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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Lyssna: Malmö Nya Dronesällskap, Himlakropp, Iron Pike, The OhNos

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Det ryms alldeles för mycket i underjorden. Egentligen borde det vara helt tomt där nere, men ibland kryper de upp ur avgrunden för att gästa jordelivet. Det första som händer är hos Malmö Nya Dronesällskap, ny musik från någon som förhoppningsvis är Malmöbo på riktigt och inte inflyttad från Stockholm. Jonas från Palmless är i alla fall involverad och vi fick det skickat till oss mejlledes.

Över tretton minuter långa “Det Första Tecknet; Jätten” är ett virrvarr av passande genrer, från ambient och drone till utdragen post-rock. Mystiken ligger som en slöja över ett öde ljudlandskap, ett positivt tecken är att det i denna låt är att majoriteten av det som händer i låten är inte bara utfyllnad för att låten ska bli så lång som möjligt, utan det är väldigt känslobaserat, från vackra lågmälda melodier till kalla, hårda ekande toner som övertar. När allt plötsligt känns så utarmat fylls det ut med bombastiskt slagverk, som gör allt mer fylligt och inte lika tomt.

Samtidigt som det känns väldigt primitivt och tribalistiskt, så öppnar det upp för pånyttfödelsen av drone som är acceptabel att överhuvudtaget lyssna på. De olika texturerna smälter samman på ett nästan ädelt vis, som om det är någon inneboende ömsesidighet. När det ena dör ut följs det av det andra, i ständig utveckling men aldrig invecklat till något oförståeligt och pretentiöst. Verket ackompanjeras av en text skriven av Fredrik Segerfalk i Helsingborg, 2017. Läs texten samtidigt som du lyssnar.

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Denna trio baserade i Malmö, bandet Iron Pike, är något helt nytt för oss. Vi har inte hört talas om dem mer än genom sökfunktionen på bandcamp, men det är via den man hittar allt man tycker om. Nu aktuella med släppet “II” som även kommer att komma på kassett. En makaber blandning av vad som kan angränsa till vild powerviolence, förpackat mitt emellan doom metal och sludge metal. Sångarens vrålande skulle göra sig bra i ett powerviolenceband, så förhoppningarna finns där att ett malmöbaserat sådant kan ta sig ur startgroparna och predika om ämnen tillhörande staden eller länet.

Lyckligtvis skiljer de sig en hel del för vad som är standard i dessa genrer, vilket gör det hela mer intressant. Det är mycket mer fokus på helheten än de individuella delarna, men även deras hänsyn till detaljerna är häpnadsväckande bra. Det är grått, dystert och rått – men emellan allt det där finns det en avgrundsdjup mistantropi som inte kan beskrivas i ord.

Trots att det bara är tre låtar så känns det mer än så, även om längden på dessa är över sex minuter. Skulle mycket väl kunna vara ett mini-album, men det är bara för att det är så njutbart att lyssna på, man kan spela det om och om igen. Föreslår att ni köper den fysiska kassetten så fort den släpps för att stödja deras musik, men tills dess får ni köpa den digitala varianten. Ett kort tillägg på slutet: estetiken är också enastående.

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Nu släpper vi det lokalpatriotiska. Även om det första släppet som Himlakropp gjorde på Jämmerdosa var mer intressant rent tematiskt, och med influenserna – så är det senaste och kommande släppet “Sunnan” även det något att ha. Även om det inte är vår kopp av té så kan vi rekommendera det ändå, men det beror på den musikaliska skickligheten. Allt är väldigt mästerfullt lagt, och lekfullt. Det är nyskapande på flera sätt och den väldigt dominerande ljudbilden som den första låten “Jakarta” har, gör att resten av låtarna även de omgärdas av samma omtanke.

Detta hade med lätthet kunnat vara ett soundtrack till ett spel. Särskilt låten “Kanada” är uppslukande, men det hade varit mer passande om det kunnat vara än mer influerat av låttitelns namn. Dock går det instrumentala inte av för hackor, det är med snabb fart man ger sig ut på en äventyrlig resa och den ständiga rytmen känns som ett tuffande tåg. Tur att vi fick ett mejl från Jämmerdosa som introducerade detta. Omslagsbilden gjord av Max Strand är väldigt passande, som om det var uttänkt från första början vad det skulle bli och vara, innan man ens visste vad det skulle vara för släpp. Lyssna nedanför.

