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CD Feature/ Procer Veneficus: "Saltwater and Glassmoon"; Underjordiska & Spectral Lore: "s/t"

img  Tobias

These are strange worlds Derek Schultz keeps returning to. Ever since he made his grand entry on the Dark Ambient scene four years ago with a prolific release schedule of three full-lenghts, an EP and a self-released Demo over the course of the first twelve months of his career, his music has kept wandering off to the outskirts of the mind and to sombre spaces of yearning which take on almost physical form and tangibility. Clearly he hasn't found what he is looking for yet: „Salwater & Glassmoon“, his tenth original publication under the Procer Veneficus banner, is still digging for answers in the same old muddy waters of fear, hope and dark romance.

Compared to its immediate predecessor, an extended re-release of his early opum „Deathwanderings“, which sampled and re-mystified material by Chopin, Satie and Schubert, this new work comes across as less experimental in conceptual terms and as more typical of the genre. Schultz has wiped out anything but the bare essence from his canvas, reduced his pallette to nothing but a few delicately scraping noises and emperial Synthesizer swells and approached composing very much like travelling on a hot air balloon: Weightlessly and without concrete destinations, emotionally unstable chord progressions slowly gravitate from their original meaning into galaxies of uncertainty and frightening improbability. The dynamic range of „Saltwater & Glassmoon“ is extensive, even though you'll have to listen very closely to actually catch the subtle nuances of these fragile sighs, which sometimes lapse back into or come fading in from almost complete silence.

The floating sensation of being immersed in water as well as states between waking, dreaming and being drugged appear to be the main themes of these majestic excursions. The minimalism of the album supports this endeavour, creating raw, animalistic ambiances and inviting the brain to conjure up hauntingly detailed visions from nothing but vague notions at harmony and development – on many instances, the idea of what you're hearing here is much more powerful than the actual compositions themselves. It is the suggestive tone of „Saltwater & Glassmoon“ which turns it into a record which rewards repeat listens and begs for further inquiry: By any reasonable measure, Derek Schultz isn't through with these worlds yet.

There is an important link between the latest Procer Veneficus and the Split EP of Underjordiska and Spectral Lore on the same label: Creating tension between naked sound on the one hand and musical shapes on the other and uniting these two elements into seamless arrangements of sometimes epic proportions. Hailing from the small but gradually growing group of Ambient Black Metal projects, Spectral Lore's Ayloss and Underjordiska's Dawid Dahl place consumptive Guitar- and Mandolin patterns alongside the foreboding electronic tapestry, integrating field recordings of lazy days at the beach into angelically ringing drones. And whenever they return into the oblivious void, the aforementioned bipolarity shines through even clearer.

The overall impression of these two independently realised but astoundingly complimentary thirty-something-minute tracks is therefore timbrally rich and thematically diverse. While Dahl builds his piece modularly, taking it through a string of musical passages, the Spectral Lore contribution is rather shaped like a curve, slowly oscillating between anthemic noise and vaporous darkness. The stoic refusal of many genre-related releases to take their ostrich-like head from the sands of sadness is counterpointed by an approach which never rests on its laurels while placing seminal importance on ambient coherency: Diversity and darkness, they teach us, need not be a contradiction.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Procer Veneficus
Homepage: Underjordiska
Homepage: Stellar Auditorium Records