[Reviewed by: Iaha Crax]
A new unexpected colaboration is born between Anna Murphy and Tor-Helge Skei . She is a vocalist and also plays hurdy-gurdy, flute, bass…and she has a solo pop-rock electronic album out in 2013, “Cellar Darling”, very effective for any mainstream radio. And of course, she is the image and premium interpreter of Eluveitie (at Nuclear Blast), a band that represents ‘the new wave of folk metal’: Swiss melodic pop/ deathmetal infused by Celtic melodies. Tor-Helge Skei has been known as Cernunnus on the cult Manes record “Under Ein Blodraud Maane”, as well as on his transmigration on Manii’s “Kollaps”, and then recovered the name he had before his marriage to black metal, for his next records. Additional info: Debemur Morti announces that Tor will join Vindsval (BAN) on his revival of The Eye project…
And now we have Lethe, where the duo put to a peaceful oblivion everything they have done so far with their previous bands, in favour of creating a new, uncompromised identity. It’s impossible not to remember the bold musical register used on the fascinating “Vilosophe” and “How the World Came To An End”.
The first track from Lethe, “In motion”, uses that refined manner of composition characteristic to the aforementioned records, adding an orchestral consistency and, of course, Anna Murphy’ way of singing, molded interestingly on the music. “Haunted” is an electronic trip-hop voyage of an earthly, even mundane taste. Her voice adds a bizarre, vaporous fumigant that infiltrates the space around. In such cases, the border delineating facile, catchy music from real artistic offerings seems to almost vanish.
The mood and the listener’s will or capacity to erase all prejudice and expectations is what functions in order to outshine the real value for this sort of music. “Come Look At The Darkness With Me” belongs to this category, so that you may be fully obsessed with its atmosphere or remain indifferent, and yet not at all annoyed. Lethe’s record is surely very experimental and the sound register changes from one song to another. “Ad Librum”, with its sludgy bass line, followed by the electro-poppy “Love Pass Filter” and then the electro-industrial regression of “Oblivion”. We can find space ambient touches (maybe à la Tangerine Dream) on “You” and a touch of German industrial metal on “Transparent”. “No reason” is the longest track in the album, ranging on the melting pot of several sounds on the background of an impotent trance.
The disc ends with “When Dreams Become Nightmares”, a darkly chill-out melody themed on the ‘back alleys of the human mind’ as Tor-Helge Skei put it somewhere. A simple piano moves along on distant noises and lamentable vocals (as perhaps Ulver would do when in a hangover state) until the song may very well become your nightmare.
Tor-Helge Skei said in an interview for thelebanesecookie.blogspot.no that he sees Lethe as the sum of various parts and not a strict concept, his words indicating the eclectic nature of this record. With great simplicity and dexterity he has chosen elements from different genres to depict various moods that you may choose to like or not, with the same simplicity.