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The Ohnos kontaktade oss i samband med deras släpp på Rundgång Rekords, betitlat “Sounds From The Basement“. Trots att garage rock i allmänhet inte är särskilt intressant rent musikaliskt, så är vissa av de influenser de lånar från andra genrer det som gör deras musik mer lockande. När det kommer till punkigheten så märks det i låttitlarna, även om det även återspeglar sig på andra sätt, tyvärr blir det uttjatat. Att man kan höra de olika instrumenten så klart trots att det är väldigt skramligt i övrigt är positivt. Sångerskan är väldigt skicklig, men det märks tydligast i “Trail Of Entrails“, där kommer popigheten väl till hands och gör allt mer välljudande.

Hade fler av låtarna varit likt den hade man varit såld direkt. Den sammanhängande estetiken när det kommer till omslaget är väldigt tilltalande, och skickligt ritad. Samtidigt som man får både positiva och negativa vibbar av musiken så finns det potential. Förhoppningsvis utvecklar sig musiken i rätt riktning så att den inte blir stel, kliché och likriktad som allt annat tyvärr har en tendens att bli. Dock måste det bli en rekommendation i detta fallet eftersom att allt, sammanfattat är bättre än mycket i samma genrer. Vi hade gett allt för en utveckling av dödsrocksvibbarna man får i vissa av låtarna. Lyssna till deras släpp här nedan och köp vinylen från Rundgång Rekords.

 

 

Review: Canter – Traveller

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Ever since I first heard a song by Canter, their sound have struck me as something unique and out of the regularly mashed out minimal wave, cold wave, dark wave, and synth-pop sound one has gotten used to nowadays. There’s a transgressive notion in their music that descends the genres and picks influences from each one of them. When I saw that TONN Recordings had released a new album by them, I just had to listen through it and do a track-by-track review of it.

What begins as a musical seance, “Deflection” slowly descends into a mixture of industrial and synthesizer-based music. It has a very unorthodox approach as to what track it should be that starts off an album, as this song isn’t very introductory but rather downtempo and experimentally odd. As if they’d walk on the steps of acapella, electronic music and post-punk – simultaneously. Subliminally it is a wicked song that etches onto your brain and have a very disturbing approach in general, vocally.

It very much seems to continue down the trodden path in “Traveller” for the first seconds or so – but instead takes a turn for melodic, surprisingly pop-oriented synth-pop music. They seem to be splintered as a group musically, but it builds on you and it feels like the metaphorical line on which they tread is ever expanding. Especially noticeable are the vocals in this song, how the singer accentuates the last lines in the lyrics and sets the melodies up for a continuum of greatness. Being their first album ever this song gives off a really promising and unique sound in the sense that it is like nothing I’ve heard before, in terms of simplicity but also in terms of ambiguous and ambitiously sounding synthesizer music.

One’s mind is blown when “Metal to Metal” comes on. What an imaginative and stylized type of electronic music they’re capable of making. Melodies upon melodies that are layered sufficiently to create both an overtone of raw energetic music and a mystic undertone. Unfortunately the vocals aren’t that inspiring on the song, but it doesn’t matter as they go well with the sound-scape anyway, so that is just a minor nuisance. It’s a dreamy song, a well-thought out one in terms of synthesizer sweeps, minor stabs and general rhythm. Slowly fading into nothingness one more time, the more you listen to it, the more you’re hooked and can’t stand anything else.

Just to have an upbeat song, titled “Red Heather“, throw em’ into the kind of maniacal but genial type of electronic body music Schwefelgelb handles – if they’d be stripped to the core and devoid of that harsh rhythm, and beats. This is more of a fast-paced electro-punk – at the core melodious darkwave – which goes from that spastic rhythm into a controlled, hard-line maelstrom of punishing emotional electronica. After each song they seem to outdo themselves in terms of musicality, as they play around with the clay in which they mold their wondrous, dreamy but human music.

