Review: Baldruin – Biotische Verwitterung

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Johannes Schebler and his main project, Baldruin, is not a novice by any means. Having four albums solo and countless split-albums, this project is not just interesting in that regard – but also because of the aesthetics he includes with his music. It surely marks the experimentalism that can be found in his music as well, in a good way. Oftentime the artists and bands whom go under that banner don’t really make it this well aesthetically. It is pleasant to look at. So, in regards to this album which is his fifth release, it is intriguing to find out that Black Horizons, Aetheric Records and Cloister Recordings US made it possible for release on vinyl – all three labels represent good artistry.

The release itself clocks in at around forty minutes in total. What is interesting about the album itself is that it follows his – since long – short adaptation of tribalistic ambient industrial music. Let’s head into this.

Opfergabe” gets straight to the point, through a muffled and calm atmosphere at first – descending upon the listener with a concrete setting in which this song turns into somewhat of a hymn. There are vocal representations that make it alluring, always accompanied by a steady and not too harsh rhythm – continually shifting the atmosphere around from being rambunctious to softening up and disappearing out of sight. An enjoyable slab of industrialized ambient.

Ins Jenseits” is definently more percussive. Fast, tribalistic drumming, an ever increasing heartbeat that go with the rhythm – to the disturbing voice of a child, amidst tribal chanting. It feels like there’s a part of someone’s life being played in reverse, at the same time as the sound gets more and more intimidating. A father, having lost something into the eternal void, having lost much of his life – it feels like it has been all for nothing. Everything was meant to turn out good but instead turned into a complete horror story.

Das Vergessene Grab” is meditative – but also more retrofuturistic – there are synthesizers that play a bigger part in the music itself. Concentrating more on the ambient landscape. There’s something mysterious about the song, as the sweeps on the synth in combination with the ceremonial percussion become an interlude to the next song – “Im Auge des Sturms” – which almost completely strips the atmosphere of the nostalgic moments that could be felt previously. Even though it feels like a continuation, there is more of a focus on the rhythm of the song rather then the unfathomable reach of the bombastic synthesizers. It focuses a lot more on simpler melodies, there’s one which is with the listener up until the end of the song – slowly evaporating into monotone noise.

Wächter” is from the beginning a sample-based cliché. Until the marvelous synthesizer rings out with an emotional melody. It is joined with the sudden barks of a dog, screeching sounds and a troublesome, intensive melody that pushes the atmosphere further – as if something out of a 80’s/90’s futuristic action flick. The steady rhythm of the massive synthesizer is what makes this song intense – and enthralling from the first tone to the last one.

Hydra“, the next song and the sixth one on this release delves into the same character of the first songs. It kind of becomes annoying with the tribalistic elements at times but it is saved by the chanting of a woman, in german of course, adding a sinister touch which gives the song a completely different edge in the end. The attention to detail of every sound in this song is immaculate. Of all the songs so far – this one is designed the best as it brings out the wondrous nature of each sound – as well as the more horrific one(s).

Der Puppenspieler” is too simple, but the added samples make it far more interesting then it should’ve been in the first place. It is an ode to the more emotional side of Baldruin – the positive, nostalgic, tearjerking side of his music. Even though the experimentalism of it is overwhelming at times and the atonal side of it becomes a little too much – Johannes really shows how nice industrial music, with ambient foreground, can be when synthesizers are utilized properly.

Zone 77” is really captivating. You really feel how complex the music is and how hard it must’ve been to fit the off-beat rhythm to the atmosphere. Pads of majestic sound is laid upon the song with much care. As rough as it sounds, there’s also something delicate about it. You’re hypnotized by the clash of harshness against the soft, picturesque landscape it portrays. How is it even possible to create anything like this? There’s a minimalism and a maximalism. Everything is oxymoronic about it but yet impressively joined together.

Raum ohne Sicht” is psychotic. The intro is off-putting. It feels like a warning, it conveys feelings of utter disgust. Rarely have I ever shrugged away from a song that is so well made, but in this case it is just too disturbing to listen to in full. Here’s a song that would fit well to any story that includes the most horrible of human nature. “Falsche Fährte” is really beautiful and the complete opposite. Even though much of the rhythm isn’t that interesting to begin with, the atmosphere becomes increasingly intense and the more you hear beautifully laden female vocals, the more of a sense of pride is instilled within. The pride of knowing that someone could construct something this beautiful and convey these feelings. A song you really shouldn’t skip.

Panik in der Fabrik” is really what the name says it is. Panic in the factory. In the beginning of it there’s a certain electronic body music influence that can be heard, but as it transgresses more into sample-based industrial music – the more disturbing it gets. There’s a certain two-facedness when it comes to the music on this album and Baldruin knows perfectly well how to pair it up musically. The contrasts are so knife-sharp that it is frightening. “ZüngeInde Flamme” seems to build off all the recent songs, transcending into something that feels very clear and represents the different characteristics perfectly. Subconciously, it is instilling a feeling of wanting more of the music as if the story progresses the further in you get. Even though there might not even be one to begin with.

