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Рецензия от Heathen Harvest на альбом «Reflections Under The Sky»


Рецензия от Heathen Harvest на альбом «Reflections Under The Sky»

Размещено 10 Марта 2016
review, english, heathen harvest

I’ve always pondered what makes a particular genre album “better” than the others.  There’s a good deal of subjectivity in play here—what works for me might not for someone else—but I suspect there’s more to it than that.  I listen to and write about a lot of dark ambient music, and it’s still hard to try to describe why I like a certain album more than others, especially when they play by such similar rules.

Reflections under the Sky is a fitting example of this.  The debut from SiJ (Vladislav Sikach) and Textere Oris (Ilya Fursov) sounds, on the surface, like countless other genre efforts:  somber keyboards waft to and fro over field recordings of rain and static, with the odd bit of treated guitar drone and other filtered and pitched effects gently snaking their way through the mix.  In some places, such as “Behind the Window,” the music’s a dead ringer for past classics: in the case of this track, Brian Lustmord and Robert Rich‘s seminal album, Stalker.  But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, first because Stalker is rife with brilliant yet desolate passages, and because the template Sikach and Fursov follow is a time-tested and time-proven one.

So what is it about Reflections under the Sky that kept drawing me back in, my brain intensely interested in pinning down the precise qualities that set it apart from its brethren?  Is it the pervading melancholic-yet-soothing atmosphere drenching the album from start to finish?  Perhaps it’s the carefully placed bits of melody?  Or is it the magnetic narrative quality of “Lost,” where sounds of birds, the crackling of radio feedback, pitch-shifted wails, a wandering bass synth, distant drums, and sampled snatches of the voices of children merge to conjure a sense of otherworldly mystique?  Indeed, Tehôm‘s recent album on Cyclic Law, Lacrimae Mundi, did something quite similar, but where that album was dense with layered detail, this effort is much more subdued yet just as effective.  Even so, it could simply be the graceful keyboards and understated beauty of “In the Rain,” or the hisses, chimes, plucked guitar strings, tapped bells, minimal piano, sing-song voices, and odd teapot whistles of “First Snow.”

The more I returned to this album, the more I began to realize and appreciate the range of sampled and live sound sources, all wrapped in the same warming gray-white coat.  I’m beginning to understand, too, that when so-called “dark ambient” behaves in this way, it’s not really dark whatsoever.  Albums that overemphasize their darkness don’t carry the same emotional honesty or compositional variety as can be found here; this is not a vehicle for anxiety or dread.  Not that these types of records don’t have their place, mind you, but it’s interesting to me that they often carry the same genre label as Reflections under the Sky when the defining atmospheres are actually leagues apart.

Now, it’s completely possible and even understandable that someone might read what I’ve written here but have a completely different reaction.  As I’ve mentioned, Textere Oris and SiJ really haven’t done anything new.  Do they follow in the footsteps of others?  Yes.  Will Reflections under the Sky remind you of other ambient works, “dark” or otherwise?  Very likely.  Yet, I’ve found this somewhat unheralded release from two relative newcomers to be far more enjoyable and listenable than most genre albums I’ve heard in recent months.  It flows wonderfully, looping with no loss of its gentle winter-tinged breath (I’ve restarted this album without thinking multiple times, not ready to abandon its strange hold on me) and contains many memorable sequences that float through my head even when I’ve been long unplugged.  It’s an album that settles into your skin in a familiar and comforting way, like a well-worn favorite shirt—one you look forward to slotting anew, even though it’s not really new at all.  It connects.  It’s satisfying on multiple levels.  It just plain works.

Sometimes there are no definite answers or reasons.  Things just come together in some sort of bizarre cosmic convergence.  An album comes along and fits perfectly into whatever temporary complex emotional gap you didn’t even realize you were carrying.  It’s a rare thing, and one that’s worth preserving.  Reflections under the Sky has done that for me.  Perhaps it’ll do the same for you.

Rating: 9/10
Written by: Edward Rinderle

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