Now this song I recognize, having had the pleasure of uploading it myself into my compilation titled “Ljudkalendern III” – the song “Same” was first to be featured there. It is more of a ballad, really. Breaking from the shyness of the vocals and maturing together with the uncompromising synth-pop. I notice this might come off as being a bit biased since I’ve released the song myself some time ago, but let it be that – I’m just giving you my honest opinion. The song is great in and of itself and it was well-placed on this release, since it feels like you’re moving to the end – as the album is.

The last song on the release, “Highest Peak“, reminds me a lot of one song from the Person:A-release “Beneath The Grey Line (Sketches)“. They share a lot of attributes at least, but Canter have a more shadowy approach. It is unfortunately one of the least great song on this release. It feels too splintered in and of itself that it only works as an outro, not as a way of bridging the release towards the end and making you (the listener) want more, or at least a forthcoming second album. Even though it fails in many ways it builds up quite a momentum – only too late.

I’m surprised that TONN Recordings have released such a good album. The other releases on that label haven’t been that much of interest, but with this one they’ve managed to set themselves up for future releases. It is more then a decent release, it is actually good and most of the songs hold up. Order the physical vinyl from them if you can, otherwise you can settle with the digital release itself. Listen to it in whole down below.

Review: L’Avenir – Soir

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A couple of months ago Cold Beats Records announced the fourth album by L’Avenir, titled “Soir“. In terms of aesthetics he’s been consistent but it is not the most pleasing artwork to lay your eyes upon. There’s a certain connection between each of his albums and it is noticeable even though he’s shifted to a more ethereal approach on this release. He’s kept the most interesting elements of his music and developed it into an otherworldly experience – but how that holds up in practice is what you’ll find out – in this latest track-by-track review on Repartiseraren.

The introductory for this album, “Modern World” is excitingly refreshing to hear as it starts off but when the melody is laid down in the song, it gets increasingly mind-numbing. Going from laying a creative and ethereal sound, bouncing from ambient to minimal wave, synth-pop and back again – is simply astonishing. The lyrics hold up well and the dismayed tone of the sound is also an unpleasant reminder of the topic that Jason brings up in this song.

As the song comes to a close, another melody is laid upon the frankly cheesy melody that he decided to delve too much into. This other melody is more in tune with the overall sound and fits the picturesque notion he deliver with the rhythm, drums and occasional synthesizer bravado. Conceptually the song is much better, however it lacks severely in captivating melodies and make it a blunder in terms of the passage between the intro and the outro.

Desert” is way more of a stable track, which in its essence has a great melody and move toward a decent sound. The problem with the song is that it suffers from the opposite of what the first one did, that is the vocals and lyrical content isn’t that good to begin with -but the melodies, rhythm and everything else that carries the atmosphere and develops it into something more are consistently surprising – in a good way. The alarming nature of high-note synthesizers is reminiscent of Person:A.

Another thing must be said about this and that is how the rhythm in the beginning slowly drags the listener into the sound-scape and lets the ambient side of L’Avenir glisten. It is good that the vocals and the lyrics don’t take up much of a space in general and that one can drift away, enjoying the remainder of the music itself and how he professionally crafts what is his own sound.

InThe Stranger” the beats get heavier and more pulsating. There’s an eerie darkness and the synthesizers get to be in the background a lot more, as the vocals and the rhythm are the first and foremost benefiters in this song. The rhythm is simple yet hypnotizing when the base drum resounds and the snare drum hits, a very unchanging atmosphere that relies on what already has been presented in the beginning of it. It’s overall the best sounding tune so far.

As it switches into more ambient settings the further in you get, the melodies layer beautifully upon one another and connect marvelously, inserting that much needed emotional touch which L’Avenir can pull off brilliantly. This is where the transition into “Mirror Men” goes painfully, as they share many of the elements that made “The Stranger” and “Desert” much better then “Modern World“.

WithMirror Men” you can almost hear some of the hints that are so lovable in Drab Majesty, for example. A sound-scape clad in an ethereal form, where smoke sifts through the cracks and give off a mysteriously but huge atmospheric draped in a synth-pop outfit. The melodies are crystal clear and put forth some kind of eerie existentialist but immortal vibe to it. Your body is more then a vessel, it is one metaphysical step closer to god and the divine. The beats have also become more concentrated and punched up, there’s more guts in this song.

