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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A needed overdose of tranquility and introspection!

Battlestations is a Belgian act that has given me so many precious moments since 2011, when I was lucky enough to be introduced by themselves to their wonderful music. Since then, I've been a huge fan of their style, a style that might be labeled as post/atmospheric/melancholic/experimental-rock, but that has a sound that at least to me, is near to unique.

In this 2017 they have just released a new and beautiful record entitled "Vixit", a 3-song album that has touched me every single time I listened to it. It is impressive how Battlestations manage to create profound music, atmospheres that hit you in your most hidden emotions and that will make you see things in a different way. Sorry If it seems that I am exaggerating a little bit, but Vixit has been with me in these past two months when I needed music the most. The experience while I listen to it is beyond words, very special and moving, so it is like a therapy when I want to see a new dawn in my daily basis.

The first part is the longest of them all. Entitled simply "I", this 24-minute piece seems to have only black and white colors, but while the time pass you will realize it is a colorful theme that creates countless images, it depends on the listener, but man, I sort of have times of introspection while listen to it, and better, I foresee a bright future in my life. When music hits you like this, it means it has succeeded. I love the use of the multi-layered synths and of course, the wonderful addition of the choirs, so in moments it seems to be taking us to a blend of Mediaeval with current technological times. It is impressive that every time I listen to it, the 24 minutes pass naturally and fast, it doesn't happen that often, I mean, with some other music the 15, even 10 minute-tracks can be tedious or difficult to enjoy, but this one flows and produces on me a high feeling of satisfaction. Beautiful and disarming!

"II" is the short song, a 3-minute piece based on piano that produces a melancholic sound in a classical way, surrounded by those atmospheric backgrounds made by synths. It leads to "III", the final track that is another long one, a 14-minute piece that is like the reborn of new hopes, is like witnessing a new life, a brand new day. Ambient music combined with some beautiful orchestrations and electronic sounds that might even remind us of some older musicians/bands such as Brian Eno or Popol Vuh. Be careful because this track might also give you lots of emotions, you will feel at peace but maybe, you will cry before reaching peace. Its depth can be better appreciated with decent headphones but most of all, with an open mind and the will to receive a solid musical concept, a extremely beautiful whole.

Thank you for this music, it has come to my life in the perfect moment. Enjoy it!

Report this review (#1773574)
Posted Monday, August 21, 2017 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars These guys have come so far! From the almost-cheezy computer sounds and mis-timed instrumental performances of their flawed (but brilliant) debut, In a Cold Embrance, in 2012, the band has developed a stronghold in cinematic music-making far beyond anyone that I know of who is not doing film or television scores. Seriously, this may be the best "score"-that's-not-a-score or liturgical-piece-that's-not-meant-for-church (or maybe it is meant for church--a requiem or elegy) that I've ever heard. Period. James Newton Howard, Howard Shore, Hans Zimmer, Ennio Morricone, John Williams, James Horner, Rachel Portman, Danny Elfman, Alexandre Desplat have got nothing on these guys. Don't know if you still want to consider this prog since there are no drums or seering electric guitars, but it is definitely musical perfection, musical

1. "Vixit I" (24:02) As majestic and beautiful as the most beautiful Beethoven, Górecki, or Samuel Barber work. Broad washes of slowly moving strings with big choral sounds make this truly a spiritually moving experience. (10/10)

2. "Vixit II (3:21) piano, sparse, distant synth sounds, occasional noise from some kind of unidentified stringed instrument (the same one used in the first song of their debut album, "Prologue: Nature Morte / You're Not Welcome Here"), floating, panning synth washes. This must be Heaven. (9.5/10)

3. "Vixit III" (14:05) opens with the most electronica sounding passages on the album: panning synth, poppy voice choir, Mellotron and other synth washes, Very New Age-like--though the synths in the sixth and seventh minute sound like I'm YES heaven (the end section of "Awaken"). Love the return to old themes at 7:20! And then church choir rejoins with a FOCUS (Tommy Barlage) "Tommy" melody until the eleventh minute when it shifts dominant notes with the strings, bass, and tuned percussives giving it a little The Gathering If_then_else feel and sound to it. The final vocal section has an individual-sounding female alto voice carrying the lead--though this is still heavily mixed within the thick syrupy walls of synthesized sounds. This one is far more nostalgic and segmented yet it flows as well as any symphonic piece. (9.5/10)

Five stars; a shining masterpiece of progressive electronic music.

