The Stargazer’s Assistant – Mirrors & Tides, Shivers & Voids

[Reviewed by stark]

This is not brand new music by The Stargazer’s Assistant. Their fresh offerings they bring to the world via the House Of Mythology label from Great Britain. On the beautifully entitled “Mirrors & Tides, Shivers & Voids” we deal with a compilation of two EPs (yes, you’ve guessed it: “Mirrors & Tides” and “Shivers & Voids”) previously released together on vinyl by Utech Records.

We deal with the work of experienced musicians who have been involved in dozens of projects (including Coil, Guapo or UnicaZurn) over the years. The Stargazer’s Assistant seems to be the medium where they cumulate all their ideas, inspirations… things they wanted to try but never had a good opportunity to do so. So in the end we get an interesting and original album, and its eclectism is as impressive as well as a little bit confusing, although we have to keep in mind that they are two EPs put together on one disc and the music has not been composed and recorded during one session, but over the course of a couple of years.

“Coral Butterfly” starts with a slowly evolving drone and a single sounds of piano and guitar. And somewhere in the middle it suddenly changes into an ethereal mantric tune ornamented with lovely vocals by Mika Rättö. The second composition is like an opening for a forgotten kraut-rock epic, but it ends abruptly with a piano impression. This one seems a little unfinished to me. The third piece is once again a completely different story, as the sounds of some sort of air strike make up an intro for a tribal percussion – what I like about this composition is that it is somehow… serene and uplifting. Dreamy synths do the job over here.

The abstract anxiety combined with the calmness of chirping birds may recall Coil’s “Strange Birds” a bit, yet while the suspense of Balance/Christopherson’s composition was kept on the same level from beginning to end, The Assistants surprise the listener with a noisy outburst followed by few minutes of cinematic, atmospheric droning. This piece made me wonder about how much this music is improvised and how much premeditatedly composed. Seriously it is difficult to say, my guess is that it’s 50/50, more or less. The following track is yet another different journey as “Shivers & Voids” is like a DCD-esque mantra on voice and zither. It’s a prelude to a grand, dense finale on string drones and marching rhythms. Once again, this one has a strong soundtrack feeling.

So with quite a lot of elements that may remind of other musicians (Coil, Dead Can Dance, Nurse With Wound, even Alio Die and a dozen of others) they managed to made something of their own, an interesting collage, which sometimes is strikingly beautiful, sometimes rather disturbing. “Mirrors & Tides, Shivers & Voids” requires more than one listen to find all the details and the key to this release (if such a thing exists). One thing for certain, this is Stargazer’s Musick.

The Stargazer’s AssistantMirrors & Tides, Shivers & Voids
Zoharum, ZOHAR 193-2
CD/Digital 2019

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