Silence Shouts” become more of a standardized song for “Soir” after the aforementioned one. A bridge to something else. But he utilizes the differentiating vocals in this song to create a worthwhile listening experience. The more you get into it the further it develops in the background, together with the constant synthesizer-baseline and then a grandiose section is dropped in – the synthesizers get more brazen and deliver a more confident version of the same song. Hearing the different components go out of their way, some of them in a minuscule fashion, others drift away into complex melodies, is very satisfying.

Then comes a transgression from regular minimal synth and synth-pop, a more electronic body music oriented vibe in “Winter Calls“. If the other songs had a string of sublimity in it – this is when the hammer hits the nail – it is without any mysterious intent and more with a colder touch. Here’s where the concept have been on point with the actual song it self. As the beats stumble more and stutter, the synthesizers are more concentrated then ever. It doesn’t stand and fall with the rhythm and beats, it stands on its own in melodies and general atmosphere.

Now whenOutside” comes on, it hits right at home but there’s something off with the sound, one doesn’t know if it is intentional or if it is the masterer’s fault. We on Repartiseraren have released “Outside (Just Like Home)” on a compilation before this. It sounds a bit different. The melodies should be more apparent then they really are, the beats are too hollow and in front of the atmosphere that should be felt in a different way. It is as if someone activated a drum-machine and had the intentions of making another song, at the same time that L’Avenir made “Outside“. It doesn’t really fit.

It is one of the more serious disappointments on this release. “What Happened To Yesterday” is, however, a great example of the adaptiveness of Jason’s music as it is a pure synth-pop gem. The melodies are central and bring out the soul of the song immaculately. Even though some parts of it ain’t my cup of tea, one can not dismiss it in its entirety. Atmospherically the song is huge and covers more territory then any other on this album. Synthesizers are in the background and foreground without the rhythm or beats interfering in an awkward way. A great addition to a so far alright release.

The songVivet” is more playful in its style and stray away from the seriousness in the music at times, giving it a more ambiguous feeling while listening to it. A very dancefloor-friendly song. Rhythmically it is enchanting and nothing bad could be said about it, it is the embodiment of what L’Avenir tries to say and establish with this release. It is funny how the songs gradually get better, then as they get better it turns for the worse and come back to the greater side where they could’ve stayed in the first place.

Had this album been released in August or September instead, “August” would’ve been the epitome of an outro – the change from summer to fall – for better or worse. A sullen baseline carries the rhythm of sharpened beats that steadily marks the end of “Soir“. Even though you’ve already been given a lot to listen to, it doesn’t end with the outdrawn melodies and simple beats to shut everything down and call it a day, there are bonus tracks and remixes available as well. Let’s take them on.

Interestingly enough, “No Destination (Bonus Track)” is a really experimental gem that should’ve been saved for the b-side instead of one of the other songs. Not to mention “Fault” – which is quite frankly one of the best songs on this release. Even though one gets why “No Destination” doesn’t fit the album, “Fault” could’ve easily outmaneuvered one of the A-Side tracks – because it is really, really great. The fast-paced rhythm, playful synthesizer melodies and overall great, ambitious sound-scape is reason enough.

Denial (Bonus Track)” is also one of those songs that would’ve made it better on the line-up for the original line-up. It has a well-crafted atmosphere and even though it might be a bit more experimental, it is way better and more inspiring then “Moonlight (Bonus Track)“. Experimentalism doesn’t always have to be on the bad side of the spectrum, it could very well be a more enthralling song more fitting on an album such as this.

Remixes, what about them? Well, they’re in most cases hit or miss – oftentimes more a miss. Forever Grey make a reasonably ok attempt at their version of “Mirror Men“, but the original stands much taller and this remix does nothing to stand out on its own, not a memorable attempt either. But there’s something about it that is charming but it is reserved for some parts of the remix only. Since the original song “Outside” was ruined, it is nice to hear the Person:A-remix which deliver some really claustrophobic, minimalistic cold-wave interpretation of the original. He’s managed to pull off a really ominously sounding melody, that make the song less upbeat and more downbeat.

