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Alfheimr - The End of Greatness CD (album) cover

THE END OF GREATNESS

Alfheimr

 

Post Rock/Math rock

4.00 | 1 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Not the end of greatness. Pretty great.

Alfheimr is the moniker for a one-man project by Madison Asche, whom I believe hails from the west coast USA but is now based in Australia. He began putting together music almost a decade ago now and had a prolific period around 2011 garnering the attention of post-rock blogs and sites. He followed with some acoustic albums under the name Patron Saint of Bridge Burners. Now in 2016 comes his best work to date from what I can tell, ironically titled "The End of Greatness." While I only sampled bits and pieces of his many earlier Alfheimr recordings, I liked this new one better than anything prior. He has described his work as akin to therapy, music being something that can and does hold despair at bay for the creator just as it does for many of us listeners.

I have almost no idea how the hell to review this work other than to start with....I truly loved it. It can be noisy and irritating one minute and so colorfully interesting and beautiful the next. It isn't typical post-rock based on my fairly light post-rock resume, the closest semi succinct, light-hearted description I can muster is a love child between the weirdest, early, harsh-wild Bright Eyes songs, the oceanic Echo Us "Tomorrow Will Tell the Story" album, and perhaps the spirit of John Frusciante's "Niandra Lades and T-shirt" album, which finds JF as far from a chili pepper as you could imagine.

It's a long, expansive feeling trip as it should be for a self described "space rock opera." Asche plays everything I believe and there are a variety of interesting keyboard textures and percussion/electronics programming. There is stylish and original use of guitar and effects. Sometimes it sounds a bit cold and computerish on the production side, yes it can be pretentious and several times I questioned why this man was throwing some of the more annoying sound effects over melodies I was trying to enjoy--but such is the price we pay to hear such a grand trip. My wheels spun furiously trying to extract the moments of beauty from the mire, wanting to listen again each time it ended. I finally realized the turbulence served the materially beautifully, not unlike in life.

Things build, ease a bit, fall into place. As said, you eventually begin to enjoy the hysteria as much as the more calming sections. Inventive avenues are pursued, color everywhere, personality, pain, release. "The Scattering" is just monster post-rock building to climax. Other tracks vary from laid back (though still intense) soundscapes to quirky keyboard experimentations (fun!) all the way to post-rock that really rocks, with feverish drumming and guitar. Sometimes it recalls NIN but so much more appealing than Trent's vibe. Asche's voice can be abrasive when he is in that Conor Oberst angst mode but it can also be utilized perfectly into this lovely, fragile, sorrowful, falsetto, another piece of the sound fabric here.

Over 80 minutes this album could be what we oldsters used to call a "double album." I confess (slightly blushing) to breaking the album into four vinyl sides in my mind and it worked shockingly well (tracks 1-3, 4-8, 9-11, 12-14). I was just interested in hearing the aura in that context rather than one 80-minute piece. And despite the fact this is "modern" music it has the larger than life and somewhat mysterious feel of those double albums of old. It takes some time to delve into and feel comfortable with. It's an album for the long hall. Its unsettled and irreverent attitude may not appeal to the "mainstream prog fans" but for those who like things unconstrained and a bit "all over the map", this album may just make your week. It certainly did mine. Really great work Madison, don't let it be the "end."

Finnforest | 4/5 |

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