The word ‘holotrop’ is Greek and means something like exerting yourself towards fullness. The project which this review deals with, took this name from the main member’s inspiration by a psychologist from Czechia, who developed the ‘holotropic breathing method’, which might guide you to reach a stronger, more focused level of the conscious state of mind.
Holotrop is an underestimated project by M.F. (Tino Sebit), which started during the first half of last decade (and a sister-project of the young Dungeon Synth act Bladcvlt, by the way). This German act did record and release some impressive things throughout the past eight years, released under their Qualia home-banner especially. Check out their Bandcamp page to find out more on the short yet impressive list of releases.
But anyway, this review deals with a second official release via Raubbau, known from many excellent underground releases, as well as the huge Maschinenfest community. Within that list of fine releases, this newest Holotrop album, called Manifestation De L’Antinatalisme, might aim for a podium place. I’ll come back to the aural content soon. Besides a digital release, there’s a physical edition too, being a vinyl one. This one is strictly limited, coming in matte cardboard sleeve, with a sober yet intriguing cover layout done by label-mates Salt.
Better to never have been born… Anti-natalism is a philosophical concept that sort of compares birth with suffering, and therefor in some way (yet not necessarily; it depends on the current) focusing on a concept of human extinction. This trend smoothly follows the core of Holotrop’s former Raubbau release, Dead Bird Calling, fathoming (and this is a small phrase from the bio) ‘the darkest and doomiest realms of his [i.e. Holotrop] art’. The main theme is based around a negative vision of our dystopian and brainless existence, the superficial consumerism, and the apathy that characterises humanity in its current form. Personal note of ironic pleasure: extinction might be salvation, haha…
Manifestation De L’Antinatalisme consists of seven titles which have a total running time of forty-two + minutes. It brings an ultimately heavy-weighted, down-earthed, even claustrophobic form of Dark Ambient, constructed around eerie and ominous synth lines. Long-stretched soundwaves float through obscure, nihilistic, isolationist and sepulchral dimensions of despair and negativity, calm and integer in some way, as if resignation takes over the conscious state of mind. This gets ‘joined’ by darkened beats, white noise, semi-meditative and hypnotic synth lines and different additional sound sources (like wind bells and other percussion, a crying baby (in the title track) and several spoken words samples [it’s evident that those spoken parts do not deal with hope and joy, yet rather with apocalyptic visions, dystopian societies and barren landscapes; the ones on opener Born Out Of This are taken from the poem Dinosauria, We by American (yet Germany-born) author Charles Bukowski, by the way], alarm signals or the (imaginative?) sound of sea waves or water drops). Despite the relative tranquillity, I do feel the urge to escape, to hide, to prepare for thinks lurking in the abyss, ready to crawl out of the deepest pits, ready to spread its suffocating fog of toxic and asphyxiating devastation.
Things grow and, then again, fade away, over and over again, twisted and somehow cynical, atonal and, at the same time, well-structured too. There are moments of reverb-injected melodicism, of cinematic grandeur versus lightless minimalism, of post-industrialised electronica (cf. Swallowed By Extinction), and of awareness, warning, wake-up-call, presentiment for what is about to happen. The whole of the time, Holotrop confronts us with a very negative yet somehow realistic view on contemporary society, and it isn’t a pretty vision. Holotrop’s aural expression of this sombre picture, then again, is nothing but a sonic expression of beauty, elegance, even genius and astonishment. Manifestation De L’Antinatalisme (cool idea, by the way, to use a title in French, for it distracts, and therefore the message gets strengthened!) stands for truly excellent Drone / Dark Ambient from the bleakest, most oppressive angle of the genre.