The breakdowns made by Kline Coma Xero on “What Happened To Yesterday” are charming but not enough to be considered great, but it adds a different touch and a whole new version of the original track, that coupled with auto-tuning gives it an experimental electronic and electro-ish vibe. MAKiNA GiRGiR‘s rework of  the same song almost makes it a chiptune tribute, one of the best remixes on this album for sure. They have a really minimalistic approach and it becomes a song on its own, ready to stand by itself in the atmosphere they’ve created and especially the melodies.

When the song “Silent Shouts” get the remix treatment by Nina Belief, it unfortunately falls on its own into the category of uninspiring. Had the beats matched the tempo better and her vocals as well, it might’ve been an off-shoot into something different and more alluring. This is most definitely a miss in terms of the remixes. The remix of “The Stranger” by Lola Kumtus is not anything interesting either, unfortunately. It just rehashes the song and makes it more cloudy, repetitive and basic.

So this is what I think of this album. In terms of the overall quality the record is not the best L’Avenir can do but it is worth listening to, since it contains a few really great songs and some that are not as great. You can listen to the album in full down below and if you like it, you can order a double-CD or a vinyl as well from Cold Beats Records.

 

 

Review: TSTI – Endings

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Some time ago TSTI had his third album released, or second if you don’t count “Evaluated: An Album Of Remixes“. German-based Basic Unit Productions have gotten the pleasure to release “Endings” – which is the apt title of the release. Other Voices Records have also gotten their share of it and have released a limited edition cassette of it. We’ve had the possibility of listening to a few of the demos before this was released and they sounded promising, as does his whole discography. The aesthetics of the release are industrial and very cut and paste, not really anything we enjoy at all, and the first album “Evaluations” looked more alluring visually.

The album clocks in at around thirty-six minutes in total. So let’s get into what this album has to offer in its entirety, by doing a track-by-track review of it.

Things I Would Do” is a special kind of song when it comes to the atmosphere, right from the start there is an inviting kind of mystic vibe over it but at the same time an assertive industrial sound to it. We’re not really fans of the processed vocals at all but the lyrics in this song are simple but add a catchy melodious tone to an – at first – deserted landscape. The favorite part comes forth in the build-up until the chorus and the chorus itself, as they both pack a melodious punch which is remindable and emotional. It lurks in the background and comes out in full bloom together with the drum beats and snaredrum, which later on forms a stunning introductory to a hopefully, equally as great album.

We’ve been fortunate enough to hear the craftsman, S. Smith, create this marvelous tune step-by-step until it finally was released on Basic Unit Productions. Even though the fondness of the demo-version of this song have caught on, his stamp throughout it makes for a more bombastic and impactful experience.

Naïveté (feat. Jennifer Touch)” is a lot more pop-influenced then the first one, but he stays true to himself and his sound, which allows for a heavier side to take place amongst the cheesier vibes of the flute and the melody itself. It is not necessarily the build-up and climax of the song which is interesting, but rather the dissective nature of the downbeat melodies that are produced in between – giving it a whole atmosphere instead of a half one. We don’t think “Jennifer Touch” adds anything that gives this song momentum, or a different characteristic, which is probably not what was meant – but as a collaborative effort it is stale. The instruments and rhythm are more interesting here then the synthesizers for the most part, as they are more complex and add more to the song overall.

The slower nature of “Sincerity” allows S. Smith to build up a better atmosphere then in any of the other songs, this one crushes totally in terms of the synthesizers vibrancy and the emotional delivery of his vocals. It is almost like an anthemic ballad in of itself and layer upon layer of instrumentation cut right through and form the shape of a transgression between straight-forward synth-pop and ambient music. A very nice addition which sprawls from his old sound and new, to connect and make something greater then all of that. Too bad that he underestimates this kind of touch with his other songs, whom are more industrial in nature, but not in the crafty kind of way – because they build upon a foundation of synth-pop – instead of a transgressiveness between severeal genres.

