“Don’t Enter!” – Satanic Mills & Black Rainbows
“If you are a false, don’t entry!” And if you are a false, do enter, because the only rule of this weekly section, in which we present you three short blurbs on music we are currently listening to, is that we are under no circumstance allowed to press the enter key. All of these little reviews shall thus consist of one paragraph only. The more this rule renders the blurb illegible, the more the writer has failed. Check back every Friday for a fresh haul of Don’t Enter.
Without getting into complex arguments about how ambient and metal are actually the same (there are other webzines for that), it is no secret that those who are into metal do not have to make much of an effort to get into ambient. After all, both metal and ambient rely on the elaborate creation of atmospheres, so there is not much of a ‘culture shock’ when manoeuvring between these genres, at least not to the same extent as when you switch from vocal-reliant rock to instrumental ambient. So it was not difficult for us to compile a few of our favourite ambient/electronic releases.
Raison d’être – Requiem for Abandoned Souls | Sweden, 2003
In abandoned places, the shadow of the soul disintegrates from within, towards desolation, becoming the void of nothingness…. Within this mysterious maxim printed on the cover are the five track titles that make up Raison d’être‘s Requiem for Abandoned Souls album, and within this mysterious maxim we can also identify the reason for this album’s existence, for it is nothing else if not to serve as an aural description of the soul’s passage as it withers away from itself. To this end every part serves a purpose: the atmosphere of the opening track is haunted and forbidding, revealing the emptiness of an ‘abandoned place’ through minimalistic but carefully elaborated phrasing in which faded droning depths, distant industrial torment, and a cacophony of church bells all work together. The second track, opening again with church bells, describes the fragility of the soul as a wispy, indefinite entity vulnerable to the slightest, most innocuous approach; the droning is far lighter and there is an ethereal aspect to the synth lines that altogether create a distinct sense of something beautiful. What is good must soon die, however, and even towards the end of “The Shadow of the Soul” we can discern the definitions crumbling, the bubble bursting with the ominous chorals announcing imminent destruction. This is made manifest in the third track, arguably the album’s climax in which the sensitive but immortal soul is subjected to a riotous violence as reflected in the sounds of metal harshly scraping against itself beneath the familiarly hellish chorals. This apocalyptic episode gradually gives way to a new resignation, the resolute surrendering to fate: the fourth track brings this on through the same elements, but engineered to effect both this sense of resignation and the sensation of wraithlike movement, of movement towards desolation. The final and longest composition, in which the music is more forlorn, deserted, and emptier than ever, truly has the feeling of denouement, not so much in that we determine that everything is resolved like in a story, but in that we detect that this was what the album was trying to express all along: the silent, dreary, bleak, unsalvageable brokenness that accosts the human soul in despair. Requiem for Abandoned Souls is a deeply psychological experience with a tremendous capacity for offering something vicarious to the listener insofar as every listener is a sentient creature in possession of a dimly understood psyche. This album is about the breaking of that psyche; it is the lament for that psyche. |Maximus
Bandcamp (extended version of this album)
Satanhartalt – Sigeléas | Great Britain, 2013
If William Blake is anything to go by England is plagued by ‘Dark Satanic Mills’, and certainly from t’North of Albion there comes this rumbling diabolical musick that encapsulates that phrase. Sigeléas – meaning ‘defeated’ or ‘without victory in conflict’ in Old English (i.e. the language spoken by the Anglo Saxons) –is Satanhartalt’s fifth offering on cassette, and is the most evocative and pendulous to date. The name Satanhartalt may be a strung together version of the Danish ‘Satan har talt’, which appropriately means ‘Satan has spoken’, given the frankly diabolical noises that emanate from this magnetic reel. Over both sides of the tape bass throbs rhythmically in an almost industrial fashion, however the sound is very much pre-Industrial Revolution. This if not the factory floor, but the cellar of a forgotten