Cynthia – Between Two Worlds


[Reviewed by stark]

Can’t say much about Cynthia, except for the fact that it’s apparently a female project (how ingenious of me to have figured it out) and ‘Between Two Worlds’ is their debut release. Although the label says that Cynthia is a mysterious nickname for “a couple of well-known and respected artists, who use a pseudonym and prefer to stay anonymous”. Well, whatever, I don’t see the point in that, but maybe they have their reasons. Although the exposure would obviously give them some more attention.

Anyway, “Between Two Worlds” is quite experimental stuff even for Shimmering Moods standards, a label that likes to diversify its releases, from pleasant and approachable ambient to more dark and experimental stuff. And this one is definitely on this darker side of the axis.

Though it isn’t the guidebook dark ambient of old cathedrals, abandoned steelmills, black holes and so on. The first and the longest title composition gave me a strong feeling of uncertainty, and they achieve this through decaying hums, distant voices and field recordings as well as cracks and glitches from old and broken sound equipment. It’s like the obscure side of my city observed in a conclave mirror. This is the longest and most important composition. It adjusts your reception of the album and places you between two worlds. Both are ours, but one is filtered through the twisted vision of your subtle nightmares. You can safely open your eyes around the 27th minute, at the point when some humming and crackling beauty emerges; this fragment is stunningly beautiful.

The remaining six tracks last approximately the same time in total as the epic opener alone. “Between Wind And Water” is exactly what you would expect after that title, as it contains field recordings of people playing at the beach, I guess. But its lo-fi spirit gives it a new dimension. You feel like a spectre watching the living through a hazy veil. Same thing with “Scratching The Surface” and its subtle but dark drone drilling into your consciousness. “Between You And Me” sounds like a swarm of strange insects flying over a dying factory, giving it its last breath. Another rather disturbing piece that is intriguing and at the same time adds a bit of uneasiness to your cosy life.

The second longest offering by Cynthia is “Reassurance” which maintains the feeling of the previous tracks, but is served in an even more minimal and severe manner. I have the impression that there are some atmospheric drones pressed in the background, but even so, they’re so deeply hidden that I begin to wonder if I’m not just imagining them. A rhythmic part appears later for a moment, taking the music a little bit closer to ambient dub aesthetics.

“Selling My Wares” is short and strongly reminiscent of Coil’s “Strange Birds”. I feel like I’m listening to the sequel of that song. And when I think about the last one, “Mellan Tva Världar”, I have another unusual connotation, that is Trepaneringsritualen. There is something similar between this track and the offerings of the aforementioned project from Sweden. And I have to admit that it’s pretty much as intensive as Thomas Ekelund’s works. Though the last few minutes are like the rising sun over Damascus. A charming finale for a bizarre, unsettling yet totally intriguing release.

Cynthia – Between Two Worlds
Shimmering Moods Records, SHM CD023
CDr/Digital 2016

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