It is a dreamy song and we drear the end of it, which comes at a too fast pace unfortunately. Even though it is the slowest song yet, but at the time it is allowed to brood and deliver chord upon chord of nicely laden synthesized beauty – is precisely the reason why one ought to check out TSTI in his new form.

Forgive Me” catch elements of the previous song and have also been featured on Repartiseraren’s own compilation “Whoever Am I”, long before release. It is noticeable how Sid’s (from Schwefelgelb) mastering have affected the song, because it is somewhat different from Zarkoff (who mixed the re-mastered compilation) – so it is very intriguing to hear how different characteristics, in terms of mastering – can be heard in the end product. Since we have a special bond to this song in terms of nostalgia itself, it is hard to not have a personal connection to the song itself, but it lacks in momentum although it is picked together quite good through the atmosphere of the song itself. There is never a dull moment and around the corner there’s a whole different interpretation in itself.

The song has very different characteristics throughout, which is what ultimately makes it different as well as fitting at the same time. Everything runs like clockwork and the time never stops until S. Smith cares to do it himself, by ending on a high note. It’s a very classy song in terms of tone and clarity, where the repetetive lyrics play an integral role to it moving forward at all.

Strange Times” really catches one off-guard. Damn, the first melody is a work of art in itself and from there and on you can’t turn the song off. Had S.U.R.V.I.V.E moved in a different way and taken the help of S. Smith – this is how it would sound like. There’s a certain niceness about the mysticism in the song itself, the sweet touches of synthesizers and not-too-industrial beats make this outstanding synth-pop music. By now, had it been some other album, it probably would’ve dulled off by now. Here’s the part where musicians fall short, oftentimes, if they have an album that goes on for as many songs as “Endings” does. The samples that can also be heard but in another form, on “Naïveté (feat. Jennifer Touch)” take a step into informing the listener – rather then shake the world together with beats.

It is good to hear how the first melody is expanded in the end and clangs out like it should’ve. Not that we’ve heard this song before, but because it is just what is supposed to happen – it is the destiny of this song.

To Visit You Again” is metaphorically speaking the most emotional song so far. Both in message and sound. The longing, the outdrawn beats that scrape against the soundscape and the desperation in the atmosphere that lunge towards you in an instant. It draws upon mutated choirs that between added effects and from high to low notes, add a nicely angelic touch to an otherwise doom and gloom song. It is also the only instrumental song on the whole album. Which is a pleasure to listen through. The repetetiveness of it doesn’t bother at all because it is inventive and make use of the different small touches added to the whole totality of sound. When “Flatter Me” comes on, it is obvious that it is a direct continuation of the aforementioned instrumental song. They share many of the same ambitions in being emotionally touching and direct, together with impervious melodies that never stagnate.

Here though, the melodies are taken into a different direction which both touch upon these elements and create a whole other atmosphere – the intangible nature of TSTI’s sound is one of his strengths. All of a sudden everything is downhill and from there it goes uphill, the emotions come crashing down and the beats develop intensity as they shift from rhythm to rhythm. Very flattering of him to do so.

R.A.S.” never hits home but at the same time does. It is a song filled with paradoxical sound production, with melodies that sound oriental at times and the complete opposite. There’s a shyness and awkwardness about it as a whole, as if he doesn’t want it to bloom out completely – as he holds it even closer. He shapes and unshape things, from rhythms that don’t really make sense to beats that almost put the synthesizer’s wonderful soundscaping out of play. Maybe it is the complete destruction of everything, the ending as it is, even though this certainly isn’t his last contribution in terms of sound as TSTI.

Unfortunately, the remixes of “Things I Would Do“, by Hante and Ssleeping desiresS don’t do the original justice. It is much better and their versions of it aren’t up to par with it, and it doesn’t even create anything tangible from the perspective of making a new version, or something that could possibly stand out in any way, in terms of musicianship.

The album as a whole is a decent thing to listen to. It might even be better then that, though some things are hit and miss – but when it comes down to it, TSTI hones his old sound and develops something new – not necessarily breaking everything down and making the outcome dull and boring. Listen to it in whole down below.

