PARZIVAL: Urheimat Neugeburt LP/CD/DL Mighty Music/Season of Mist
I have been a fan of Parzival since being taken to see them live in Denmark by my friend many years ago; and after a string of impressive releases in their prolific musical career, they still tick all the boxes.
With this latest album, this Russian/Danish collective produce a dramatic display of Metal infused structures; that once again touch on bombastic classical influences, with martial overtones.
I will address this now for the detractors out there. Yes, Parzival are always going to be compared to Laibach; and that will be down to the vocal style of Dimitirij Bablevskij, who could be picked up and dropped straight into Mute’s finest at a drop of a hat and no one would know the difference. I personally have no issue with a band that sound so similar in many a respect, especially when they’re this good; and musically speaking they have carved their own path, so who cares really?
‘Urheimat Neugeburt’ is a huge album when the volume is cranked up; and simply put, there isn’t a bad track on this from start to finish (and who can say that about every Laibach release?). The production is second to none, with undercurrents of electronic programming to fill out the gaps left by consummate guitar playing and orchestral operatic stabs, rounded out with a glorious array of female choral vocals.
Simply put; Parzival once again have not put a foot wrong, with a professional and surprisingly musical album that captures the listener with every beat, growl and chord.
WHITE BIRCHES: When the Street Calls LP/CD/DL Progress Productions
I haven’t encountered anything by this Swedish duo before and have to say I am impressed. With an album that is structured vaguely around the concept of a dystopian future, the music on display tends to do more of the talking; with an array of synthesizers, guitar, piano and decent programming skills that are utilised to great effect.
The vocal styling of Jenny Gabrielsson Mare is sublime; and riding the sultry wave of ‘Under my Spell’ draws on a track that feels like it’s been penned by Nick Cave structurally. That’s not to say that all the songs tread this path; with more than a smattering of Darkwave and Goth overtones, that luckily enough are not too overbearing, with just the appropriate amount of application to halt it from becoming tacky.
There’s enough pomp here to keep the odd Kate Bush fan happy, without charging off into a sea of absolute madness; and there is also the odd nod at Bat For Lashes in minor respects here and there, for good measure too.
Overall, this is a solid release that’s been constructed well; and should appeal to a broader audience than dark electronica, given the right platform.
APORIE: Control DL Self-Released
Germany’s Aporie are one of those oddities where I genuinely wonder how why he hasn’t been snapped up by a label yet. With an array of guitar ambient, folded into a web of drones and grinds that occasionally tread the same paths as shoegazers nonchalantly do, there really is a lot to offer here, should you give it space to evolve.
Things start to pick up come the mid-way mark, where everything starts to take a turn into Post-Rock territory; and this is where it Aporie comes into his own progressively speaking, with more than a nod to Fennesz here and there ambience wise.
As far as production values go, this covers a wide range where the reverberations carry the notes and soar. My only reservation is that it does sound a touch ‘bright’ in parts; and this is where he could maybe rein it in a little, so it doesn’t ring the ears through attrition.
As a whole, Aporie could have a bright future if he approaches the right people. I would have been tempted to send this out to a few labels as opposed to releasing it myself if I were him; as it’s definitely hard-copy worthy.
THOMAS PARK: The Emissions Series DL Self-Released
A peculiar submission no less, but one which is trying to tackle a subject that is effecting us all. Climate change, unbelievably has its fair share of detractors and those in denial; and it’s somewhat ridiculous that some won’t face up to the facts that have been presented to us as a destructive species, by and large.
As a series of six ‘Emissions’, Park starts of the proceedings with an instructive track informing the listener as to what they are about to be faced with. I quite like the narrative approach, although it did catch me off guard; like I was about to watch an episode of the Twilight Zone.
Musically speaking, Thomas covers a range of layered gritty Dark Ambient , bordering on the Industrial edge as far as the mechanics of the machine like sounds are interpreted. ‘The Emissions Series’ takes a linear path on most tracks and lets the subtle intricacies do the talking; such as interweaving scratches of sound that lightly claw at the fog that sits upon well controlled drones.
As a whole, this album provides a well-meant statement that we should all be taking note of. It wouldn’t be so immediately evident without the aforementioned narrative, or indeed the accompanying bio; but all the same, there is some kudos to be applied here, on an album that I genuinely appreciated and enjoyed from start to finish.
CAUSTIC REVERIE: Ultra Vires DL Self-Released
Bryn Schurman’s Caustic Reverie, approach ambient from a lighter path. This is not to be said that it doesn’t have its darker moments; but ‘Ultra Vires’ tend s to lean more to the light, with a blend of what appear to be treated field recordings, manipulated into (and alongside) drawn out drones.
The end result provides eight tracks that capitalise on space and reverberated tones that glide and fold together, giving each other just enough space to breathe. As a whole this works well enough to provide consistency and a cohesive quality throughout; however it does tend to get a touch wrapped up in its chosen path and could use a small amount of variation to take it that one step further.
Overall, this is a decent stab at ambient that steers away from sounding over-processed and ultimately digital, as so many other albums out there; and is a steady, inoffensive listen from start to finish.
DEEP DARK: Grey Motions DL Self-Released
Russia’s Deep Dark approach Dark Ambient from the traditional sense of the genre. Earthly qualities run as an undercurrent and foundation to a multitude of layers that gradually build stylistically, on each of the tracks presented on this album, titled ‘Motions1’ and ‘Motions 2’ respectively.
The songs themselves differ; yet tie in neatly with each other as a pair. The gritty fog that permeates ‘Motions1’ is drastically different to its counterpart; that relies mainly on pads and treatments to provide atmosphere, yet both feel as they’re coming from the same school of thought.
As a whole, Deep Dark do exactly what they say on the tin and deliver on the promise that comes from proclaiming to be of a specific genre. Apart from a couple of variations (track two could be split into two halves for me and thinned out towards the end), there isn’t much more you could want from any self respecting DA act.
FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE: Trace Formations DL Self-Released
Simplistic and sparsely presented, this latest album by FAMD completely evades giving his tracks full titles and this in itself works within the concept of the album.
‘One’ chimes low reverberated harmonies and melds well with the grit of ‘Two’ and the sinister over tones of ‘Three’. If anything, most of the tracks form a similar and functional formula that tie them altogether, therefore work in one sitting. There is an analogue edge to the projects work that sits well with me. The contrast between light and shade works well, with the job lot neither being too light, nor too dark; and therefore it’s remarkably easy on the ear as a whole.
If I have any criticism, it is that it all feels a touch too bare boned to carry much weight; and the entire release feels light it could just be rounded off with a few more layers to pad out the bottom end of the work on display. However, as stated before, FAMD doesn’t make a bad stab at producing an inoffensive, easy to pick up and play release that doesn’t require hitting the stop button until its completion.