Sapphirine Phlant – Until The Light Takes Us

sapphirine_phlant

[Reviewed by stark]

To some of you this title may seem familiar and it seems it’s not a coincidence. I have to admit that I hardly listen to black metal these days, but I still hold the classic albums of the genre in high esteem, and yes, Burzum’s “Hvis Lyset Tar Oss” is definitely among them. So I was thinking, if this music is “heavily influenced by Norwegian Black Metal, grim moods and wandering in mirk”, what the musician’s approach to the subject would be: an electronic interpretation of lunatic riffs and desperate percussions or maybe keyboard soundscapes in the vein of “Tomhet” for that matter?

As “a journalist”, or “a musician”, or mostly a fan (no quotation marks this time) I’m aware that the label descriptions and press releases are important, especially these days when most people aren’t particularly willing to discover music by themselves and rely on guidelines and references to their favourite genres or artists. And that’s ok, this is a sign of our modern and digital times. Yet there’s also the other side of the coin, which implies a certain attitude towards the music and narrowing the interpretation possibilities while listening to the album. Personally I try to defy this and even when I read the introductory words about this or that album, I try to approach it with a clear mind and an “everything can happen” way of thinking. But on the occasion of “Until The Light Takes Us” I still had this Black Metal on the back on my head, and while listening to the first track for example, “Aerter”, I couldn’t resist adding the imaginary guitars and screaming vocals and wondering how it would sound if these were also a part of the compositional structure. And eventually it’s not that hard, as many fragments indeed have a feeling straight from under a funeral moon. A set of longer black metal intros, one would think. But no, it needs to be underlined, you can’t treat these compositions as such – it was an obvious trap, easy to fall into, but Valentin Chernov managed to avoid it. Sure, sometimes he’s using means of expression similar to those used by some Norwegian bands in the mid-90s (or at least having a similar sound), like those specific, cosmic keys (to my creations and times?), and on this respect the non-metal Burzum tracks may be a good signpost. But the final results can often be quite surprising, like in my favourite part of the disc, which is “Redeath Communication”. Imagine a track that opens with a dirge yet subdued organ part, which reminds me a bit of His Divine Grace, and then a delicate dirt sounding like the murmur of a digital monster. And then, suddenly a rousing melody which makes me think of Berlin School masters playing a tune for Odin. Conducted by Varg Vikernes. Sounds surreal, doesn’t it? Such is this piece and this album. Consciously using retro attributes, but in the end creating something rather unique. Oldschool but modern.

Released by Shimmering Moods Records the album is limited to 50 copies and comes in a nice looking handmade envelope. So if you think that the electronic sounds used by black metal bands twenty years ago are passé, check this album; maybe you’ll change your mind, because it’s a really creative approach. Black metal spirit in a modern electronica fashion.

Sapphirine PhlantUntil The Light Takes Us
Shimmering Moods, SHM CD020
CDr/Digital 2016

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