 

 

Spotlight: Kazeria, A.D. Mana, Strucktura, TRAITRS

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In this spotlight we’ve chosen four artists/groups that are different – yet alike in many ways. There will be a lot of darkwave, coldwave and industrial music in this spotlight. Mostly because those are the genres where we find ourselves at home, because there’s immense talent to be found there. We start off with noisy industrial music and end with gloomy post-punk extravaganza.

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Kazeria was unknown to me when I found his music via Gradual Hate Records. It was his latest release, “Nihilist Militant“, that caught my eye. The aesthetics were impressive when it comes to the artwork for this release, but more was to be discovered when pressing play. He’s created very intimate and atmospheric industrial music, coupled with dark ambient overtones. Keep in mind that these songs are totally unedited versions, created between 2003 and 2007 – which is a representation of how it sounded back then.

There’s a great assertiveness in his music, it almost borders to the bombasticism of martial industrial. As stated by the label, this is a “very personal” release, which really shows in the emotions he conveys with his music. It is both harsh and atmospheric, with destructiveness at its core. One is very impressed by the percussive rhythms he produces, which can be heard the clearest in “Evrazia Regnat” – a very disciplined and ambitious track in regards to melodies as well. Even the very short ballad-like song “Irminsul” has a certain grace.

This release is a great way to get into his music and if you pre-order the last copy in the special package – you get a gas mask as well. Can’t get more industrial then that. Listen to the release down below, buy it if it is of interest to you.

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A.D. Mana is a relatively new artist from Berlin. The re-release of his first and only, self-titled EP, on cassette – had me at the first song “Take Hold” – a stern coldwave rendition that catches multiple influences, like synth-pop and darkwave, molding it into a sinister blend together with his voice. The synthesizer stabs are clear but at the same time dark and brooding, a strange combination which at first doesn’t seem to work but as the song progresses it is obvious that it does. “Down The Wire“, another song on the release, almost funnels the post-punk vibes into some odd kind of grungy synth-pop-‘n’-roll.

My favorite song on the release, except the first one, is “Honour“. It adds gracefulness to the messy environment of the songs in general. Even though you’re caught slightly off-guard by his voice – not in a good way – it fits in place after a few moments into the song. There are some great rhythms as well, aptly executed. The melodies are unorthodox, which makes me like it even more. You expect more of the same but get tricked into the wondrous atmospheres, the groovy electronic beats – and the charming ballad-like ending within “Soulware“. A perfect instrumental track and appropriate farewell. You should really check it out, and buy the cassette from sentimental, if it suits you.

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I’ve actually heard about this artist, Strucktura, whilst browsing through the bandcamp-feed. But I never paid much attention to the music. There’s some really solid darkwave-inspired music in his “Statues Also Die” release on Oráculo Records. While the synthesizers and beats are on point in the release, there’s some really cheesy lyrics. In a weird way they go along well with the music, so I will leave that alone. The music seems awfully cheerful but at the same time moody and distraught – which is something that adds character to the songs. Especially in “Val D’Aran“. 

There’s a nice futuristic vibe about each song and it comes out differently, even though most of the rhythm and melodies are alike. As dreary as the atmospheres may be at times – they come out as dreamy – and are filled with nicely laden synthesizer sweeps, alongside well constructed rhythms and melodies. It is a release you should check out, if it is something for you – buy the limited edition vinyl via Oráculo Records.

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Torontian band TRAITRS have created some of the most soothing, coherent post-punk music I’ve heard in a while. The oomph of the baseline resounds throughout in the first song “Witch Trials“. It is really weird how each and every song on the release is anthemic on its own – it is mostly reserved to one or a few songs – but this is catchy, ambitious and on fire from the matchsticks up until the light goes ablaze. It is especially noticeable in “Lya“, one of the more minimalistic songs. The singer gets a certain kind of emotional streak in the chorus which makes you want to sing along to the lyrics.

Not to mention how massive “Gallows” is. Here they’ve really gotten through with the originality of their sound. They both have an edge in the music and somewhere to stand firm – nothing is left to chance, everything is constructed meticulously. When one gets as far as their last song “Heretic“, the percussionism is simply mindblowing. Of all the releases recommended in this spotlight, this is the one I will have to choose myself as the best one. You can get it from the Warsawian label Alchera Visions, buy it here and stream it down below.

 

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.