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.

 

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Watch: Celephais – Damp Stone Spiral Stairway

This surrealistic, brooding and strange sound emanating from Celephais is hypnotizing. Alongside the music-video for the song “Damp Stone Spiral Stairway“, featured on their first album release ever on Ordo Viatorum, is a piece of craftsmanship we’d thought we wouldn’t like at first glance. When combined with the music, the video brings together cinematography and an almost 3D-esque glimpse into something not as futuristic anymore, it feels almost as if we’re viewing this from the perspective of someone three decades ago at least.

Once you’re sucked in, the music never lets go of you, it pulls you further in and holds you up – as if you’ve seen the light for the first time – a metaphoric out of the body experience, as told by weird shapes and forms traversing time. The full album is titled “Grey Dawn, Quaint Gardens” and will be reviewed, track-by-track, tomorrow on Repartiseraren. Nothing more needs to be said about this, we’ll let the video describe it perfectly well on its own – because a great music-video can convey something we ordinary humans can’t do in text, you really need the full audio-visual experience.

Previews of the full album can be listened to on the Ordo Viatorum Soundcloud, we’ve linked that below this text so you can get into both the video and the music at the same time, though only in the shape of previews so far – you will have to purchase the vinyl – it is beautiful to say the least, in a very subliminal way.

Listen: mar, Hanetration, TRBL

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Nice, unpretentious and skewed electronic music from Marta aka mar, in the shape and form of a distant feeling of being disconnected but at the same time warmth and comfort, with “who?” she conveys a sense of aesthetically fulfilled beauty in terms of music – and an uneasiness that lingers throughout – you’re always unsure and on the edge, as you’re caressed by whoever you think about right now.

Somewhat nostalgic, a big chunk of unorthodox but well-produced electronica aligned with stiff beats – and a sweet compromise together with non-electronic music. There’s sincerity to the music and not the usual poseur trapped within their confinements of wanting to be “outside the box”, and this is what separates mar from other projects that might sound like this, though being as young as she is – only 23 – makes it more impressive and you should take time out of your day, evening or night to listen to this.

You can stream her song “who?” down below, via Soundcloud. Hopefully we’ll hear more from her in the future, it would be intriguing if she accentuated her own vocals and made that a prime focus, it would enhance the overall sound and definitely pit her against the more well-versed people within experimental electronica, as she’s talented.

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The one-man show I truly admire is Hanetration, his work ethic when it comes to music surpasses many musicians, and he carefully hones his craft to get better and better at it – so with “Ancients EP” – he delves deeper into the different elements: Water, Fire, Air, Earth and Aether. It encompasses each element beautifully and it sounds just like what you would expect from the name, an atmosphere which keeps you in and gets you out of your mind as quickly as possible.

There is something otherworldly to his music, which is obvious for anyone who’s listened to this first releases. What we’re looking for in this is something that keeps it all together, and in that he’s succeeded – as his earlier releases tended to be inspired by all and nothing at the same time – a whirlwind of creative outputs, now distilled into a more headstrong, ambitious image of himself and his music.

It is not something one would listen to regularly, but it is soothing in a way and calms your nerves. We’re blessed to have such a wide array of different influences peeking through, making themselves noticed through small cracks in the layers of each of the songs, our favorite being the constantly pulsating song “Air“. You can listen to his latest EP down below.

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Now time for some intensity, with TRBL and the release “Sleep Inducer“, you get pumping techno, industrial and seriously nostalgic rave sounds all in one. Even though it is close to being a gimmick, there’s a certain vibe to it that separates it from being a full-frontal assault and a clone, which can be hinted in the carefully placed synthesizer stabs here and there, and the breakdowns which slowly turns things on their head.

Perplexed” is one of our favorite songs, a fast-paced beast of a song that is so acidic you’d have to turn up in a Hazmat suit even to be able to dance to this – bordering happy hardcore territory – yet keeping the trance and rave atmosphere intact, without going overboard with the influences. What’s great about the first track, the title track “Sleep Inducer“, is that it reflects a lot on the more sinister themes that can be put into techno, there’s a darker vibe to it, maybe not as hardcore as the other tracks – but something is lurking down below.

