[Reviewed by stark]
I always confuse these two monikers and for a brief moment I thought this is a great come back of Stefano Musso and Raffaele Serra’s sideproject, but of course that one was called Five Thousand Spirits. Damn, my memory doesn’t serve me as well as ten years ago.
They have something in common though, as “Insect Silence” is also a fruitful cooperation of two acclaimed personalities in the postindustrial world. For over two decades Alan Trench is bewitching the underground with his dark folk (Orchis, Howling Larsons) and experimental ambient (Temple Music) tunes. And Martyn Bates’ voice is impossible to confuse with any other band in this scene. Known mainly from Eyeless In Gaza, I think he may be described as one of the founding fathers of the European postindustrial scene, even though my personal approach to his vocals is rather… ambivalent. Yet I can’t deny his unquestionable position and influence on many younger artists.
Their fourth album and first in twelve years provides a swell arranged wyrd/dark folk of purely Britannical bent, which means that the songs go through your ears flawlessly and pulsate with a new wave ambience. Bates’ affective vocal manner not always fits me well yet it is something that adds character to the whole thing. And what’s most important they know how to compose a good songs – it is always such a pleasant feeling on neofolk albums when you’re able to distinguish the pieces, one from (the other) another…
And there’s this amazing 16 minutes long intermezzo, “Pathless” starting like another enchanted acoustic tune, but after a while it takes an unexpected turn into a more experimental/acid/psychedelic direction accompanied by female whispers, Berlin school synths and this exciting “you don’t know what to expect in the next corner” feeling.
What is great about “Insect Silence” is that it’s built in form of a journey, it’s like an epic novel with its moments of glory and of darkness. Of sadness and of peaceful silence. Even though the compositions are varied and each has its own character, I think it’s pointless to describe the album song after song. Just like you don’t review the book chapter after chapter. The sheer beauty of “Insect Silence” should be tasted as a whole. Stunning work.