|Der Blaue Reiter|
Sathorys Elenorth is known for his participation in the excellent project Narsilion which brings to life visions of a fantasy world through their exquisite music. As a solo artist (with various collaborations) he has brought to life Der Blaue Reiter as a post-apocalyptic and military, dark ambient project. While there are some similarities to Narsilion because of his obvious artistic approach, this really has little to do with that band. The name originally comes from a group of artists from the early 20th century (1911) formed in Munich, Germany based mainly around the artist Wassily Kandinsky. Though it's questionable whether this has anything to do with the name of this project other than possible artistic inspiration.
His debut album was a sort of concept album based around the tragedies of Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II and so you can feel the militaristic drums as well as the dark and sad moods permeate the music. This was our first introduction to this project and the apocalyptic, sad world that is painted around the tragedies of reality. At this time it was just the solo project of Sathorys with the help of various contributors, including Lady Nott also from Narsilion. From there, Lady Nott joined full time and they released Silencis as the sophomore album which continued along these thematic lines, combining dark ambient, militaristic percussiona nd ethereal beauty for a tragic soundscape boiling over with emotion. In 2009 we were quickly introduced to their third album which also takes on a thematic approach, this time in memorium of the Chernobyl disaster with the album appropriately named Nuclear Sun.
Fans of dark ambient and dark folk music will really love this band. They had their first two releases on the excellent spanish label Caustic Records and were picked up for their third release by Black Rain / Ars Musica Diffundere out of Germany. It is great to see this band receive the attention and promotion they deserve, don't miss out on these wonderful works.
Nuclear Sun - Review
Without much of a break, this project is back with their third full-length album, this time taking on the thematic approach of remembering the loss and tragedy of the Chernobyl disaster through heart-breaking dark, sad, yet beautiful music. The album features ten solid tracks similar in style to their previous works, but in a whole new theme and approach.
We start out with the happy sounds of traditional, happy music in "The children of Chernobyl" that slowly fades into the sounds of dark, forboding pulsating electronics and on to the sad, beauty of piano, violin and layered electronics. Going through this transition hits many of the elements of this group that I enjoy so much. It's all mostly instrumental except for samples here and there, but the transitions each tell a story, portray a mood or event so perfectly, lending to the theme which can play out on the stage of your mind. This beautiful piece fades as we hear the militaristic, dark industrial sounds of "Fourth Reactor" and then goes through more dark ambient and classical transitions to "Radioactive" that builds up to the militaristic march that is the core of this track.
At this point we're brought back to the spellbinding captivating beauty of the mixture of piano, violin and layers of synths on "The last days of Pripiath". This track shows how the innermost struggles and sadness can come out through beautiful music for an uplifting and memorable piece that slowly fades into a dark ambient nightmare that is so essential to the story behind this music. "1st of May" comes out strong as one of the most solid militaristic industrial piece from this project with layers of percussion and electronics. "The Fall of Light" blends well and continues along this same pattern with heavy percussion creating a heavy mood though spoken chants over these heavy soundscapes. These fade into the haunting dark ambient piece "Walking to the Abyss" which brings up visuals of disaster, darkness, people in protective gear as they search or assess the disaster. But even this gradually gives way to beautiful music with violin and other layered instruments for an uplifting end to the darkness.
At this point we're brought to the final trio of tracks with "Nuclear Sun" casting it's dark shadow over the music with more dark ambience, chants and hints of percussion. "The liquidators" is a completely spellbinding piece, once again starting off with haunting piano, giving way to a symphony of electronics that are captivating and beautiful, but fading somewhat into darkness once again, but never really dissipating, but remaining intact and ever present. The finale to the album is the 6 1/2 minute "End credits - in memorium" with all the great elements of this band all mixed together into one track for a perfect way to end the album. Fans will really enjoy this dynamic and captivating work, these artists have done a terrific job in captivating the moods, story and hope perfectly in music.
Silencis - Review
This is the second album from this project and on this album Lady Nott appears as a regular member of the group contributing her vocals occasionally as well as violin. It comes packaged in an awesome tri-fold digipack with beautiful, yet mysterious artwork to match the foreboding and dark music. It comes presented in four chapters touching on sadness, death, order and chaos and so on to create a story of the human triumph through dark times.