Simply put – this is something you should get your hands on, despite only being in a digital format. It is well-produced and carries everything on its own, despite being only three tracks – though all are different variations of the same theme, derived from different times and compiled into three sections – techno with industrial overtones, techno/trance with rave overtones – and a more psychedelic acid techno experience. Listen to it in full down below.

 

Review: The Bug vs Earth – Concrete Desert

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This is one of the first times I’ve taken a good look at a bigger artist and wanted to review what they’ve released. I found the concept worthy of investigation track-by-track, since the whole theme surrounding it is alluring. The aesthetics are interesting and it feels worthy to delve into deeper and see what can be found or what can not be found. I am now about to dissect this release. It clocks in at around 90 minutes – making it around an hour and a half long.

City Of Fallen Angels” is a dreamy but dreary experience. Stating what the title is isn’t enough to describe how the song is. Conceptually it makes perfect sense why it is titled that way – as it infects the overall sound as well. Experimental electronica seep through the headphones and the barren landscape appears ahead of you. The atmosphere is such that it represents that and it takes you from tumbleweed and calmness into the stormy heart of a city. As you come further into the song it charges up for a second and then unleashes the noisyness which is normally reserved for industrial music, coupling it with laidback electronica – messing up your points of reference and as it progresses you’re stunned by the intensity of it. The soundscape is bombastic and doesn’t hold back, but comes in with assertive ease. Lulling you into submission.

Gasoline” is eerie. Keeping the listener at bay while he awaits what happens around the corner. Nothing. Then, suddenly, a slow rhythm brings out the melody and adds to that a solid baseline that is strung out by an electric guitar. Even though it remains in the solid rhythmics that it started with, it warps you into different ones that make you wonder if you’ve lost your mind or not. Layer upon layer of mighty instruments that figuratively catch on fire as he pours on more gasoline. Still, even though it broods primitive melodies and an unorthodox soundscape – it fades out the way it faded in. Nothing catches on in this track but it manages to hold a special kind of craftiness that make it broad and intense under the surface anyway. No need for it to give off a spark.

Agoraphobia” – if you weren’t to begin with, maybe this murky and spaced out song will make you experience the phobia. What feels like the development of a smashing song goes out of its own way to create weird melodies within the melodies and rhythms in the rhythm. The amplified sound of the rambunctious noise that is created by the baseline – or what at least seems to have been created from it – is suddenly paired with riffs that would make you feel a transgression from electronica to non-electronic music is happening. That, however, never happens. I’m not too sure about whether to feel positive or negative about this song, but I’m impressed about how the seemingly out-of-motion melodies later in bring out the experimentalism in its purest form. It is odd, it is weird, it is intimidating to a degree – just to fade out like the other ones have.

Here’s a grime-infused track, “Snakes Vs Rats“, that gathers the best out of that genre and ignore the vocals. They create a sort of underground opera-like electronic music together with the grime-beats. Dissecting the genre for what it is good for and creating a pleasantly huge sound. The most solid rhythm combined with the most forward-thinking of synthesizer sweeps – a glance into the futuristic world as imagined a decade ago – almost bordering to one of the great soundtracks accompanying sci-fis of the 1980’s. The sound portrayed is not an idealistic one, it is a rather bleak non-picturesque and alarming narrative that is being pushed with the song. Somewhere we might be, where we don’t want to be – stuck in the middle, nowhere out, control is absolute.

Broke” is minimalistic to the core. What drives it is a few sounds here and there, well-placed beautiful synthesizers and a claustrophobic atmosphere. A cry for help. Symptomatic of the sound so far is that it relies heavily on the baseline, which helps it progress throughout the soundscape in a great way. Where there is no rhythm, one have to create it in between the noisy and deconstructed melodies that are repetetively churned out – as the outdrawn riffs play a vital role in keeping the maniacal atmosphere livid. There is something about the song that draws on what solid ground The Bug (and Earth) create everything. It is immersive and too real.

From the beginning, “American Dream” is a piece of work just seconds in. Unfortunately everyhing looses its meaning after the monstrous opening. Maybe that is just the way it is supposed to be, as it is certainly not a portrayal of the american dream in any positive way at all. But it by now only feels like an empty statement, having heard the other songs that contain something more then just the formulaic approach he has in this one. It’s good how he draws from his earlier creations and put it into a whole, synchronized experience. What’s bad is that it feels like one has already been here, listened through it and discarded it on the way. Sure, the attention to detail is very ambitious, but it in the end becomes just an outdrawn piece of ambient music that do no justice at all.

