Review: Identity Theft – Reconnaissance

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Some things change while other things remain the same. The developmental process of Identity Theft have taken some time to get used to, but on his latest endeavor he doesn’t have any qualms with getting rid of the chains of the past – embracing the future and what it holds for him and his project.

Identity Theft is the solo-project of Michael Buchanan, spanning multiple years of experience in other projects and with electronic music in general, and he was kind enough to send me the physical edition of his fifth proper solo-album, which was released in November of 2017 by Treue Um Treue.

With the assistance of Mara Barenbaum (of Group Rhoda / Max + Mara) on three tracks, plus one remix by Arktaion of one of the tracks on this release, this can be considered to be a project mounted by himself, only utilizing the experience of others to enhance it further. I’m thankful that he sent me this physical release for me to share with you, my thoughts on the release in full, a track-by-track in-depth review that has taken a longer time to finish then originally intended.

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The aesthetic aspect of Reconnaissance

When I view the cover from afar, it seems so distant aesthetically that I just want to get a magnifying glass to see what it is that is revealed on the dark exterior of the cover. It is almost an 1980’s-esque vibe that it brings in terms of color, even though it is a more darker and less screechy one that is otherwise found in movies from that era.

There is a certain distance from itself, it is remote and it fits the theme of the process in which the album itself was written – three days of complete isolation from civilization. Even though at first glance the cover might not be something special, it conveys an eerie meaning that in my opinion goes lost within the urbanized centers of the city – there’s something else then you out there, something bigger and more meaningful, something that should be preserved.

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 The musical aspect of Reconnaissance

If you’ve listened to any of Mara Barenbaum’s music, especially Group Rhoda, it becomes clear that their style of music mix very well with Identity Theft’s, the introductory in “Reconnaissance Peak” which is the first song – is at the same time as it is sincere, very forthright about its existence – proclaiming proudly that “I am here, we’re in the moment, but we’re a presence to be reckoned with“. Additional rhythms are perfectly timed and blend in to the general atmosphere, which is forever changing.

Once you let it slip, it will seep out through the rest of the components that build up the songs, from a more hands-on approach to music making into a thoughtful display of ambitiously layered synthesizers that take off into nothingness. You feel so small when you listen to this, it is so graciously laden that once it slips through the cracks of your pathetic being – you just want to hear more of it, playing it over and over again.

Eagle’s Peak” is almost double in length, and has a more subtle tone to it. Even though it can be felt to be much of the same, just in a different pace, it is even more serene and sincere as it plays on the simple notes that go from barely noticeable to a resounding plethora of different synthesizers layered perfectly upon one another – a click away from generating a monstrosity – you feel as if it is about to leap straight into you.

Some of it is too angelic to even fit in, being taken out throughout the back-door by the more sinister themed atmospheres that lurk nearby. Once you feel at ease you get caught off-guard by a sudden blast of noise, it is meant to be enjoyed but it is difficult to be completely on your guard as it is not a song that is foreseeable – you cannot simply categorize it and be aware of all the elements, it is not such a song that leaves you with no lasting impression – it grasps you gently and takes you into it.

It symbolizes perfectly the name it was given, “Eagle’s Peak” is a summary of what you could expect, but you will not know before you enter.

Last Chance Creek” is on the other hand something completely different in terms of atmosphere, it is much more urgent in tone and you get thrown into the mixture directly by the loud base-drum, the soothing percussion and the grandiose synthesizers that blend it into perfect synthesizer-based music that would be a fitting beginning of a movie or the end of the same.

It is by far the most beautiful song on the album yet, and there are many contenders for that throne – but here’s where the king enters and the queen become one. A futuristic blip on a radar that shouldn’t be ignored, an unfathomably great conversion of straight-forward electronic music and the ambiance which is so often ignored – Identity Theft manages to keep control of everything and never slip up.

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My Sentence” is more of an intermission, a placeholder-song that is not bad but it is not equally as great as the other tracks I’ve listened to. There is a place for these kinds of songs on albums, so even though the judgment is quick to come, there’s a certain quirkiness to the sound that can’t be missed out on. You can’t really add much more to the description of this song, it is there but it does not evoke anything, it pumps you up for another song.

Blood Moon” is the next song, it evokes a feeling of hope and that you’re about to be redeemed. There is an underlying sense of belonging, you feel like you’re a part of the atmosphere as you childishly gaze upon the stars and point your finger as to were you’d want to go – the different emotions that are involved range from those described, to some kind of sorrow – that you at the moment don’t have anything of that.

You’re desperate to find a place, but this calms your nerves and make you forget about it for a moment or two, maybe some kind of nostalgic memory is invoked as you travel into the electronic realm, a progressive dream that becomes more and more of a real, tangible kind of matter that you can actually grasp physically and mentally. An ode to the moon, the one that can affect our moods.

