[Reviewed by stark]
It’s good to fnally see an official release from this one-man project from Belgium. The name surely sounds familiar to some of you, as Xavier has been posting single tracks here and there, always having a strong support from Nicolas from Asmorod; so if you follow Asmorod in social media, there’s no way you haven’t heard about Hoshin one way or another.
The second positive thing is that it is released on Cryo Chamber – I’d dare to say that it is a new turn for this label, as I’ve felt lately that a lot of their artists, apart from their obvious high quality, sound a little bit too much alike. Perfectly produced, well composed, but lacking their own, unique character. You know, like when you listen to a mixtape compiled by a friend, enjoy it, but after a while can’t really say which track was the best and if it’s worth checking out who’s responsible for it, in order to hear the whole album. Some of them may have a distinctive feature, some specific instrument used, but in final conclusion you realize that it’s more of the same, only spiced differently. It tastes well, like when you order red curry or green curry with different types of meat – it’s always very good, but after a while you feel like you want to try something else. Of course, I’m not talking about all the Cryo Chamber bunch. Cities Last Broadcast was quaint, Phonothek, peculiar as well, a few others too… But Hoshin stands out in the most impressive way. It’s not ahead, nor behind the rest of the Cryo Chamber wild bunch, it stands by their side but with a distinctive gap betwen them.
And what’s possibly most important, it’s the one closest to the core of my personal taste, so forgive me if my judgement is not very objective. It never is, I don’t believe that’s possible when it comes to musical journalism. It is described as dark ambient, but don’t be fooled by that, and don’t expect a conescutive exploration of black corners of the mind, nor postapocalyptic wastelands where all that is left is fighting with stones and sticks. No sir, Hoshin places an emphasis on truly touching melodies. Just listen to the phenomenal “The All Is Aflame”, and if it doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, you’re an insensitive bastard. The features typical for a dark ambient aura are present, like the dense bass drones and metallic rumblings, but – maintaining the culinary terminology – these are all seasonings that enrich the flavour. It’s never dominant, even the deep bass drone of “Dissolving Steps” is counterpointed by the texture which is like taken straight from Sola Translatio’s “Mother Sunrise”. In the other pieces I feel a strong connection with Robert Rich and Steve Roach’s drone works, as well as the melodic CMI classics, like Raison d’être or Desiderii Marginis from the times before they started to implement industrial features into their music. Everything covered in a large dose of field recordings – frankly speaking, I expected more of a Far Eastern feeling in the music, bearing in mind the name of the project, some of its previous compositions and well… Asmorod’s “Hysope” as well, since I feel that album has had a strong impact on Xavier. But none of these things; there’s a universal spirituality covering the whole album. In its spirit as well as in its purely technical aspects. Made using modern techniques, it shows great respect towards the old analogue synth masters. And it goes beyond sheer entertainment, because let’s be honest, even a specific niche such as ambient or dark ambient is part of popular music and can be called more or less entertainment, just like postapocalyptic horror/sci-fi flicks. “Path Of Dissolutions” touches my spirit deeply, just like the best works of Alio Die, Mathias Grassow, Klaus Wiese or Oöphoi, not to mention the American classics mentioned above. Like a warm cataplasm to my soul. Often within one track sacral solemnity merges with organic excursions to places where no human presence whatsoever can be found. While in the first two compositions the field recordings suggest that we’re not in an empty place – a Buddhist temple visited by tourists perhaps? Or an Oriental market? I love how the voices blend with the drones, in a way that reminds me a little bit of “Before The Light” by Nimh & Maurizio Bianchi. Anyway, after those two tracks, the human factor vanishes and the journey to the unknown begins. A very effective album – the emotions are subtle and straightforward at the same time, you feel them, but you’re not overwhelmed by them in a bombastic, gothic way. The balance of this aspect of the album is perfect.
Definitely one of the best Cryo Chamber albums. I know that a lot of the label’s fans expect darker, more industrial/sci-fi stuff, or the Lovecraftian fantasy shade of the genre, but it’s good that Simon Heath decided to release this one for a change. I’m addicted to it.