Report this review (#1801689)
Posted Sunday, October 8, 2017 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars BATTLESTATIONS are a mysterious band out of Belgium who purposely keep a lot of information to themselves about the music. I'm pretty sure they are fans of Horror movies judging from the album covers of "In A Cold Embrace" and "The Extent Of Damage" and this is especially true of that video link that some got with "The Extent Of Damage". I am so not into disturbing images or videos. Anyway the music on both of those albums didn't come across as being as creepy or evil as the album covers and video would suggest.

So they really threw me a curve with this their latest album 'Vixit". The music sounds like something you'd hear in a centuries old church in Europe somewhere. We get mostly synths and orchestration(usually in the form of strings) plus real choirs. There's also some piano, percussion and maybe electronics at one point and maybe some guitar. The Latin word "Vixit" means "lived" and the Romans often used this when referring to someone who died not wanting to focus on the loss but on the fact the person did live. Of course the album cover shows a person who is clearly dead floating upwards to the sky and the music here would seem to be the soundtrack to this event. Yes this record comes across heavily as being a soundtrack album in my opinion.

The album is divided into three passages or songs ranging from the 24 minute opener to the 3 1/2 middle section to the 14 minute closer. The music sounds samey so it could easily have been one seamless piece but the divisions are there for a reason. There's so much atmosphere usually in the form of synths or strings and the choirs I swear at some points cry "Holy" over and over. This is pretty cool but maybe for me it's just me and my beliefs that when I die it will be all about light and love with no darkness to be found.

I have played this many times and it's just not appealing to me at all even though I think it should. Two reviewers on here who I respect gave it 5 stars but I can't even give it 4 stars as I really have no desire to spin this again. I was glad of course to hear this and this new direction they have taken. Clearly I'm in the minority looking around the internet at some other reviews. Check it out!

Report this review (#1819047)
Posted Saturday, November 4, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars Obviously, Battlestations is not necessarily going to be palatable to everyone's tastes. (What is?!?!?)

Post Rock/Math Rock is not normally a genre that I'm super incredibly familiar with and is a bit "outside of the wheelhouse" in regards to my own playing and writing.

But from my first exposure to Return/Mr. Abject, I've been in absolute awe of this project. The phenomenal level of craftsmanship evidenced on all their releases is certainly impressive. To me, there are some certain touchpoints to some of the more ambient portions of David Sylvian's music, but Battlestations most certainly have their own thing going on here...

As an aside, there are moments that I'm thoroughly convinced that this is some mystery project from Kevin Moore and Jim Matheos, and then I'm equally, absolutely convinced that it's not... (TNK: Tomorrow Never Knows) [If this turns out to be Steven Wilson, won't I be embarrassed?!?!?]


This is indescribably beautiful, almost unearthly music. Layer upon layer of ideas executed flawlessly, engineered and produced magnificently. The playing and writing, the music theory formulas of the melodic/harmonic sections and the chord structures, specifically with regard to their movement(s) both complementary and contrapuntal are exceptional.

And that CHOIR!!! Whether these are synthetic or real voices (or some combination thereof), the choral portions of this release are so well written, constructed and performed, so movingly beautiful, and startlingly original. I've never heard anything quite like it. (And as with fellow PA reviewer Mellotron Storm, I also hear "Holy, Holy, Holy" repeated throughout the choral sections).

With Battlestations, (to my ears) there always seems to be an undercurrent of menace running throughout their compositions, sometimes overt, other times so incredibly subtle. And this remains true on Vixit. However, to me this is a positive thing as it keeps me engaged with what I'm hearing.

For some, this would be nothing more than background music, and it's okay if you hear it like that. But I've found whether through speakers or headphones, Battlestations will keep you very interested if you give the music the chance to unfold at its own pace, and allow yourself to become a part of it by your listening (somewhat akin to a variation of the Observer Effect: In physics, the observer effect is the theory that simply observing a situation or phenomenon necessarily changes that phenomenon).

I really am impressed with and genuinely love this. So wonderfully interesting and unique.

For its sheer originality and ingenuity in its writing, performance, engineering & production, Vixit is a 5 star release.

As always, your actual mileage may vary.

Grace and peace, Cylli (Jim)

Report this review (#1999138)
Posted Thursday, August 23, 2018 | Review Permalink

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