Don’t Walk These Streets” hits you over the head and immerse you into a gruesome world. Blindfolded, struck repeatedly by the knife-sharp rhythms and the playful melody of the piano, the message of the song becomes apparent. It is violent in its nature but you don’t have to fear anything, listening to it. You’re far away from the emotions itself – it is like you’ve detached from them and become a part of this message. They marvelously craft something you want to listen to repeatedly, expanding the song every step of the way to make it even more enchanting. The depths of the synthesizers and the crassness of the beats are not temporary – they exist there to give meaning to the soundscape. A very well-rounded song all-in-all.

Other Side of the World” gives off a meditative feeling. After you’ve been entangled into the music – a basedrum hits and catches you off-guard. Every single part of the song has some kind of magnificent tone to it. The different facets stand and fall together, nothing can be separated or it will knock the rhythm and melodies away from one another. As simple as the song might seem, it is very addictive. Here’s a perfect transgression from different genres and what it lacks in rhythm it makes up for in melody and structure.

Hell A” is too hip-hop for me. A genre that is not of my liking at all. If that kind of rhythm and those beats have been reserved for something else – it would be fine. Had it been stripped from the atmosphere and replaced with a better rhythm, it would’ve been a glorious listening as the dark synthesizers come in, sweeping the floor with everything else. It becomes a very energetic song that doesn’t stray away from the better aspects of his music. Without that edge and vibe to it – it would’ve been a lost cause and nothing worthy to listen to at all. It is good that he at least keeps that in but he should’ve left more out this time – in terms of beats.

The title-trackConcrete Desert” is a phenomenal ride from curiosity and into the bleakness of the human soul itself. Right from the start you’re immersed into his world, you’re taking part of what he has created and he leaves no ends open, instead of thinking, one seems to be in need of visualising the music – it really gives off an audio-visual experience that is on the next level. After some of the previous songs it wouldn’t seem possible but he manages to create the narrative, spin it into the conciousness of the listener and give meaning to the instrumentation in more ways than just the musical. Which is good, since this song should be the summary and epitome of what this album is about.

Dog ft JK Flesh” is the resounding adaptation of one of the other songs from this release. He manages to add a whole other sound to it than The Bug and Earth could do. It becomes much angrier, more cheeky. When they had to choose a vocalist, nobody could fit the bill more perfectly – this simply cannot be unheard and fits too perfectly. Same can be said about “Pray ft JK Flesh” – here JK Flesh is allowed to be as expressive as possible through his powerful vocals. After listening this far in it is nice to have this addition in the release becomes it helps it become more vital instead of rehashing everything over again – instead creating something new of it, even more intimidating.

Nothing more can be said about this album other then that “Another Planet” is the perfect outro. Easy to listen to and it makes you yearn for more of this kind of music. When you think about it, the album is solid and pretty good despite its faults. I suggest you get it from Ninja Tune (or The Bug vs Earth themselves) in physical form, instead of digital. Though you might want to listen through it a couple of times before, it still is a good headphone experience. Stream the whole album down below.

Exclusive Premiere: DYN & Bleib Modern – Live Split EP (A-Side – DYN)

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Black Verb Records is a new collaborator and have granted us access to their latest release, namely “Live Split EP” – an EP recorded live at Badehaus in Berlin on the 14th of May – split between DYN and Bleib Modern. We’ve been allowed to showcase the a-side of this release, which features the music of DYN, a psychedelic and shoegazy adventure between insanity and sanity. Opposites attract, they say.

You can listen to it here exclusively on Repartiseraren before release. This split will be released on the 22nd of June and you can pre-order it over at Black Verb Records. You’re in for some really psychedelic tunes, in an alternative way. Stream it in whole down below and find the tracklist as well.