What’s coming next is about to stun me, make me fall off my high horses and into the arms of you – whoever is the next to be embraced, to enter my life. The stunningly creative way of making an even more emotionally touching song is just the sheer brilliance of Michael Buchanan, simply marvelous as “Misanthropocene” goes from the meager time it has to be played – into an extended form of electronically charged synthesizer-bliss of a landscape of sound, covering all bases.

How can the sound be so bold? Yet so refreshing, calm and sensitive? There’s a warmth to it but a stone cold outlook in atmosphere of sound, as you float on by, passing your own self by without any reflection – you’re taken aback by the sound as it drives you on, as the motivation of doing rather then listening becomes painfully obvious. At the same time you want to sit still, you want to experience and move with the sound.

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The Unreliable Narrator” is a more unhinged song that move to the left and the right, from the center and to the top, everywhere but within a controlled manner like the last song. Just like the title suggests, it is a more chaotic song with a gloomy mood that fits perfectly between the casual intermission delivered in “My Sentence” and “Blood Moon“.

Though much more repetitive then other songs on this album, there is some kind of progression that can be felt throughout the whole song, the rhythm isn’t that much of an interesting thing – but it hearkens back to older days of Identity Theft – which is reminiscent of some of his first material.

Soft Alibi” is the next one, one of the more experimentally oriented songs on the album so far, clashing between the normal kind of bombastic maximality that virtually all of the songs so far have been attached to, into a monotonous but minimalistic experience that is only alluding to bombastic vibes through the rhythm – which is unusual if you’re trying to create an atmosphere on it alone.

The rhythm is what makes the song enjoyable on itself, but it is clear that it is nowhere near the same infective nature as the more grandiose songs he’s been churning out after one another earlier on the album.

I don’t know what to make of “Lost Frontier“, whether to see it as a genial move away from the more obvious tracks on the album itself, but the baseline packs a real punch and is what drives everything forward in the song itself – after a while it flips out into something out of the ordinary, which is what one can appreciate when listening to this kind of music – the controlled inventiveness of the past songs – and the chaotic nature of the shorter songs.

It latches on well to the next song “Leave No Trace“, which spins from virtually a stale and non-atmospheric mess into a solid, emotive gargantuan that is just waiting to devour you as a whole – the roundness of the synthesizers become more clear the more it develops, as the more sharp nature of the sound in the beginning fades into a whirlwind of magnificent electronica.

The last song, “Prosopagnosia” is not only an outro, it hopefully shows the way to what can be expected from future releases. It is a well-needed break from the more experimental vibes that were delivered in the latter part of the album, it is a firm and shakable landscape of sound that is predictable in its nature but never lets you down. You know what you are getting and you can expect what is around the corner, but it leaves much to be fantasized about.

I don’t consider the remix itself to be the last song, but we’re taking it last as it is a track-by-track review which goes from point A to point B. “Last Chance Creek (Arktaion Remix)” adds a rougher edge to “Last Chance Creek” which couldn’t be felt there, it hypnotizes in a whole different manner then what the original song did, it is crashed into different pieces making it sound like a crossover between the electronica of Identity Theft, spliced into the erratic mood of IDM music.

It is not a bad remix actually, but it makes you wonder what kind of remixes could be done on the other tracks? Maybe there should be a release which features some of the tracks remixed by different artists, that would be a really nice offshoot from the original release itself.

This album is a must-have if you’re interested in the better domains of electronic music, the parts that have not yet been infected by ridiculous clichés. It is a must-have physically for any collector, so I am proud to be in the possession of the review-copy of this album. You should get it yourself, there are only five copies left, you can find it down below.

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Listen: Giant Swan, Rivière de Corps, Luminance, and V/A – Spänningen Band II

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We’ve had quite a run for many years, the machinery have worked as intended but sometimes they need to be carefully restored to their former glory once again. We have no excuses to not post anything, it is just that the current musical climate is so lethargic – either waddle through a pool of mud – or directly finding the gems you’ve sought out for so long.

Running your own label takes time, and having a full-time job hinders the crew from working on this site at all times. The intention for the future is to update more frequently, the ideal would be once or twice a day – but time needs to be portioned up for this to work – which is difficult to say the least.

If you haven’t checked our label out yet, here’s some shameless self-promotion, visit our bandcamp-page and support us: https://repartiseraren.bandcamp.com/

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It’s been a long time since anything from Mannequin Records was featured on this webzine, we’ve not really been keeping up with what they’ve been doing – but they’ve released quite a number of records since then.

The latest of their releases is “High Waisted“, by a Bristol-based duo Giant Swan, their second EP in their discography and a really good mixture of ominous industrial music that have an outstretched hand into more obfuscated music like rhythmic noise.

