It is great to be introduced to great new projects in the ethereal shoegaze scene as well as be reunited in a way with former favorite artists. This band is a welcome addition and many people here will recognize the name of Dru Allen and her work with This Ascension, Falling You and Mirabilis, all of which continue to get airplay here. The other half of this project is the talented multi-intrumentalist Erick R. Scheid who also has a past with the group Translucia. After meeting in 2010, the two began collaborating and we were presented with the masterpiece debut album a few years later. Joined by bassist Cindy Coulter (also of This Ascension and Faith and the Muse fame), they continued to put their great talents to use as they created their sophomore album for release in 2016 that showcases their mature and captivating style. The music is an excellent collaboration of ambient electronics and soaring guitars as the backdrop to Dru's heavenly vocals. Fans of Love Spirals Downwards and Lycia will love the music from this project.
Beneath The Serene - Review
After the captivating first release from this band, it is great to have this, their sophomore album in our hands. Still feeling like their debut work is fresh and enjoying several tracks as ethereal favorites, it's great to have another seven spellbinding pieces on this album. Though breaking the pattern somewhat of their initial album of many tracks with ambient interludes between the ethereal and shoegaze masterpieces, we have just these seven solid selections, some which just meld the ambient and ethereal sounds while others grind away with siren-like vocals over equally soaring guitars and various reverb effects.
The opening piece "Le Spectre Concubine" is a combination of haunting ambient soundscapes, a ghostly spoken word and ethereal shoegaze which provides a nice intro to this dreamy album. This fades softly away into the distance as a definite favorite on this album comes out in all of it's majestic beauty in the form of "Ivy Tree Shore". The broken, softly strumming guitar chords mix with Dru's beautiful vocals over somber bass and ambient musical strands weave together into a beautiful web that holds the listener entranced and spellbound throughout. The soaring guitars and angel-like vocals lift the listener's heart to the heavens as the slowly, pulsating beat keep it moving along the magical rhythm. The haunting vocals and deep synths introduce us to "Chrysalis", a darker, haunting piece with the grinding guitars and effects creating a dense emotional fog, while the soaring guitars keep you afloat in the hazy soundscapes. All of this slowly moves and floats along, slowly building and coming to a dynamic and powerful climax before fading off and giving way to the dreamy instrumental piece "Silvren". While still equally spellbinding with all of the soft and dreamy ethereal ambient elements and ascending guitar, it serves as a sort of long interlude before presenting the latter half of the album.
At this point we're presented with the title track of the album which is a pure masterpiece in ethereal shoegaze music. The somber, subtle percussion moves the music along while Dru's vocals take the lead as the ambient sounds form the backdrop and in between verses, the guitar takes on a voice of it's own as the various layers form one upon the other. The way these envelop the listener like soft, silky sheets one over the other makes this piece warm and inviting and equally hypnotic and enrapturing. Lasting just over seven minutes, at times I feel like it could go on forever and never become tiring or boring, simply beautiful. However, this isn't the longest piece on the album as we're presented with the ambient instrumental "Migration". Taking on a sort of dark ambient nature this piece slowly moves along and depending on the mood of the listener, sometimes I find myself jumping to the next track as I long for more of the ethereal beauty, while at other times, just enjoying some somber background music makes this the perfect non-invasive soundtrack. The finale to the album "Into Lost and Away" brings out all the staple elements along with more undulating synthetic layers over a more moving, catchy rhythm all accented by dynamic guitars and dreamy vocals to create a perfect ending to this excellent album.
A Waking Ghost Inside - Review
From the first moment I heard teaser tracks from this band, I knew I was hooked. I've been a fan of the aforementioned bands for many years. One of my first exposures to ethereal heavenly voices was with Love Spirals Downwards and on more of the rock side to This Ascension. This album brings together all of the best elements from these projects and styles and the band puts their own touch on it all for a truly captivating album. With sixteen tracks, there is some great material here which was surprising with so many bands just releasing small 3 or 4 track EP's at first. This was a real pleasant surprise to have a true full-length album to sit down and cuddle up with, to enjoy to it's fullest as the reverberating soundscapes and heavenly vocals carress the listener wave after wave.
The perfection begins right from the start with the introduction to the album in the form of "An Offering". The soft and soothing, yet distorted guitars and electronic ambient sounds build and grow, morphing and moving slowly until fading out and giving way to the soft, sweet strumming guitar of "The Guides". The acoustic nature of this piece makes it soft and slow, a perfect back-drop as Dru's vocals join for a great mix. With these pieces the listener starts to get a taste of what's in store over the next hour from this album. It has so much to offer and the listener just has to sit back and close their eyes and relax, enjoy the captivating sounds of Mercury's Antennae.
After listening to the album a few times, a few tracks stood out to me as absolutely captivating and favorite pieces. The entire album is spellbinding and beautiful, with the ambient interludes that come interspersed throughout the album. The structure of the album makes it such that listening from start to finish is ideal. However, to pick out a few tracks, such as I did for the Ethereal Mix radio show, a few stand out on their own very well. The first of these is "The Way You Purr". Like the previous track, the acoustic slow-strummed guitar is present, but with added reverb and with additional backing electronics. A soft and somber beat is added, just enough to make the listener sway and slowly move, and the guitar varies from verse to chorus creating a soaring climax that shoegaze fans will love. This all forms a beautiful audio tapestry interwoven together perfectly as a back-drop to Dru's angelic vocals. The layers of elecronics, guitars and vocals all come together to perfection across this piece as I find myself listening to it over and over again. A little bit later on the album we're presented with another true gem in "City of Moving Clouds". All of the powerful and beautiful elements previously described come together again on this piece, yet creating a slightly different ambience and distinct piece. The strumming guitar is simple without as much reverb, though that definitely kicks in as the piece moves along. The soaring affects launch the listener into the ether, floating softly over the morphing electronics and guitars as Dru's vocals carress and form a sort of instrument on their own. Other tracks with similar style and beauty that are noteworthy come in the form of the "Elendil" or "The Sweet Scent of Rain" and the finale to the album "Le Chant des Sirenes".
Fans of ambient, ethereal and shoegaze, don't hesitate, go out and pick up this album. This is a great new classic, something treasured and definitely a great gem and addition to our collection here.
Label: Projekt Records