Celestial Dirge

Album Title: 
Æon Æther
Release Date: 
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Review Type: 

It has been quite a while since I got in touch with a new Distant Voices-release, with exception of the split with Brouillard and Arbre (you can read the review on Brouillarbre on the update of December 23rd 2015). Apparently there was a new album by Misery but unfortunately it didn’t come out my way (and oops, but I was about to add a weeping smiley…). Anyway, this French label did never disappoint me. First of all the projects signed to their roster are of a qualitative high standard. Okay, the sound quality sometimes sucks, but the creativity and persuasion, the emotional aspects and the execution are, in each single case, above and beyond the average. But there’s another aspect that characterises this label, which makes Distant Voices unique. They were founded just over three years ago (by Thomas Bel, shortly after joined, and still assisted, by Marie and Anna M.) in order to release dark-minded Music in limited and handmade editions. The independent and ‘artisanal’ label works with special types of paper and often with handwritten texts (going from the title alone, for example, up to all information included), and that’s quite unique. It shows a certain devotion for ‘our’ Music, something people like undersigned cannot but appreciate a lot!

Very much the same - and then I am referring to both the aural high-standard qualities, as well as the specific artwork - goes for the new effort by American duo Celestial Dirge (B. – keyboards, synths, programming, and S. – all strings). The full album Æon Æther comes in an edition of 68 hand-numbered copies on CD, and on cassette limited to 18 copies only. The visual details (photography, artwork and layout) are done by Distant Voices’ Anna M., and the ‘regular’ CD-edition comes with two carton cards, evidently with pictures that define desolation, loneliness, tranquillity, endlessness, infinity…

Earlier this year, both Distant Voices and Celestial Dirge did release the MCD Cerulean Arcanes, which undersigned did, evidently, appreciate a lot. You can check out the review posted on the February 7th 2015’s upload (for example, just enter the band’s name in the ‘search’-tab at the right). Now B. and S. return with a new four-tracker, which was recorded during last Winter (December 2014 – March 2015). However, it took quite some time to finish it, yet B. finally took care of both mix and mastering in September 2015. Æon Æther now is a fact!

Æon Æther consists of four lengthy (once again totally instrumental) pieces; three of them clock over thirteen minutes, one lasts for ‘only’ six minutes. ‘the duo manages to create a unique atmosphere leading to a dark transcendence: evocations of spectral movements, distant echoes of a non-human infinity, eerie sounds from an astral cave’… Isn’t that an appropriate starter (I stole it from the label’s site, I have to admit)?

The album opens with CRFT 2 NR (13:03), which starts with a tranquil, somewhat distant droning piece of Minimal Ambient, like an introduction defining nothingness. After two and a half minutes, however, things turn towards that strange mixture of Funeral Doom, Atmospheric Black Metal, Ambient Drone and Astral Cold Wave, i.e. a repetitive and hypnotic form of transcendental melodies with minimal drum programming and a mysterious / mystic atmosphere. …before changing, once again and only shortly, after almost six minutes, into some dreamy, far-away floating soundscape of endless silence. But then again, at seven minutes, a fast, energetic, violent eruption of blackened anger empowers the aural evolution. Drum computer, whether you like it or not; in this band’s case it does truly fit! And do not ignore the marvellous synth melodies at the background…

I think it’s rather evident to recognize that the other compositions dwell within comparable spheres, interacting in between somewhat mechanical blackened eruptions and droning spheres of Ambient. Indeed they are. EXT.17, for example (16:50), opens with an electronic beat, reminding me to Electro-Pop, Intelligent Dance Music and related genres (without remorse I am adding the name of Metraton - check it out, find it out yourself…), before mutating into the duo’s well-known form of mechanical Black Ambient Metal. Further on there are some eerie and ominous soundscapes, still interrupted / interrupting with nihilistic yet freezing and droning blackened waves of obscurity, introspection and transcendence. CLSTL TXTRS (13:52) starts within a mostly obscured, suffocative droning session, and it includes even more Shoegaze-alike sections than the other songs, yet also more of the blackened extremities that characterise the harsher side of this duo. It’s quite intense, the atmosphere that veils this track, but maybe that’s the reason why undersigned does adore it? STRL FNRL N B MNR is the shortest composition with its six minutes of length. This piece brings a highly astral, transcendental and mesmerizing form of Dark Ambient atmospheres, and the inclusion of the programmed percussions is truly a surplus, I think. This outro proudly encloses a new chapter within Celestial Dirge’s existence, and it makes me longing for more, much more. As said, I did appreciate the EP this band and the label did release earlier this year, but this album is much stronger, and so much more convincing…