Mathias Grassow & Rüdiger Gleisberg – Ad Lucem


[Reviewed by stark]

The first seconds of this album surprised me with quite an intense and concrete dark ambient. I began to wonder if this time Mathias Grassow and Rüdiger Gleisberg haven’t staked on darkness, fear and terror – a fact that, no matter from which angle you look at it, would be quite surprising. However, not even a minute passes and everything goes back to normal.

Mathias Grassow and Rüdiger Gleisberg have known each other and have been creating music together for years. Under their own names, as well as those of KarmaCosmic and Nostalgia. “Ad Lucem” contains six long compositions confirming the highest form of both musicians and the Swedish gterma label. After the cold start of “Arcane” mesmeric drones quickly come to the fore, and with them the feminine whisper that calls to the mystical depth, which Grassow is known for, adding some ethereal sensuality. The end result is truly remarkable. “Cicada” begins with a gently Middle Eastern feeling, spreading before your mind’s eye the view of Alhambra at dawn, the walk through empty corridors and gardens, listening to the echoes of history. I had similar sentiments while listening to Alio Die’s “Deconsecrated and Pure”, even though the Italian project uses other means of ambient expression in comparison to the ones utilized by these two Germans.

In the third, title composition one should notice the short samples straight from classical music, pressed into the drone matter. They were present in “Arcane” and “Cicada”, but due to the relatively low-key tone of the main drone, you pay more attention to all of these sounds that rotate around it. The same composition is flirting with dark ambient and the bass drones made that I had to turn on the light, even though I write these words at 4pm. Also, “Mirabile Dictum” is not the most serene composition in the world. It seems quite static, though later the atmosphere becomes more bright. There are also some oriental chants, deep in the background, of course. The listener has no choice but to lie down on the floor and let the spirit wander with an aural drift.

Female vocals refine “Sapere Aude”. Again, somewhere between the sounds echoes of the Middle Ages reach my ears, as in many of the later albums by Alio Die, although Stefano creates the mood more directly. “Nova Incognita” is about half as short as the other pieces, and at the same time it seems that this finale of “Ad Lucem” is its most intense track in terms of sound. It is like a journey into the unknown, where the end is a new beginning. And with the last sounds passing, you’ll feel sad that the music will soon be gone. At least on “Ad Lucem”. And that we’ll have to wait for the next work of one or the other musician. Or both together, because as you can see they understand each other perfectly.

Mathias Grassow & Rüdiger GleisbergAd Lucem
gterma, gterma041
CD 2014

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