Fortgeschlichen” feels like an outro, even though there still are two songs left to be heard and dissected. It is dreamy, cosmic and far away – out of your own reach. It feels like you’re daydreaming and accessing remote locations, where men have never been before. A dreary landscape of sound is pumped up with the occassional pumping beats, noisy transmissions and overall increasingly experimental song. Though in the end it just fades away, bleakly. “Fund im Laub” is assembling the lost parts and making it into a behemoth of sound, as it sprinkles darkness around itself on the assembly line. Not the most intriguing song on the release so far, but the attention to detail for each sound is – as for some other particular songs – fantastic, to say the least.

Vom Ende” is the real outro. It’s funny how it is the longest song on the whole release as well. Hopefully this more synthesizer-driven music is how his next release will progress in the future. One of the main strengths of this album, even though it is scarcely represented, is his way of handling the synthesizers and creating the most attentive songs of the release all-in-all. It went from a totally freaked out tribalistic ambient release to a futuristic synth venture and then away into screeching industrial music.

One can understand how this album would be of interest. He has more strengths then weaknesses. The whole album is of interest even though parts of it contain utterly disturbing portrayals of the human race as such – but in the end delivers a story which is created in your own mind while listening. It evokes something more then just feelings, it is cohesive and experimental at the same time, never loosing to one or the other. Buy the album from Baldruin himself, Black Horizons, Aetheric Records, or Cloister Recordings US. Listen to it digitally in its entirety down below.

 

Exclusive Premiere: Hadewych – Riss

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From darkened shamanistic rituals in pre-medieval ages, to the futuristic hopefulness of ritual ambient. Somewhere in between that and if you slice a big portion out of it, you’ll find avant-garde to be a part of their repertoire. Hadewych is just that, somewhere in between the looming avant-gardist ritual ambient, but with undertones of primal rock’n’roll with metal. When their debut-album emerged back in 2007, they were more concentrated on neo-folk then anything else. Somehow, they combined the efforts of their industrialist past maxi-single “Ende” from 2004 with the urge for something new in 2014. Therefore the release I’m about to talk about now have some roots found within it that can be hinted back to their latest release up to date, called “Ēoh” which featured a mix of old rehearsals to proper new tracks. It’s a perfect transition to what’s to be called “Nu“, where they break their old bonds and move forward into the sound which they’ve concocted over the years. It has somehow always been present in one way or another, but simply not been formulated good enough to have been harnessed earlier. Black Horizons is the label they’ve set out to be a part of with their forthcoming release, as it is being put out on a limited cassette by that label. With clever signatures like Hodiamont, Jongen, Scramasax and Lucia. M Peter Nÿland or Nÿland II as he is credited as on “Ēoh” – have the world at their feet. Some of these members have also contributed to a track on the acclaimed compilation “The Totality Of Death” by Trepaneringsritualen (Thomas Ekelund). So no wonder if any of their influences might’ve been caught up from Thomas Ekelund. Peter Nÿland is also a part of the mysterial duo Distel, which have also garnered their following with releases as “Puur” and “Ultra2012“.

Now when they’re almost ready to be put out on Black Horizons on the 79th release on that label, things looked bright for Repartiseraren. I got the opportunity to pick a track from this three-tracked release, whereas it so happened that I chose the dark side. With that I mean the atmosphere of this track is so baseless yet fluid, as it is backed up with organic instrumentation which is not electronic to the least, or so it seems. A gloomy landscape which is complemented by the whispering of Peter Nÿland and his authoritarian voice. Since it’s featured on the B-Side of this cassette (C18), there’s a notable difference from this one and the other tracks – even though it can be contested that they’re dark too. But this is something difference. The slow build from a drone-ish landscape moving forward with a complex rhythm that suddenly slides through the landscape at a macabre speed – not to be confused with tempo – is enough to love it to your heart’s delight. You can find virtually every piece of equipment and more than that with this track. Everything from classical instruments to different musical instrument you might not find anywhere else. Or not utilized as good. As the wind is breaking through the landscape of sound, I gratefully present to you an exclusive track called “Riss“, a track that will take you into a whole different mood and also play with your sense of belonging. Listen to it exclusively down below and buy it from Black Horizons when it comes out.

Review: Sutekh Hexen – Monument Of Decay

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They have been welcomed into my consciousness after a while. Sutekh Hexen, they call themselves. Constituting the best of two worlds, combining the essence of black metal – with droniness all entangled into the noisy fervor of noise itself. Wander into the esoteric, the blackness and the void between heaven and earth. A lone wind whispering, a mountain to be climbed until darkness is met on the other side. In all honesty, there might’ve been some confusion on my side regarding this group. But it is all cleared out now, and I anticipated this release a while ago, whilst Beläten brought it out from his Nordic chamber – together with a simultaneous release by Black Horizons. Just to make things clear; we’re focusing on the Beläten-released cassettes. Obviously, Invisible Guy was too unimportant in the first place, as we gained nothing in the lottery that is premieres. With that in mind, it will not affect the review as such. Honesty is our approach, and it will ultimately be our strength. Note that Patricia Cram‘s (editor of Vial Magazine) photography is the artwork. The mastering was done by James Plotkin.

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