[Reviewed by stark]
Three years have passed since Sphäre Sechs’ debut album “Tiefschlaf”, and now this German duo returns with another release for Malignant Records. The title is “Enceladus”, and the music contained on it is as beautiful as it is threatening and overwhelming.
Christian Stritzel and Martin Stürtzer, the latter known from Phelios, have abandoned their exploration of the human mind for an astral journey, where concepts such as time and space lose their raison d’être. One could say that conceptually speaking it may be close to the current image of Phelios, especially when comparing this to their debut album; well, maybe it is, but musically the story is a little different.
The title of the album refers to the actual celestial body. Enceladus is one of the moons of Saturn, the sixth largest. Seeking information about it I came across some completely fresh news: that supposedly liquid water may be present on this inconspicuous satellite. As we know, water equals life. Such stories can always be inspiring; let’s recall “Europa Report” for example (even though its subject was the moon of Jupiter). In Enceladus, according to the interpretation of the Germans from Sphäre Sechs, life is rather hard to find, but I can’t deny them the effectiveness in fostering the imagination.
This is cosmic dark ambient of almost essential character. Deprived of violent strains, but dense, trance-like and completely captivating in its black universe, marked only by the faint glow of the stars twinkling in the distance. Containing seven intense compositions, each entitled “Enceladus” (“I” to “VII”), it’s an analog delight tightly filled by low-tuned drones, atmospheric passages and cosmic winds. I’d be lying if I said that each new composition differs in some significant way from the previous one, but that’s not the whole point. It is designed for listening in headphones, preferably in a half-asleep state, so as to allow the mind to break free from the shackles of the body. Therefore, any change which might interfere with this process is not necessarily welcome. In contrast to Phelios, no rhythmic forms are present here – “Enceladus” seems to drift freely in space. “Enceladus” is itself a kind of space.
According to the scientists studying Enceladus, life could exist there, at least in theory. Yet what hits me the hardest in the album of the two Germans is a sense of emptiness and loneliness. And those few more melancholy fragments, which appear here and there, are aimed at the listener to realize that he’s but a microscopic speck in the infinite cosmos. This is not a romantic vision of first contact as in the movie – coincidentally named – “Contact”. This is not a hope coming from the outside such as in “Interstellar”. Personally, I believe in extraterrestrial life, but at the same time I often drift away in the company of cold, cosmic ambient music. And I must admit that at full aural immersion, projects such as Visions or Sphäre Sechs make me think again on this issue, perhaps re-evaluate it. Intense and evocative stuff.
Sphäre Sechs – Enceladus
Malignant Records, TumorCD83