Architrav – Marode


[Reviewed by Peter Marks]

An album which is composed of three long form tracks, nothing more. A minimal exercise in locations, times and settings. “Marode” will take you places, my friends, places which are quite beautiful. With regard to his other two albums, his latest is grimier and has a greater emphasis on rough textures. To sum up, this isn’t pretty like his previous record and it is nowhere nearly as ordered as his debut “Arctic Museum”. If you’re a fan of more abrasive ambient material then this one is going to be an excellent addition to what you listen to in the course of a day, but be advised, this is a night time release. Sunny days and softly billowing leaves in the breeze your speed? Give this one a wide berth.

There are, naturally, some constants which materialize in Architrav’s work no matter how much everything else may change. To play “Marode” is to be alone, cut off from all around you. Patient zero in a crowd of nauseatingly shallow humanity; one by one the transmissions are made, those crackles and pops cunningly placed on ‘Diele’ lure in the unwary. Isolated in a decrepit room at a dusty piano while the chandelier groans ominously above you, but all your fingers can do is seek out the keys. The world outside may burn but you don’t care, nothing matters except what is going on in your own mind… Bedeviled on one hand by solace and tantalized by squirming, turgid emotion on the other, where has the balance gone? A conclave of convoluted thoughts thrash this way and that.

You’ll find only three pieces on “Marode”, let me state that again. Each composition he’s penned is given the full length that is required for it to manifest at it’s peak potency. You’re out on a pile of rubble in tattered clothes while the forces of mechanized order draw closer and closer, all the better to seal your fate. Escape is not possible, nor is it even desirable. Listening to these sometimes brutally delicate songs, I can feel the weight of the world bearing down on me. Atmospheric pressure continues to build and build, can the externalizing systems we as a species have developed to protect ourselves withstand all of this? Personally, I doubt it but given how much cheap veneering people guild themselves with, I’m more than ready to witness their implosion.

When I read of musicians who decide to let their ambient side out, it generally means they’ve run out of ideas and are just going to bore my ears to pieces. This is not, and has never been, the case with Michael Belletz’s Architrav project. While he and his comrade Sebastian Schultz run off the map chasing down their own visions of experimentation in music, when left to his own devices Belletz opens up the sky to let the stars shine down upon us in coldly stern mastery. It really is just impossible to come away from what he does under this name with any other feeling besides humility because in the grand scope of this universe we’re a bothersome speck on someone’s magnifying glass and nothing else.

The dramas and intrigues humanity distracts itself with in order to avoid the larger issue of our own coming irrelevance cannot exist in the space which “Marode” has transformed into a vast, lifeless void. This is the third work our hero has done and it wouldn’t be out of line at all to say that despite it’s somewhat short duration it has become my favorite. I may have to go back to “Arctic Museum” again for confirmation but wow, he’s seriously changed the sound of this endeavor. It’s really amazing to listen to him at work here, you’d be wise to track this down.

Halbsicht Records, HS010
CD-r/Digital 2013

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