It is too complicated in rhythm to be equated with regular techno, even though some of the settings and moods suggest otherwise. Maybe industrial or hard techno would share more similarity with the genrebending they’re doing in this maddening approach. “The Rest Of His Voice” is easily the best song on the whole record, as it captures their whole essence on this EP, furiously stomping into your eardrums without any hesitation.

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Maybe this french one-man outfit, Rivière de Corps have drawn a lot of influence from Pure Ground? A lot of the material is reminiscent of the earlier outputs of that duo. Both aesthetically and musically, a lot of it sounds alike, some of the songs are alright on this release but other songs like “retour du dieu plutonium” should’ve had more thought put into them.

Even though a lot of songs on this release needs a few adjustments here and there, the general theme of the record and the aesthetic aspects of the release as a whole make it better. With the song “échec critique” they reach a high point of the release itself, if only all the other songs had the same standard, it would be an even better release.

In general, it is satisfying to listen to and it explores a lot of themes and moods that don’t need that much more additional presentation. If you like the music, consider buying a cassette directly from the bandcamp of Vague à l’Âme, and listen to the release in whole down below.

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We’ve covered Luminance some time way back when, but now they’re released a single, a different version of the song “Martyr” (from The Cold Rush), which is more mystical in its approach and a calmer version, titled “Martyr” (Version Longue). The only reason for us to cover a single, is basically because this is a great version that stands on its own and challenges the original version.

This is the point of music, to exponentially go in different directions and instead of stagnating it evolves in manners that might be unknown to the listener until he or she hears it. Could we all agree that french lyrics, when done properly, adequately enhances music and takes it into a whole other dimension? It adds a perfectly great mysterious undertone which is desperately needed in the first minute of this song.

Listen to it down below and give them some money if you like it.

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When I boast about Sweden, I boast about these kinds of compilations. We’re truly great at discovering obscure artists and groups, and we’re even better at showcasing them in equally as obscure compilations. It haven’t been on our horizons, but since we heard about Yta Recordings, we felt we needed to give them some coverage somehow.

Spänningen Band II” is the second compilation in a series, coming in strong with a hard-hitting claustrophobic track by Adore that gently shove in hints of a compact, ambitious dreary landscape of sound that is equal to none. Most of these artists and groups are unknown to us, but when you pass through the quirky repetitive acid mixture that is hidden between Nima Khak and Lrh, a more urgent response is felt within the song by United Hive Mind Of Sweden, perfectly igniting the next artist Stilnoct.

We must admit that we find some of these artists hard to listen to, and that is not because of the music itself, but it is because the same boring archetype of techno music is repeated throughout the compilation in ways that are common with these compilations, unfortunately. The music itself is well-produced, there is no question about that – but after Adore dropped “Time Is Anima“, everything else was pale in comparison.

Celldöd graciously ends this compilation with “Du Som Försvann“, maybe it was the start and finish that would keep you listening throughout? If so, it’s a good compromise. Even though some of the music is not really in our ballpark, it is a good enough compilation to recommend because of its aesthetics and that it contains a few really good tracks, and two really great tracks.

Listen to it down below in full and support them by buying the physical cassette of this release.

 

Exclusive: Repartiseraren announces; Celldöd added to Kalabalik på Tyrolen 2018 line-up!

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We’re glad to be collaborating with Kalabalik på Tyrolen before the festival starts this year, and announce that Celldöd will be performing live on this year’s edition of Kalabalik på Tyrolen 2018 – which takes place in the idyllic setting of Tyrolen between the 24th and 25th of August this year – in a classic ‘folk park’ with a charming 1960’s aesthetic – as it have been for as long as it has been arranged.

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Celldöd is the newest project of Anders Karlsson (Severe Illusion, The Pain Machinery, Vargdöd, et cetera), and he’s come a long way musically since having one of his tracks released on the first Ljudkalendern compilation on Repartiseraren back in 2015, and the second one in 2016. With releases on his own label Brutal Disciplin, Smashing Tapes Records, Femur, Medical Records LLC, and the latest one being “KESS07” on Kess Kill.

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Ranging all the way from ambitious electronic body music, to acid techno in a new outfit mixed in with primitive minimal electronics, oozing of industrial vibes in a post-industrial world – a perfect match for total misanthropy and a knuckle in the skull of the unknowing. His live-performances have been praised for his total control over the ‘meager’ instruments he’s brought with him, being able to execute a perfect showmanship despite his instruments malfunctioning – using it to his advantage, to create a whirlwind of soaring destruction.

He’s performed on Kalabalik på Tyrolen a couple of years ago already, but this one will be on a whole other level, we anticipate at least. It is a must-see performance which you’ll be able to enjoy if you snatch a few tickets, invite your friends and whomever you like or dislike to this festival – it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we at Repartiseraren want to see next year as well – but it all depends on your support.

