Review: Celephaïs – Grey Dawn, Quaint Gardens

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Ordo Viatorum surprised us first with the split between Neugeborene Nachtmusik and Onont Kombar, to us they seemed like an off-shoot to Enfant Terrible at first – though they share common ground in a lot of aspects – this label is run by Jeroen Holthuis and Maurice Hermes. The label is even more experimental, if that is even a possibility. The second release to be reviewed on Repartiseraren came out in November last year, and features the first album of the duo Celephaïs – Ian Martin (Kaval, Opfer) and Jeroen Holthuis, titled “Grey Dawn, Quaint Gardens“.

We were sent a physical vinyl (limited edition of 300) which is remarkable in all its simplicity, but more on that later on in this article, as we’re about to show you the full layout of the release itself in the pictures below.

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Gladly enough, there’s nothing negative to report about in the shipping process, everything looks pristine and is working as intended. So here’s where PostNord actually didn’t screw up in terms of delivery, a once in a lifetime experience. There are two more pictures which feature the A-Side and the B-Side of the vinyl itself, which can be viewed down below, and then we’re off to the aesthetic aspect of this release.

The aesthetic aspect of Grey Dawn, Quaint Gardens

It is clean, easy on the eyes and beautiful in its own particular way. White and black, some hints of light brown on the vinyls themselves, and the insert almost looks like a Rorschach-test. There’s always been hints of different colors beneath the black and white facade that Ordo Viatorium have portrayed before this release, there are subtle notions of something else hidden away that you’d have to look for before even finding it.

Even though the aesthetics aren’t that pleasing when it comes to the cover, it is simply because it is not something we’ve grasped and can relate to in any way, it feels like a profound release when viewing the package as a whole, but be wary of catching a mind-virus, as it feels like looking at something resized a million times as if it was originally viewed through a microscope.

Those kinds of aesthetics are not off-putting, but it is subliminal in a way that we cannot fathom – but the artists themselves had a clear intention of putting images in our heads – and that goes perfectly well with the music. It’s pretty standard for any experimental release to have something that doesn’t adhere to the norm – but it has rather become the opposite – that experimental aesthetics have set their own norm – which isn’t touching your soul in the same, rebel spirit as it may once adhered to.

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The musical aspect of Grey Dawn, Quaint Gardens

As described earlier, this duo consists of Ian Martin and Jeroen Holthuis, both of them are no strangers to experimental electronic music. Ordo Viatorum is proving to be a viable platform for these projects to flourish, without the help from the outside and little to none recognition, which is wholly undeserved. The musical experience these two possess is what reveals itself in this debut-album, “Grey Dawn, Quaint Gardens“, now we’re going to delve into it as per usual – on a track-by-track basis – for the review.

Undreamed Dreams” is a paradox in itself by name, but it adheres to the concept in the title of the track, a dreamy and ambivalent soundscape set in motion by a hushed electronic motion that steadily creeps in on you. A boat that never reaches harbor, a train that huffs and puffs like the old days but never stops on a platform – a continuum between awake and asleep. It is a ghastly feeling to be caught in a limbo, the more you notice the vague and sensible touches put in there by the artists, the more uneasy it feels listening to it.

We conjure the most horrible thoughts, as time passes by this is where time stops for a while and feels like an eternity. Not even on the second track yet, and we’re not even upset because of boredom, but it is upsetting to be drawn in and latched on to musically – it feels like never letting go, a constant reminder that you can only affect as much of the world around you, but it doesn’t make a difference in the end. There are some beautiful nihilistic tendencies which gives off a cold, stale emotionally charged vibe.

The music itself is as if ambient were re-occupied by the greatness of Tim Hecker’s earlier material once again, just in a completely different setting. It is very European in style, and delivers what can be construed as a thoughtful but menacing barrage of noisy synthesizers, simple but provoking droned out sounds, abhorrent ringing sounds and rambunctious arpeggios – a wake-up call on a Sunday evening that Monday is tomorrow.

Resentful Of Awaking” is being hit by the sunlight when you just want to pass out, another day to tackle with inane activities. What becomes clear after two songs in is how accurate the titles are, they have not just been made up out of the blue, like most ambient songs have – they actually reflect themselves into the music, as it have reflected it back when first being named. This one is more beautiful in a calming fashion, though some of the sounds manage to send a chilling feeling down our spine. If we’d hear this every time we’d be waking up, we would’ve been filled with energy and optimistic about the rest of the day.

