Crowhurst and Gavin Bryars - Incoherent American Narrative, Dool - Summerland, Drown - Subaqueous, Lotus Thief - Oresteia, Perchta - Ufang, Prophecy, Secrets Of The Moon - Black House, Sylvaine / Unreqvited - Time Without End, The Mystery Of The Bulgarian Voices feat. Lisa Gerrard - Shandai Ya / Stanka, third eye cinema podcast, Unreqvited - Mosaic II: la deteste et la detresse, Vuur & Zijde / Impavida split
Another day, another label brought up to date. Let’s jump in straightaway, shall we?
Secrets Of The Moon – Black House (Prophecy) (May 8)
We’d covered this German post-something or other band for their Sun a half decade back, and were somewhat nonplussed by their lack of identity and swipes from other bands and unrelated genre.
Things can get pretty blatant on occasion (the nearly direct swipe of a Devils Blood riff on “earth hour” being the most egregious example), but more generally speaking they still haven’t decided whether they’re a gothic rock band (the verses on “sanctum”, the verses and Kevin Haskins tribal drums on “don’t look now”, the Projekt darkwave of “heart”), indie rockers (“veronica’s room”, “cotard”), emo (“mute god”) or grunge aficionados (“he is here”, “black house”).
Overall, they’re certainly listenable enough, and sort of append to a “post-gothic/darkwave” cum indie label…but the fact is that they’re not all that
comfortable a fit in any of the genres they dip their toes into.
And while some younger acts delude themselves into thinking this makes them
sound “unique”, the combination of their lack of adhering to a given genre’s tropes and failing to stick to a cohesive internal identity simply makes them harder to settle in and appreciate.
Has its moments, but don’t believe the hype.
Dool – Summerland (Prophecy)
We’d covered their Love Like Blood EP last year around this time, and found it worthy enough to leave us clamoring for a full length. So now that it’s finally arrived, was it worth the wait?
Well…last time around, they struck us as very much a darkwave act, which was a definite plus.
Much like later All About Eve, Mission, Gene Loves Jezebel, Siouxsie et al, they
appear to be one of those bands that starts off loveably dark and gothic, only to lose their way and head for safer country as soon as possible thereafter.
This one’s full of major key business, energy, force, an underlying almost “upbeat” (for a bunch of depressives, anyway) indie rock feel that leaves any remaining darker touches slipping away like sand beneath the feet in the undertow.
Look, it’s not a complete sellout and spit in the face of the Dool we praised last time around. You still get tracks like “god particle” or the sludgy doom of the title track, and others come off sort of post-Bloodletting Concrete Blondelike (another band that was one and done flirting with gothicism, at best), “the well runs dry” being both case in point and how this album left us feeling about the band.
Haven’t given up hope entirely, there’s enough here to suggest they may in fact still have a killer darkwave gothic album in ’em.
But while appealing enough as a dark indie sort of thing…this sure as hell ain’t it.
Vuur & Zijde / Impavida split (Prophecy) (April 24)
Members of Laster, whose Ons vrije fatum came off a hell of a lot better than
followup Het Wassen Oog appear here in a new act that attempts to recapture said act’s earlier, more introspective glories in a trio of tracks that at least in two cases literally blend together, one into the next…but you won’t mind one bit.
Looks like this was the kick in the ass Laster (or members thereof) needed, to get themselves back on track.
Frustratingly, they’re paired with a far lesser act out of Germany that conflates
“trancelike and introspective black metal” with “(light) atonality and aimlessness”. You can see why they were chosen as a splitmate, given a vague base similarity of approach…but the gulf in quality between the two is unutterably vast.
Get this one for Vuur & Zijdge (who are quite good!), consider the last two tracks optional bonus content.
The Mystery Of The Bulgarian Voices feat. Lisa Gerrard – Shandai Ya / Stanka (Prophecy) (April 17)
I remember, as many of you who survived the 90’s may, a huge stink being made about quirky world music ensemble Les Mysteres des Voix Bulgares, an all female choir working a sound reminiscent of Arabian and Indian folk music, but with its own unique flourishes separating it from either.
On the related flipside, the gothically inclined should recall the overrated Dead Can Dance, an Aussie duo who always felt more David Byrne/Paul Simon/Sting’s
execrable phases embracing world music than they ever did gothic or darkwave to these ears.
Many a fellow goth will be found praising ’em to this very day…me? Never saw the appeal, sorry (ditto for Faith and the Muse and later, far less gothic Cocteau Twins…and for that matter, the Creatures and Siouxsie and the Banshees post-Tinderbox. Bring the goth or just walk away slowly, folks…I never knew ye.)
