechy noises in the background. Feels as if it is a combat between mother nature and the industrialized society, as if the machines are taking over completely. Chains, rattles, high-pitched metallic noises – everything that would be great at an industrial party. The only thing I’m missing now is the visual portrait of an industrialized town, but there are so many disturbances in the musical rhythms that it’s hard to imagine what it could be. It could be everything and nothing, but there’s like some kind of musical force-field. As if the artist doesn’t want you to figure out the bigger picture visually. So it’s a great placement of the song, because it musically makes you wonder if there’s anything else. A great addition to a great start, and I’m already starting to wonder if this song was put here because of the intrigue it created. Now I want to know more about the B-side.

4. Cinnamon Teal

First song on the B-side is titled: “Cinnamon Teal“. In the beginning it feels like you’re high up in the sky, with the eagles, soaring around mountains and viewing everything from atop. The more you get into it, the more it feels like something is charging or regenerating strength to burst out at any minute. If you’re out in the nature, it feels like you’re hearing the whole Eco-system and all the animals. Owls hew-ing up in the trees, frogs jumping around and making noise. A more naturalistic approach, since the closer track on side A of the record. Imagine a cold night, laying out in the wild, observing everything and hearing every imaginable noise. The ambient-driven landscape changes as it grows louder, but then decides to be quiet once again. As if it lurks in the wild, trying to hunt its prey. There’s also a nice calm about this song, it’s never intrusive and bombastic – just naive and natural. An all too minimalistic sound-scape, that exchanges the minimalism in between the different sections, for some louder noises. I like how it suddenly decides to stop and then bulges on in the background, until the noises reach the higher levels of altitude. At the same time, the time flies by and so does the sound-scape. It echoes out with the wonderful noise of birds in the background, exchanging its once hefty and naive nature for something else. The transgression between this track and the track after it is amazing. It’s calm, controlled and very delicate. In my mind, each song leaves a mark and this one left a strong mark. The story was amazing and the naturalistic approach made it believable, it felt like being there in person and the visuals were stunning from above. Switching from the high altitude of an eagle, to the ground-level frog, mixing in between just to get a hang of it.

5. Ravens At The Tower

Even though the titles often are good indicators of what you’re going to listen to, this song: “Ravens At The Tower“, becomes a perfect indicator. The title of the song reveals everything, the sound of the ravens make me imagine what the title says. Because they’re not close enough to be anything else, and they’re too distinct to not be ravens at all. Since I haven’t touched on the subject yet, I get the feeling that Fear Konstruktor also rely very much on field-recordings. If these sounds truly didn’t come from the wild, he’s at least managed to re-create an authentic experience. At times, it also seems like you’re hearing reptilians hiss in the grass. The constructed ambient noises that waddle along with the natural recordings of ravens and animals alike, make it seem like a fabricated space where life can reign. It also feels like a safe-haven of some sort, and that you’re a wanderer that just wandered into a secret place where animals can truly be free from humans. There’s some sort of edge, like the human presence is reflected with the manipulated and fabricated analog drone. Whilst the other noises sound too authentic to be anything else than real ravens and real animals. After all, this sound-scape is force-feeding different thoughts into my mind, and I reflect on them continuously throughout the song. It feels like meditative music but at the same time also philosophic, because it unveils the philosopher in me. It may not be hard to understand after you’ve listened to it for a while, but it’s hard to grasp the core of the concepts. Therefore the analysis becomes what it is, which is the strength of the visual and the musical combined. Fear Konstruktor does both very well, and I’ve said it before. He’s almost a guru at what he does, it seems, but I think there’s something missing still. A small component, maybe. But I guess it’s all about the personal taste.

6. Green Heron

Now, finally, it’s the end. No, it’s just the final track on the b-side, but not the end yet. It’s titled: “Green Heron“. Since I haven’t heard any human factor in his music, it feels weird to hear it in the end. But it sounds like someone chanting something or calling for help. Whilst the snow is falling and the storms are getting tougher and tougher. The noise is not getting weaker, but it’s not getting stronger either. Maybe it’s the echoes that travel through the cave and back at the human chanting it. It’s possibly the shortest song on the album, too. But it just goes to show what kind of an artist he really is. Combining these strange elements, making them all join each other and not making it sound too awkward, makes for a great artist. There’s basically no industrial in this song, but the ambient and field-recording style of it covers that base great. I could enjoy listening to this track for days, because it conveys too many feelings. Sometimes you feel apathetic and other times you’re just too tired to care. Even though I said something was missing, maybe this was the final ingredient? I don’t really know, but I did like listening to it. He covered so many bases on so few songs and they weren’t that long when it comes to the normal standard within these genres. The drone part was fabulous and the missing ingredients could’ve been tuned up a notch, but for all I care, he’s done a great job. This album also held a big amount of great tracks, which can be unusual at worst, but at best can be a life-saver. It was a pleasure listening to it and even though I’m a novice within this area, I think a good challenge once in a while can’t be that bad. It was actually one of my most challenging reviews ever, not when it comes to length or analysis, but when it comes to analyzing the whole process of it. Thank you for that and thank you SEALT for releasing such great albums.

Favorite songs: Green Heron, Ravens At The Tower and Elf Owl.

Label: SEALT

Pressing: Limited to 90 hand-numbered copies

My final judgement: 4.3/5

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