[Reviewed by: Damiano Lanzi]
Since the eighties Kirlian Camera has been one of the most influential formations in the Italian darkwave scene, their reputation widely acknowledged even abroad, as they’ve cooperated over the years with international artists such as Jarboe. Angelo Bergamini (former member and deus ex machina of the project) has been a true pioneer of Italian electronic music and thanks to his innovative spirit, Kirlian Camera’s sound has always been up to date record after record, while other bands fossilized on old, reactionary sounds for lack of new ideas. Just listen to the amazing trance synth programming in “Heavens” to understand how modern this band’s sound can be. The other half of the current formation, singer Elena Alice Fossi, has a gothic, technical voice and also plays piano, synths and even theremin.
The recurring themes in the lyrics are darkness, death and being marginalized by society for your ideals. There seems to be a concept behind “Black Summer Choirs” and this idea is assisted by the four “Final Interviews”, where guest star Lloyd James from Naevus contributes with his spoken word over dark ambient layers. These four tracks may seem a filler, but they definitely give more depth to the plot, depicting the story of a dark congregation that plans to “destroy the Sun” and to rule the world through a dictatorship where feelings and emotions are banned (“try to imagine long centuries without force coming from life or from tears”). The result is fascinating: the music is highly visual and imaginative and the listener is introduced into a vivid, futuristic, detailed cyberpunk world. Another precious guest is Ralf Jesek of Derrière Le Miroir and In My Rosary, who sings in “Words”, one of the strongest songs of the album, melting together dark elements and acoustic guitars – that we find again in the neofolk-inspired “Farewell Road”.
Despite its gloomy atmosphere “Black Summer Choirs” is constellated by well crafted and catchy melodies, as it happens in the beautiful chorus of “Black August” and in many other episodes that show Kirlian Camera’s ability to be pop and alternative at the same time. Another remarkable moment is the opener “Silencing The World”, with a nice contrast between cellos and harsh 808 drum machine cymbals, but the finest piece in the album is probably “Materia Oscura”, that crosses between different genres with drum‘n’bass production techniques and Arab strings. Towards the end of the song, Elena Alice’s vocal track also seems to be sung backwards and then reversed to give the feel of an exotic language to this verse (although it’s actually the only one in Italian in the album).
The album closes with “Barren Cornfields”, with a classical chord progression that revolves in a growingly desolated and apocalyptic atmosphere, and with the ambient coda of “Stranger In An Abandoned Station”. Once again Kirlian Camera maintains its status of an inventive cult band, with a great-sounding, well produced record.