That being duly noted, here you get 1/2 of Dead Can Dance, namely the distaff end Lisa Gerrard, singing away in (presumed) Bulgarian alongside the long-out of commission ensemble. And you know what? If you lower your expectations to the sort of yawn inducing world music aforementioned (you could tag in the likes of Fela and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, if you’re desperate enough)? This ain’t bad at all, being a decided improvement on any of those.
It’s not gothic, no.
But compared to that sort of happy happy one world bullshit, there’s enough of the sinister and bizarre underlying herein to make this pretty damn listenable in 2020.
Not bad at all, and should make a good complement to certain workings and initiating a trancelike state.
Perchta – Ufång (Prophecy) (April 10)
Bizarre if fascinating Eastern European folk instrumentation and chanting interrupted by a quartet of oddball first wave style black metal.
Those tracks, think Root as fronted by a femme growl/shrieker (ugh), who on the folkier instrumental tracks often delivers spoken word business im Deutsche.
Honestly, not only do the folk tracks work far better than the black metallish ones, but further, those tracks would work much better than they do without this woman shrieking all over the top of ’em.
Consider this an interesting instrumental album and see if you can get hold of a remix sans vocals somehow.
It’d be a much superior listen, rather than just an interesting one.
Drown – Subaqueous (Prophecy) (February 28)
Funeral doom act Tchornobog’s mainman Markov Soroka delivers two 20 minute
tracks filled with watery-chorused guitars whose melody lines threaten to drag the listener underwater, somewhat akin to Ahab without the clean vocals or
Flipside “father subaqueous” is far superior to opener “mother cetacean”, which
keeps things comparatively traditional, all tremelo riffs and suchlike.
But taken as a whole, this remains interesting stuff, sure to appeal to those drawn to the slowest and most pensive of doom tangents.
Lotus Thief – Oresteia (Prophecy) (January 10)
We’d covered this duo’s Rervm a good six years back, and in the interim they appear to have changed focus and style quite a bit.
While still retaining the airy, whispery dreamlike female vocals, they appear to have dropped all pretense at lighter, more syncretist elements like shoegaze to deliver something that’s more directly, well, “post-black”.
Plenty of harmonies to be found on tracks like “the furies”, and several tracks here are nigh-ambient in their stillness and near-absence of vocals, drums, or heavy guitars…but others are downright aggressive, even experimental at points (“libation bearers”, the rather shrill and unlikeable “sister in silence”).
Overall, not bad…just feels like a very different band from the one we last
encountered, more than half a decade ago.
Crowhurst and Gavin Bryars – Incoherent American Narrative (Prophecy) (January 24)
We’d spoken to Crowhurst for that rather pointless split with Gnaw Their Tongues a few years back, and here you get a far more consonant, but equally pointless ambient drone effort in combination with a British ‘composer’ who would appear to have more in common with John Cage than Giuseppe Verdi or even Steve Reich.
Well…it sets a mood, alright…
(sighs, rolls eyes, shakes head)
Unreqvited – Mosaic II: la déteste et la détresse (Prophecy) (January 10)
We’d covered these Canuckleheads twice before, for Disquiet and Mosaic I: l’amour et l’ardeur, and found them a tad middling – with definite moments, but a bit too shoegazey and airy for their own good.
Here this is addressed to some degree, with tracks like “nightfall” and “wasteland” bringing the much needed darker vibe, and at least the first 2 installments in the three part “transience” suite* coming off very much akin to something off the Mass Effect 1/2 soundtrack.
* “III – the static” is too atonal and abrasive to hit the mark, even were it as wide as the side of a barn.
Faunts “M2”? Not quite, but regular Third Eye readers know that implies something quite good indeed.
Indie space rock with a grim undercurrent, or works like this that at least vaguely approximate such, definitely work for us.
Sylvaine / Unreqvited – Time Without End (Prophecy) (January 10)
And here our aforementioned hosers work a split with Norway’s Sylvaine, a female fronted project that features laid back vocals over piano (“no more solitude”) or dual tracked over acoustic guitar (“falling”). It’s pleasant, relatively dark and pensive neofolk of the sort to which Prophecy listeners should be long accustomed.
Here Unreqvited ups their usual game by laying down a backing track well suited for the lady to lay down some multitracked ululations over, like Enya gone gothic symphonic all of a sudden (“interwoven”). It’s easily the best thing they’ve ever done…perhaps they should make this accidental partnership a permanent thing, n’est pas?
They drop one more reasonably light and airy track (“fields of elysium”), but without her vocals, it’s the sting in the tail that really makes it work. You’ll see what I mean when you give it a spin.
And I do recommend that…this split is easily the best thing Unreqvited has ever
done, and I don’t think that’s an accident (cough Sylvaine cough).
Very good stuff, all told.