[Reviewed by stark]
It’s not the first time that ambient musicians pay tribute to Stanislaw Lem’s works. I remember there was a compilation dedicated to Solaris; the same novel has been an inspiration for Ben Frost, Nikita Golyshev or Docetism. His Master’s Voice, which has been chosen by Contemplatron and Shentz, has also already been the theme of a dark ambient album – perhaps you remember the Phaenon CD released by Malignant Records a couple of years ago. Can’t say that it surprises me. After all, science fiction of a humanistic approach and the dark ambient world are not that far from one another.
I don’t know anything about Shentz, although I have a vague feeling that it could be a different incarnation of the same musician, the one behind the other project involved in this work, that is Contemplatron. This name should ring a bell – on previous albums the project presented dark ambient strongly connected with Buddhism, deep mantric meditations and religious rapture. Even though the foundation and atmosphere is different this time, one can recognize that it’s this project and not some other. It’s fascinating in dark ambient that by simply moving the center of gravity a few degrees towards one direction or the other, you can achieve such different moods and visions, without losing your own identity and nature. It’s Contemplatron, but not the one sitting on a Himalayan peak awaiting enlightenment, but the one drifting through space, hoping for a first contact and confronting our humanity with another form of life, something beyond our comprehension.
Still, it’s not dark ambient that dominates this “apocryphical soundtrack for the book of St. Lem” (I don’t understand why the writer’s name is written like that on the cover – what, is it “Saint Lem” or something? As far as I know he hasn’t been canonized yet. Full name or initials only, any other option is incorrect). The mysterious enterprise called Shentz is responsible for the layer that may be described as “noise”. It can barely be considered as harsh, which is good, because it doesn’t fully cover the deep-drone aspect. These louder outbursts are more like distorted radio transmissions, which can be imagined as being of alien origin. Swirling, buzzing, mechanically breathing music of the unknown. You can’t say anything about the intentions of the source of these sounds, it’s that cold and unfamiliar. While Contemplatron’s solo albums were cold on the outside, you could feel the inner warmth of the spirit. This time there isn’t any safe point that you could hold on to. It’s like the human factor is being sucked into the infinite; something that can’t be described with the words known to man. We have to learn a whole new language and semantics to at least try to portray this new discovery.
The music has a power that works on totally different levels than speech or the visual arts. I think that with a certain dose of sensibility it can be the most demanding but also the most rewarding. It gives the widest amount of space for you, your imagination and your cosmos within. Listen to these sounds, deep as night and sharp as a razor, raise your head, look on the night sky and start to wonder if they’re out there or inside you, in the undiscovered realms of your “I”.
Contemplatron & Shentz – Apocryphical Soundtrack for the Book of St. Lem His Master’s Voice
Wrotycz Records, WRT 025