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Aethenor - Betimes Black Cloudmasses CD (album) cover



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3 stars After two years, enough time for much to happen, much to be done and much to be created, Ęthenor, for which the recommendations work usually more than one way (electronic, post-rock and even metal grounds) are back with a second major work, Betimes Black Cloudmasses, one that, given the capacity of the material, could be consider bit small, but applies actually to the band's ethics, as 34 minutes of heavy experimentation was also the degree of refinement that was provided back on the debut. I also think the release was done, as previously, in two formats, if not even three: LP, CD and likely Vinyl.

By this already second burst, it's past the time to talk any longer about what Ęthenor brought new in the genre (or the borderline genres - we'll get back to this a bit later), but more what's new and better in their own complex equation of making music and expressing art, through the new offering. The results are satisfying, it seems that the old recipe is put into the making of it, but signs of maturity build in the round form that Betimes Black Cloudmasses' suite of three electro-dark experimental parts sounds like; in parallel, changes in the lineup happen: the Sunn O))-Guapo-Shora trio has now evolved to a sextet, the big new man being for sure Kristoffer Rygg from Ulver, Arcturus and such - who, realistically, has only brief ("but perfect" is said in the official presentation, "but unnoticed" I'd say myself) vocal interventions, it will be more pleasant to see in him in concerts. Meanwhile out of two other musicians, Alex Babel and Nicolas Field, the latter's got more studies, in drumming and even electronic fusion (read: chemistry-making, probably sounds & stuff), but tad less participating credits, being more of a soloist. The essential question is probably this: are there major transformations happening in Ęthenor's bottled up essence? Not by how I personally feel it, the adherence - in terms of musicianship and, afterwards, in style - truly pays off, seems welcomed.

As influences, Daniel O'Sullivan mentions himself, on the official BlogSpot, at the time of announcing that Betimes Black Cloudmasses is done & delivered: "Musically, Ęthenor summon the most somnolent examples of Bernard Parmegiani, Organum, Nurse with Wound, Klaus Schulze, Igor Wakhevitch, Coil, Iancu Dumitrescu and Charlemagne Palestine." Highly interesting orientation, and while we know how does the lean of Schulze or Coil translate in Ęthenor's own embodiment, the more academic names like Wakhevitch and Dumitrescu are also put up for potential, without shallowness or such, as indeed, at least through the dynamic, accidental parts of this album's flow, there's a feeling of true "post-modern experimental composing".

Three parts (numbered again with roman letters) are mostly equal as importance and gravity, their stitched continuity giving the impression of an epic that has it all (contrasts, climaxes, abyssal nuances, etc.). Electronic is the prime color, though experimenting is extremely refined and the dark trance parts could also relate to "black, doom, hollow" brushes. Of course, post-rock emanates through several "indie" stretches, both emotionally and in the veil of the sound. If previously Ęthenor could only have been placed in modern electronic (from dark ambient to more crushing, experimental tones), this time the drop into drones, the "void" kind of dark ambient and sound-sampling can virtually be referenced to certain kraut-electro techniques of the Golden Age.

[Part] I is slow, haunting, of an elevated ambient-empty drone mix, the contrast, in the middle part, being noise/silent music, with percussion interventions. The return to accidental sounds happens swiftly. What these 10 minutes infuse is practically a regular invitation to heavy, treacherous, hypnotic meditations. What [Part] II has, on a superior note, is wildly dynamic, extremely experimental yet of a controlled mechanic experimental slurps, bangs and ample flashes, guitar and the entire dark force of the percussion being added to the electronic engine. This is very good, weird, intense music coming from Ęthenor. The climaxes are several, but the burn & screech added to the last one gives, afterwards, the signal of a complete fall into shadows and silences, with bass waves and stuff like that. [Part] III gets back to some kraut tinges, but overall samples sounds, rhythms and forms of artificial music for the first 5 minutes, while afterwards it goes back to less interesting, still full of juice ambient drones, elongations and irregular electronic-voices, coming to life through modulators and similar sampling instruments. It's, in all, a 34 minutes exploration of darkly imagined points of the Universe - either the void, either mortuary caves, either depths where sound is deformed or amortized, either the one place where chaos and noise can translate into a form of wicked music.

Resuming, Betimes Black Cloudmasses is primarily electronic with intense experimental findings and a post-rock cracking, dissonant ideal of expression.

Report this review (#178268)
Posted Sunday, July 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Betimes Black Cloudmasses is Aethenor's follow up to their wonderful, creepy debut album, and still follows the deep, dark, droning methods of progressive electronic. Where the debut sounded like the setting for a Lovecraftian scene of madness, Betimes Black Cloudmasses could be the soundtrack to a torture chamber in a darkened castle.

"I" consists of sinister organs, the sound of klanging chains resonate though the stone halls, tin dishes of the imprisoned sliding beneath their doors on the cement floor, the slamming of giant doors, and the whistling of electronic experiments performed on the unlucky.

"II" sounds like keys jingling before igniting an experimental thunder machine that generates noises that would turn a whole city mad. The center portion of the track is ominously optimistic with floating wooden windchimes. A buzzing drone leads the track to its end.

"III" sounds like the life of a rodent living in or around this castle - it begins completely empty, the rodent accidentally running into pails, brooms, and tools fill the atmosphere, along with the voices of some mad soul carrying through the vents.

It's kind of hard to give a review of music like this. There's nothing technical about it, and not much musical either. It's all about atmosphere, and with albums like this it's really up to the listener to craft imagery for the soundscapes presented. Above is my interpretation, and I suggest this album to anyone willing to attempt crafting similar or different mental imagery for a dark and noisy album. Also, fans of Igor Wakhevitch would most definitely enjoy the avant- gardist tendencies at work here.

Report this review (#439813)
Posted Wednesday, April 27, 2011 | Review Permalink

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