There is a certain nerve of darkness that smothers itself upon you, when the rain hits your window and you’re forced to endure walking through it on your way to work. When the music is so thought-provoking in different ways, and you can just soak it in – doesn’t matter if it is negative or positive – you know the musicians have succeeded. It is an art form if you manage to pull so many strings, so many nuanced feelings in between that can’t be written in words, that you should be aware of what talent you’ve amassed.

Damp Stone Spiral Stairway” is the best song overall on the A-Side of this vinyl, nothing beats the constant brooding, deep base tone that makes your head spin round and round like the vinyl itself on the turntable. You may feel nauseous, you may be a bit dissy after hearing it – but when paired with the flair and urgent sounds in the background – the atmosphere cannot get any better. Having built upon a solid ground, this uproots on itself and heads upwards, through the mountains. Have I ever wanted to witness Aurora Borealis in sound, this is it – or at least close to one of nature’s phenomenons – it is almost as if they’d want to mimic something like that with the sound.

When paired with the whole audio-visual experience, this song becomes even better and should solely be watched together with this video, even though it definitely holds up on its own. Some of the best combinations of ambient and experimental electronica in general that we’ve heard for quite some time.

Red-Roofed Pagoda” starts off with a whirlwind of buzzing sounds, spaced out electronic music and a more industrially-oriented paved way musically. There’s more surprising elements fused within the music itself, and chords that feel like they are going somewhere – rather then laying the emphasis on a massive atmosphere – it is more compact and solidified. It is heavy on the ears but not antagonistic in any way, there’s a seriousness that isn’t fading out any time soon, an urgency to deliver a musical message or show the way, despite what you think of it in your own mind.

Had there been any vocals on this one, they’d be suitable for power-electronics and industrial, but more so the last genre. It is almost as if there will come something that reminds you that it could be power-electronics or noise music, but they discard that run-at-the-mill option and go heavily into other territories of unexplored synthesis. An eye-opener for anyone interested in those genres, as it is most often invested in what came before but not on what comes next, or what could be morphed into something in between all of that.

A Violet-Coloured Gas Told Him” is by far our least favorite song, it doesn’t swing the rope as high as the others and instead falls short. There is a short way to climb, but this is as if something was concocted in a laboratory, where the main focus wouldn’t be on establishing anything to bridge over from the gap the last song left, to the song after this one. Unfortunately it feels bland and uninspiring, though some moments of it leaves more to the listener in terms of experience.

Here’s where they jumped ship for the first time, there really isn’t anything that makes you feel anything. If that is the point – then they’ve succeeded – if not, then they’ve failed miserably, unfortunately. We’ve tried to listen to it multiple times, but it barely gets interesting on the end of it, but then we’re all deaf ears.

Good thing to be caught up in “They Seemed To Gallop Back Through Time“, as it saves the evening, literally. Despite being the last song on the vinyl, it proves to be a great outro as well as a song, heavily invested in intangible themes and a compromise between atmospheric electronica and the more industrially oriented side of Celephaïs. There are also some oriental vibes caught in between all of this, but as they fade out it begins to get more scarce with that. Then – all of a sudden – they jump back into it, more outdrawn and less stoic, more psychedelic and with a vengeance.

What do we think of this album all-in-all? It is probably one of the greatest debuts we’ve heard in these genres, and we’re interested in what will happen in the future for Celephaïs. They provide you with something different, even though you hear similarities with other artists and groups, but they don’t affect your judgement when listening to this. To get the ultimate experience, you definitely have to get the physical edition of it, the vinyl – from Ordo Viatorum. You can listen to some of the full tracks from this mix Jeroen made for SEER 334, down below.

 

Exclusive Premiere: Duran Duran Duran – Sinking About You

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Not to be confused with Duran Duran, the more experimentally oriented electronic musician Duran Duran Duran (Ed Flis) is now having his latest release put out on Tripalium Corp – as a part of one of their ongoing release-series – Digital Mutant. The title of this release is “Bolo Trax” and sports some very intuitive, beautiful and forceful ambient-styled electronica on the a-side of the release, whilst the b-side is filled with a claustrophobic and abrasive experimental kind of electronic music.