Tracklist:

1. Two Times
2. Day In Life
3. Just A Little Bit
4. I Can Handle This
5. Love Of Mine

 

Premiär: Æmɨt teaser, spelning på Under Bron den 9/3

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Under hemlighetsfullhetens fana, nåja, åtminstone i ljudväg – har Æmɨt skapats – sprungen ur eller åtminstone inspirerade av uråldrig Egyptisk mytologi (läs: Ammit), och med fanbärarna Jonas Fredriksson (ALVAR), Erik Söderberg (Kinder aus Asbest) och Jimmy Svensson (Yabibo Hazurfa/Slusk), så blir deras gemensamma insats monumental på enbart tre minuter. Det de levererar är motståndskraftig industriell techno med fokus på en trollbindande slags atmosfärisk industriell musik, där mystiska syntslingor drabbar samman med rungande bastrummor – som blir en hetlevrad men återhållsam kombination. Det måste påpekas att det förmodligen är såhär det skulle låta när dessa män låter sina alter ego formas till ett – på pricken.

Musiken har en trollbindande rytm och en säregen karaktär. Ljudlandskapet har en röd tråd man kan hänga med i och den är väldigt dansvänlig. Estetiken är mörk som den borde vara, vilket ger en sammanhängande känsla i sig då det även påminner en om att detta gemensamma projekt drar i flera trådar samtidigt – eftersom att man lyckas vara både musikaliskt och estetiskt tilltalande – detta hade varit något som hade kunnat släppas på Beläten om den etiketten fortfarande hade varit i bruk. Rent produktionsmässigt är det ingenting som fallerar heller, alla små nyanser som bidrar till musikens helhet kan skönjas. Från minsta underliggande slaginstrument till knastret och bruset som understödjer det atmosfäriska och brutalt undersköna.

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På torsdag i nästa vecka intar de scenen på Under Bron i Stockholm (Skanstull, gratis entré) (ALVAR presenterar) med sin första livespelning någonsin, tillsammans med en utvald skara av artister och DJ’s. Mellan 17:00 och 03:00 så kan man även se Celldöd och Dissociō Modus Trāns live – medan de som DJ:ar kommer att vara Mattias Anger (Complete Control Productions, Kollaps Records) och Daniel Jonasson (Covenant, S.A.W.).

Man kan hittills bara lyssna till ett smakprov av vad som komma skall, men det som ni kommer att få höra kommer att sätta sig i hjärnbarken omgående – vilket lindrar ens begär för fullständiga låtar, någorlunda. Lyssna här nedanför via Soundcloud.

Exclusive Premiere: Ausramp – Third Dimension Diploma

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Bringing back the oldstyle seems to be in fashion nowadays. Everything from retrofuturism to old formats like VHS – are embedded into an artists embroidery. Not to mention how the decadence of the 1980’s seems to have hit a peak, there’s also people whom are playing around with techno. You probably know the sound of the 808’s, the old-school vibes that were originally gathered from Detroit, Michigan. When that was the place to be – it still can be. There’s a man whose work you might recognize when you hear ‘Members Of The House’, the more obscure ‘Unit 2’ – or simply his full name Nicholas Bernard Marks — shortened to “Niko Marks”. He’s teamed up with Robert Des Iles, a rather passionate southern European man whose slick grooves are enhanced by the presence of Mr. Niko. Well, it’s not really that mysterious, but I would like to keep it a secret. Robert Des Iles is really a pseudonym but I will not reveal who he might be.

The thing is, Niko and Robert are now a duo called Ausramp. Yes, it sounds fascinatingly German but at the same time they keep the Americana in it by including “ramp“. Precisely the name a techno-project that goes back to its roots and includes a swing of electrofunk, should have. Their debut-release which features three songs is due to be released in two weeks and I’ve gotten my hands on one of the songs from this release. It’s a self-titled release and the track is called “Third Dimension Diploma“. They bring out the best when they return to the oldstyle of techno, adding certain aspects that might not traditionally have been it. But there’s a lot of legs swinging to the left and the right when listening to it, the rhythm is simple but the groove is out of hand. When the melodies strike in, there’s not much to do but to dance to the beat – classic stylee. No, I’m not that clichéd so you’ll have to choose what to do, but I promise that it’s a catchy track. Stream it exclusively on Repartiseraren, down below. It will be released on Kraftjerkz as their eighteenth release, in two weeks.