The story unfolds and kicks off with "Prologue - Into the end of the World" which opens up with a slowly ticking metronome and distant piano in spellbinding reverie to captivate the listener. This then fades and transforms into the dark ambience of despair as the apocalyptic and oppressive sounds slowly build and overpower the beauty of the piano. There is a good mix of gregorian chants fading in and out of the oppressive moods as it slowly fades and the drums kick in. These drums provide the intro to "Eyes of the Lost", a favorite and masterpiece from this album featuring both members doing spoken word, chanting vocals over the moving militaristic drums. Again the music fades and by listening to the album all the way through in it's entirety, there are no definite breaks except as we change from one chapter to the next, it all becomes one long composition fading from one mood and ambient style to the next.
There are so many treats on this album if you really listen well. One I picked up on as a fan of QNTAL is the medieval classic opera piece "Remember Me" sung almost as background music to "Death and Decadance". The beautiful operatic vocals continue as a mix of dark ambient sounds permeate the air and almost random piano and violin seemingly fade in and out of existence through this piece finally building and becoming the prominent element towards the end. There are little things like this that fade in and out of different pieces that really make this album stand out as a great experiment in different instruments and styles. The addition of various samples here and there also provide for extra layers and interesting tidbits like seasoning on good food.
With this style of album it's hard to pick out tracks as favorites or even just provide selections for the radio shows. However, there are various elements that will stand out in one way or another depending on the listener's particular tastes. Overall the various moods and styles are mixed so well and with the underlying dark ambient themes, it's captivating in many ways, leading through despair and sadness through to new hope and bright future. These are portrayed well in pieces like "Ascension" and "Ascension Part II" as intros to their specific chapters on the album. The dark and forboding sounds build and lead us on to other tracks that then become bright and cheerful through various string, piano, and vocal samples such as "Retrospective" and "Victoria".
In the end the listener has been brought through a roller coaster of emotions, beautiful soundscapes and waves of terror and despair. But in the end the piano plays and the metronome ticks away as we move on with our lives overcoming one thing after another with new hope at the end of the darkest days. This is truly another masterpiece from these talented artists.
Le Paradise Funebre, L'envers Du Tristesse - Review
While I enjoy many dark ambient groups, many focus more on the "dark" and haunting which can be very experimental and make it hard to really sit down and listen to the album. So, while I was excited about this project based on my love of the music from Narsilion I also understood this to be a completely separate work and so I held my reservations and expectations until I listened to the album entirely through. Luckily in general this is a superb piece of work that includes an excellent dynamic range of music and moods ranging from the pounding military drums through many tracks to the beautiful piano or dark, yet dreamy strings.
Favorites for me and probably for fans that lean more toward the ethereal styles with their haunting beauty include many pieces with piano and dreamy strings and synths, and of course any angelic vocals. The album starts off with "Underworld Dreams" which is one of these that drifts from dreamy classical opera into dark and haunting percussion that drags along like a funeral dirge. An obvious favorite is "Garden of Solitude". This piece is absolutely spellbinding with church bells fading to piano, including somber chants and dark, distant percussion, much like a soundtrack to a dream. Starting off the second part of the album with "Regret" which is a carnival piece that slowly fades into one of the most beautiful angelic pieces I've heard with whispered male vocals underneath haunting siren vocals. This is the closest this album gets to sounding like Narsilion and so fans will absolutely love this track.
Of the harsher, more militaristic pieces I really enjoy of course the first piece as it fades into this style. However, my favorite lies with "The Grave of Mankind" with the excellent pounding drums alternating left and right channels with superb production and an excellent reverb. Many other pieces follow close behind as the entire album is a nice work. "Into Heaven's Maze" is a sort of march and includes a "remixed" version which has vocals put to it as a nice touch above and beyond the original version.
With that the album comes to a close and I have to congratulate Sathorys in this work and recommend it to any fans of these related genres.
Label: Black Rain / Ars Musica Diffundere
Label: Caustic Records