What’s exciting about this release is that it is a very limited edition cassette, only forty copies made, which after it comes out will become a sought after item. Even though some of the music isn’t that appealing when listening through it the first time, like many good releases it starts to grow on you and certain themes can be sought out within the music and yourself as you connect to it on a weird metaphysical level.

We’re proud to be collaborating with Tripalium Corp in getting to exclusively premiere their releases, and this one is no exception. You will be able to stream the song “Sinking About You”, taken from the a-side of the release, exclusively on Repartiseraren nine days before the actual release. Tune in to it down below and don’t forget to pre-order the cassette. It is also available as a digital release.

Exclusive Premiere: Bird People – To Peer Into the Huntress’ Mirror

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An unknown group for me at first glance, a more well-known after a listen. The Austrian wonder that is Bird People have been active since 2010. Having released their first record in 2012 on Feathered Coyote Records, titled “The Coming Of The Trickster God“, it sparked their journey throughout psychedelic rock, folk rock – and finally into experimental drone. The biggest change which had them going into the drone-territory in the first place, was the release on the same label, titled “Crème Brûlée And Deer Tracks In The Snow (Slow Return)” which featured a long, drone-ish, psychedelic rock track. After that, they left the label Feathered Coyote Records for the label Jehu and the Chinaman, where they released “Terma“. Here’s where the real change is, where they go into the format of tracks ranging from between roughly 15 minutes to 20. Instead of the format they began with, which was releasing tracks in between the range of 4 to 6 minutes long. This is important to know, if you’re going to realize the connection between the earlier releases, and the march that Bird People made into their new and comfortable territory of sound. Even though some of their sessions also were released in 2013, alongside material in the regular format of sound that they worked with before was released once more – they have certainly made their shape known through this forthcoming release that I have taken a track from.

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I’m delighted to share with you a track from their forthcoming release. A track that spans up to 19 minutes of length, which is featured on the A-side of this release, alongside another track – making it a two-tracked release – with a monstrosity of at least 19 minutes in length on both sides. This release is titled “King of the Grove” and is going to be released by Yerevan Tapes on the 8th of April, making it their third label that they have or are going to release any material upon. Making them even more noticeable with this cassette-release, opening up even more doors with their now experimental drone sound that is a delight to hear. Their original format is present in the way of rock and psychedelia, but have been extended to a maelstrom; of a newly incarnated sound. I’m proud to be giving you the track “To Peer Into The Huntress’ Mirror” for streaming purposes, taken directly from the A-side of this release. It’s a haunting track, maybe not as brutal in its shape as the B-side of this release which have already been listened to by devoted fans, and like-minded people. But it delivers in a sense what they’ve become after a long struggle in sound, making it an interesting track that is both calm in its spiritual form, but also chaotic in its less ordered form. This release will be put out on the 8th of April by Yerevan Tapes, on cassette. But you can stream this track exclusively through Repartiseraren, so I hope that you’ll take heed from this sound and enjoy.

Exclusive Streaming: Ekman – Don’t Let Them In

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Enfant Terrible and its sub-label Gooiland Elektro team up, one last time, together with Invisible Guy. This time we’re pushing for another release that is coming out simultaneously, in the end of August. The dutch producer Ekman have graced us with his wonderful “Nervous” 12¨, featuring four songs. You might know him from such releases as “M.S.P.” on Solar One Music, or the more well-known release for our Nordic brothers; “Kalla Rytmer Att Dansa Till I Ensamhet” on Beläten earlier this year. With one foot in acidic techno, another one in frightening electro. Also, a third one in new beat and a fourth one in early techno. You never know where he’ll step with his feet, but when he does, you’ll know it will be excellent. This release is no exception. He unleashes some of his dirtiest and darkest stuff, topped up with the characteristics of a beaten up urban environment. As you might know, you’re in for a treat once again when we collaborate. We decided to let you stream the track “Don’t Let Them In” from the A-Side of his forthcoming 12¨, for you to stream your ears off with. You can stream the whole track down below, exclusively on Invisible Guy. If you like what you hear, you might want to consider to pre-order it. You’ll be able to do this here. For those that are wondering, this release will be out somewhere in the end of August.