mill, rotten and abandoned in some hellish inversion of Blake’s pastoral evocation of England. Overblown feedback wafts in and around tolling notes on guitar, beneath which is layered such a pottage of reverb. Hellish bellowing pierces the listeners’ ears, and there is the slithering of some metallic debris that rattles and clunks beneath a burial of minimal production. It is hard to know where to place this recording, as the demographic for such a piece should not in reality exist (unless there is somewhere a cluster of people who enjoy ‘diabolical mill & mine music’). But it grips one; the subterranean claustrophobia, the creaking wheels, a fearful grinding millstone, rotting beams and the feeling of something truly malevolent and baleful at work (either being invoked or stalking the shadowy corners of this forgotten lair, this unending pit dug into the hillside of some Yorkshire dale), it all combines to force one to listen compulsively to the album, and then cautiously turn the tape back to Side A and begin again. That this is worked and produced on the Legion Blotan label whose name has been made by its more publically accolade band White Medal is no surprise, but whereas WM is a representation of the moors, dales and hillsides of Yorkshire, Satanhartalt is the tunnelled underbelly of Northumberland with its cragged coastlines, Cheviot Hills and ancient Lindisfarne, riddled with passageways, subterranea and that which lies further beneath. |MDL
Moskva-Kassiopeya – Black EP | Russia, 2013
Synthwave is a genre of electronic music defined by usage of the kind of synthesizer that was popular in eighties’ pop music. Music of this kind is defined by a kind of dreamy sound, reminiscent of hazily remembered, yet nostalgic melodies from childhood. The whole is usually accompanied by an aesthetic of wireframe graphics and eighties clichés. Songs and bands have colourful names, such as Stellar Pursuit, Starlight or Droid Bishop. As such, their appeal is largely limited to a certain age-group. With its Black EP, Moskva-Kassiopeya takes this concept and gives it their own, more unique spin. There is little to say about the band themselves, as there is very little information available. The band’s name refers to an old Soviet science fiction movie that also enjoyed limited popularity in Eastern Germany and, presumably, the rest of the Eastern Bloc. Typically for Soviet cinema, it is a slow, rather introspective movie. What really elevates Moskva-Kassiopeya above the rank and file of this genre is their willingness to deviate from the cheesy nostalgia formula in an attempt to create unique music, less constrained by the overarching framework of old clichés. The resulting music is darker, deliberately serious and is often dominated by slow, almost martial rythms and much more monumental in length. Indeed, the soundscapes Moskva-Kassiopeya weaves are occasionally reminiscent of the more recent works of Darkspace, if punctuated by the very well-employed synthesizer. However, where Darkspace evokes nothing but the cold loneliness of space (just as Wintherr’s other project evokes the cold loneliness of Switzerland), Moskva-Kassiopeya‘s equally spacey sound captures rather a fascination, a relentless optimism of a bygone eras’ futurism, yet with an underlying harshness that prevents the work from drifting into the usual cheesiness that often defines synthwave. The technical prowess, by which this is done is also quite considerable, as Black EP is highly varied, its melodies drifting between more focused, powerfully optimistic segments and more introspective, darker interludes. The relationship between “Black Rainbow” and its intro is particularly brilliant here, as the shorter intro already establishes the melody and distinguishing elements of the subsequent song in an unstructured and vague form, a void punctuated by false starts and the emerging and subsequently fading elements of the preceding song. Even a temporary emergence of the eighties beat and the inclusion of a restrained guitar solo does not push the music back into mold of forced eighties’ clichés practically all other bands of the type pay tribute to. The album closes with an energetic synth melody that slowly fades against more drawn-out, melancholy tones on the aptly named “Decay”. The bold step to innovate a genre based in nostalgia should not, cannot be understated. It’s also freakin’ radtastic, brah. |Poswicht
Note: the image above the Satanhartalt review actually depicts the cover art of another album, as no high-quality image of the album reviewed could be found.
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