You can buy either an early bird ticket or an early bird support ticket – to show your appreciation for Sweden’s undoubtedly best alternative music festival. Here’s a link to where you purchase your ticket. Stream the latest release by Celldöd down below, and purchase the vinyl-release from Kess Kill if you like what you hear.

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.

Listen: DECADES / FAILURES, BURA BURA, Soft Riot

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Though the cover is too macabre for our taste, as the once beautiful woman have been thoroughly manipulated into looking as a piece of modern art – which in itself is very distasteful – DECADES / FAILURES musical aspect trumps everything else. As written in the description for the release, this piece of music was mastered in all haste, only using meager methods of recording – such as a blown speaker – all-in-all it adds more then it takes away from the music.

A bed-ridden and sickly vibe transformed into brazen post-punk, with an atmosphere of chords that are simply otherworldly together with the heavily distorted vocals. There’s a hopelessness that can be found in the lyrics and the general mood of each song, especially “Song 5” – but as a closing song it manages to ooze with hope, a light shining through in our darkest moments. Had this been mastered a bit more, or maybe been recorded in a different setting – it quickly would’ve lost its inner message and tone.

Listen to the release in full down below, buy it digitally to support the artist, so this can hopefully be made into a cassette.

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Uncompromising body-music turned into a mish-mash of new beat industrial greatness, Australian outfit BURA BURA manages to catch a depth which is overlooked within electronic body music, as his heavily transformed vocals bounce against the complex percussion in each song. A lot of the songs would fit better in a cinematic setting, but some of them are outright ridiculously great to listen to in some parts, especially “Flex Like Rex“.

Ironically enough, what he manages to pull off best is the neo-noir vibe of post-punk lewdness and electronic body madness – not so much with the more electro and industrial-influenced tracks – a catastrophic mess of blends and meshes that need to be more thoroughly tested for the forthcoming releases. The passages of swirling ambient that takes you into new heights of your own consciousness is frightening at first, but when the beats whirl around your head and you go further down the tunnel, there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it.

The release is available both digitally, and on cassette via Moontown Records. If you’re into it, you can also purchase one of the totebags specifically made for this release. Just follow the link through bandcamp down below.

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Soft Riot have long been one of our favorite artists, as he dabbles with the most comedic aspects of synth-pop music – but manages to keep a straight face through everything – delivering complex and atmospheric synthesizer music – especially in this new release, “The Outsider In The Mirror“. When it comes to the lyrics of some of these songs, he reveals how much talent it takes to create such imaginative lyrical content – whilst keeping the music in tune with everything he utters. It might not be the prettiest voice in the world, but there’s a sinister tone in his voice, there’s a sincerity being delivered with every word.

Waiting For Something Terrible To Happen” is a spastic ambush, a ticking clock of weirdness and anticipation, delivering catchy arpeggios and creative outbursts of heavy, deep electronic vibes. Even though it might not be some of this best releases of all time, it is a more cheerful and less moody vibe to this, a sense of belonging is shown between the lines of tongue-in-cheek lyrical brazenness. We’re eager to hear more of this, even though he’s heading in a very experimental yet freakishly pop-oriented direction.

The release is available for purchase via Possession Records, digitally, on CD, vinyl and cassette. You can purchase it below by following the bandcamp-link, or simply stream until you make your mind up.

Listen: Grand Mal x – Darkness

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Harrowing, eclectic dance music for those who appreciate the esoteric. Grand Mal x surprise us with another release, in companionship with Michael Idehall whose music can be related in one way or another to this project musically, but they deal with the concepts differently. What is most enjoyable when listening to “Darkness” is the complex synthesizers that pin angelic towards demonic – sin against the good – a constant battle between what is right and what is wrong.

Stjärndamm” is our favorite song on this release, with a purposeful barrage of basedrums that hammer into your consciousness, the dreariness of the atmosphere consumes you as it progresses – or regresses. There are some beautiful chords laden from the synthesizer as well, together with second long samplings that pierce through the malevolence of it all – though the concept of it seems beautiful when you utter the title, but the music itself suggests something different.

A thoroughly complacent album, a deep insight to everything that shaped and formed Grand Mal x from before – concentrated into a roller-coaster of emotions, messages and sublimity. There are facets you don’t recognize once you hear it the first time, as in “Black Book” which was co-written with Mattias Ivarsson, a very different song that detaches from the release as a whole, but knits it finely together with “A Star For Everyone” – a song also featured on our own compilation “Volume 2 – It Will Never Be The Same“.

Buy the CD from the Ant-Zen mailorder, or purchase the digital release below while you’re streaming the release anyway.

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.