Review: Anemone Tube – The Three Worlds – Allegory Of Vanity

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This project had previously been unknown to me, a world I did not want to explore by myself without anyone by my side – a sickening gut-wrenching feeling – coupled with astonishment as I ventured deeper into my own insanity. Anemone Tube is without a doubt one of the most complex experimental industrial, dark ambient acts out there right now. Stefan Hanser – the real name of this musical culprit – also runs the label that released this compilation, The Epicurean.

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He was kind enough to send me one of his three latest releases, featuring earlier unreleased material and bits plus pieces that have been featured on obscure releases. The one I was sent is the last one in the series, “The Three Worlds – Allegory of Vanity” – playing around with the word vanity, depicting it in different settings and with different edges to make a complete red line throughout the releases.

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The aesthetic aspect of The Three Worlds – Allegory Of Vanity

It is very clear from the beginning as to how much time have been spent on the artwork alone, there are subtle meanings which you can draw from the artwork itself, and it is a delight to hold on to the physical material and view the aesthetic splendor. Not many artists have such a beautiful, harrowing cover. A lot of inspiration is drawn from Buddhism in general, specifically the spiritual aspects of the religious teachings of it.

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There is a rejection of death, there is an embrace of death in the cover itself – nothing lasts forever, it is as if there’s a mummified corpse propped up on the artwork – which is frightening for a Westerner like me. A certain aspect of what makes or breaks the modern human is the fear of death. The photography taken by Dario Lehner encompasses much about what makes Anemone Tube a great artist, there’s a depth and a thought not just on the music – but on the aesthetic aspect – it is entwined with everything else.

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The musical aspect of The Three Worlds – Allegory Of Vanity

Extreme music in different shapes and forms have always been interesting for us, but we’ve never gotten around to the more extreme forms of industrial music. Here’s a real combination of the occult and the experienced at the same time, a veteran of industrial music is more likely to deliver something listenable or thoughtful.

The first song “Ausweg” encompasses material recorded during 1997 – which is unfathomable that it has been over twenty years since then. It is with an urgency that you’re thrown into the chaos of crackling noises, what sounds like gunshots into the air – a veritable nightmare that we’d make sure to never live to see. The word in itself, “Ausweg“, portrays a grim reality which musically is not far away from turning into a mish-mash of continuous loops, into a more controlled and adventurous mixture of dark ambient and experimental industrial music.

Throw in a bit of power electronics to shape the mold that it goes by, just to hear the sirens roar as the skies blacken above you – this music is perfect to listen to in the evening, because the same kind of mayhem isn’t believable musically during daytime. Towards the end of the song there’s a lull of acceptance, a small concentrated steadily shifting atmosphere that leaves nothing more then an overlook of the maniacal frenzy that just occurred musically.

Primary Slave“, also one of his works from 1997, is a descent into nothingness, a nihilistic tendency that devours all the joy you’ve worked up through your day. It is emotionally draining to be listening to, but admirably complex in both the subjective topics being disseminated among a barrage of strong, abrasive rhythm that leaves nothing to be desired musically – it is thought-provoking without having to leave an inch to the imagination. It is like being told what you should be doing, despite a nervousness that slips through the cracks of your subconsciousness.

Honestly, there’s few people that manage to pull off such a masterful combination of the darker genres in electronic music, once you’ve listened until this song, there really isn’t much that can bring forth anything – unless you look far back into the 1980’s, and the primary sources of where this music actually comes from. One of the negatives with this kind of music is that if you’re not heavily into it, there’s nothing you could gain – egotistically speaking – from listening to this. It is a niche that is waiting to reap its benefits, but Anemone Tube’s completeness is what ultimately could break this kind of basic thought.

The third song, “Illusions“, is a previously unreleased track from 1998. Here he makes a clear example with his lyrical ingeniousness, combining the harshness in his vocals with the overall spearheaded atmosphere that thrusts with all its combined weight – into a morbid dark ambient spectacle. A spectacle that leaves no-one undisturbed, a whirlwind of the most uncompromising power electronics, industrialized experimental music that you’ve heard for a long time. This satisfies every man’s need of true, infectious anti-music.

In comparison with the other songs, this one is our favorite. That’s one of the main benefits of listening to Anemone Tube – when one song is surprisingly great – another one strikes out from below and takes the throne. It is almost unbearable to listen through the end, as the intensity is ramped up and you feel a great deal of paranoia – surely one of the most emotionally charged songs thus far.

Asphyxiate” and “Imminence” were both recorded in 1998, previously released on “Allegories For The Future“, a cassette-release on Loud!. The only reason both of these are written about in the same column, is because it feels like they are more intimately connected then the other songs, both logically but also musically. The aforementioned one isn’t that big of a deal in comparison with the last song, but it bridges over a gap between the more emotionally charged songs, and the fact that it fills you with total indifference.

Asphyxiate” is literally what it aims to be, just by looking on the title. It is indescribably horrid – not in the musical way – but as it lacks the complexity and forcefulness of the other tracks on the release. “Imminence” grabs a hold of the classic power electronics sound and puts in an atmosphere where it otherwise would be lacking, a constant disarray of charged electronica that bashes in your skull with such frequency that it must be played out loud. If punk is dead then it will re-surge post-mortem through this release – this kind of music is as uncompromising now as it was back then – and this first compilation is a tribute which holds the spirit to a high degree.

For those of you who have been following Anemone Tube for a long time, we sincerely recommend getting this release. Instead of just buying it digitally, but this wonderfully crafted CD and play it quietly, or aloud. Stream it in full down below, this release is as brutal as it possibly could get, and it isn’t a forced re-hash of older material.

Mini-interview with The Elysium Facade!

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The Elysium Facade is a dark-ambient project started up by Ashe Ruppe in 1998. Since then, he’s released a wide range of albums and is currently in the process of creating his forthcoming album. In another dimension, he’s also involved with the side-project Delphine Coma, alongside Dana Dark. He combines the best of both harsh noise, drone and dark ambient, when he scours and produces the sound-scape. Currently, he’s been putting out his music once again, but this time on Bandcamp and Spotify. Since I began to take an interest in this, I interviewed him via mail. It’s a shorter interview but I hope you’ll enjoy it as you’ve enjoyed every other interview. Scroll down and check it out.

It seems like your music emanates from a naturalistic point of view, e.g. you seem to focus a lot on nature. At least when one reads through the titles of your songs and focuses on the album cover. But where do all these clues lead to, in the end?

– This project has always been about expressing myself in the purest musical form, or at least what poured out of me naturally. Nature has that same pure aspect. I have spent a lot of time alone, deep in different forests all over the country. I have always loved that clarity you can only get when you are miles away from civilization and electricity.  The cover art is my own photography which was taken in Oregon in the Columbia River Gorge.  I think that photograph perfectly captures the atmosphere of the album and the time and place it was recorded.

Why have you chosen dark ambient as a playing field?

– It’s not a genre I specifically chose. It’s not like I sat down one day and decided to try my hand at “dark ambient” music. This style has always been the purest form of musical expression for me. Even before I actually started seriously recording my musical experimentation for TEF back in 1999. I’ve done, what would be considered, dark ambient and experimental music since about 1989. I never sit down with any sort of pre-conceived notion of what sort of track I’m about to record. It’s all done in a very “Dadaist” sort of way. All of the tracks, on The Deepest Sky Is A Shallow Puddle, were recorded when I lived in Portland Oregon between the hours of 12am and 6am. Simply because that was when my mind was the clearest.

I had extreme insomnia and the city was asleep leaving few external noises to clutter my mind. To this day, that remains the only time that these tracks make sense to listen to, for me. If you try to listen to these tracks during the day, with the T.V. on in the background and 5o’clock traffic outside you will miss the point all together. It also makes no sense unless it’s either listened to through headphones or good stereo monitors. The Elysium Facade has pretty much always been for my ears only. It was what I always referred to, semi-jokingly, as my “therapy” and never my “main” musical focus.

Earlier, in the year of 2007, you released a single track for “Silber Sounds of Halloween”. It seems like there’s a lot more focus on the beats rather than the atmospheric content, as there is in your first album release “The Deepest Sky Is A Shallow Puddle”. So why did you go from more beat-oriented to focusing on the atmosphere even more?

– Well, “The Deepest Sky Is A Shallow Puddle” isn’t actually the first TEF album. It’s actually the second, but the first that I have officially released. “Insanitarium”, is the track you are referring to. That is a fairly rare track for TEF because of the use of percussion.  I had been in bed sick for about three days with a very high temperature and on copious amounts of cold medicine. I woke up in the middle of the night and went straight to my computer and recorded this track, then went straight back to bed for two more days. It was very odd indeed and certainly a very rare exception to the drones and atmospheric tracks I typically record.

Concerning that very same album, which you released recently, that contains six tracks all-in-all, makes me wonder – how did the process of producing the album go?

– Since this project was never really meant for mass consumption, it wasn’t approached as I typically would approach writing and recording an album. All of the tracks were recorded over a year’s time as individual tracks that I eventually grouped together.

What is it like to have multiple projects to work on, considering that you’re also in a group called Delphine Coma?

– I’ve always been involved in multiple groups or projects at once. Actually, with TEF and Delphine Coma, it’s very manageable. Over the years I’ve been extremely active playing live and touring and juggling multiple bands. Which usually involved anywhere from two to five other members and three or four rehearsals per week and sometimes as many as four local shows per month. My current projects, with the exception of Glass Arcana, are currently studio projects done in my home studio so I do my writing and recording at my own leisure.

As it seems like you’re putting up your back catalogue up on Bandcamp at the moment, I was wondering how the other albums sound in relation to your first?

– Yes, after about 14 years since the first recording, I finally decided to make all of the TEF recordings available.  I had put a few random tracks around the net over the years and had a couple of tracks appear in movie sound tracks. There had been a few “fan” uploaded tracks on YouTube with an astonishing amount of views so I figured there was some interest in that material. Originally I was going to just simply load them up on Bandcamp but less than 24 hours after I uploaded “The Deepest Sky Is A Shallow Puddle”, a longtime internet friend, Jesse Sola from Numina, hooked me up with Dave Goff in Berkeley who runs Gestalt. Now the back catalog and future releases will be available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and all the other usual suspects.

It’s really hard for me to try to describe how each album sounds in relation to “Breathe” from 1999. That album has several tracks that were recorded live, but most of my material is largely improvised and never really rehearsed. I’ll have to leave it up to you to decide how the albums vary.

What other bands and artists lay close to your heart as you delve into the world of dark ambient?

– There are so many bands and artists that lay close to my heart, many of which would not necessarily be considered “dark ambient”. I am all about community when it comes to art and music. I love collaborations, and I love talking with like-minded artists and musicians. This certainly isn’t a new path for me.

I’ve heard that you’re going to release a totally new album under the same moniker. Could you give me any general details about it?

– Yes, this is true. This will be the fourth album for this project and the first to be approached as an album rather than a series of single tracks. So it will be interesting for me to see how it pans out. I don’t really have any details about it to share at this moment other than it will most likely involve my girlfriend Dana Dark who is the vocalist in Delphine Coma. We collaborate very well together and the next TEF album is something that I am certainly looking forward to.

Thank you for letting me ask these questions!

– I really appreciate you taking the time to ask these questions. Keep up the great work!

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