Very recently I got in touch with a young Poland based label, Depressive Black Ambient Records, run by a fine guy, Chris. The label focuses on Black Metal, Ambient and Drone material especially, and they are – and the next phrase I did steal from them, haha – not looking for anything. Anesthesiologically severe. Immersed in deep hypothermia. Where the breath is already imperceptible.
At this very moment, there is just a handful of releases, and this review deals with the first recording on that label: I W Godzinę Śmierci Naszej, Amen by Removed From This Life. I have no information about this project, but in the vein of all material on this label, I beg you not to expect any joy or happiness. …at all…
The mysterious Polish project Removed From This Life didn’t release anything before this album, if I am not mistaken. This recording, called I W Godzinę Śmierci Naszej, Amen (which means something like ‘and at the hour of our death, amen’), is a lengthy one (almost one hour of duration), divided into six parts, and available via digital download and pro-CD-r (with jewel case cover). Both the (extremely fine and intriguing) cover artwork and the song titles refer to some sacral or divine approach. It lifts up the veil, it means that there must be a hidden message behind the story. And that is a fact that must draw attention, mustn’t it.
So, that first arousal (visuals and lyrical-conceptual sides) has been strengthened / caressed / confirmed after a couple of listens. I W Godzinę Śmierci Naszej, Amen surely is an album that consists of many secret, subtly hidden levels too when talking about the audible side of the story. Anyway, I have no idea about a studio involved, members, whatsoever, so let’s ignore those details…
The album starts with Ave Maria, which opens with some eerie string drones, vocal sample, and field recorded noises. Step by step, other elements join: percussion sounds, Gregorian alike melodies, yet still with these weird vocal sampling as ear catcher. It has something extremely mysterious, at the same time being sacred and ominous. After about three minutes, things turn towards oppressing obscurity. Haunting droning and mesmerizing ambience take over the game by means of heavy, mechanical synth manipulation and droning soundwaves. The addition of organ alike and floating keyboards on top of the eldritch noises make the whole like an omen for something overwhelming yet to come. And indeed, at about five minutes and something, Ave Maria overwhelms with distorted guitars, joined by hypnotic and / or bewitching synth lines. It is not exactly ‘melodious’ in essence, yet rather the sonic representation of an arduous quest through entangled mental spheres. End Of The Universal Life, the following composition, follows that path, delving deeper into the distracted psyche. Still supported by these low-tuned guitar drones, sacral choirs and organ, along with industrialised keyboard improvisation, are canalised into a weird, discordant, yet also introspective aural journey. Being slow-paced and ponderous, this piece combines severe and grievous atmospheres with meditative elegance. Actually, it has a huge funereal and doomed attitude.
This is somehow the core of this album, and how the whole experiment continues. Samples remain an important value (as said, especially vocally: spoken words, choirs and chants, field recordings of playing kids or talking people – yet also, for example, church bells, found sources and the likes), besides the foundations built on those dissonant guitar lines and gloomy synths. It results in a disturbing experience, an intriguing one too, filled with contrast, confusion and discomfort. The whole has quite a chaotic nature, based on deconstructive and somewhat morbid principles, twisted, burdensome, yet ingeniously addictive too. Fine too is the contrast in between threatening disturbance and enlightening elegance, or the sacral intimacy versus ill-omened doom – a contrast that dominates I W Godzinę Śmierci Naszej, Amen the whole of the time.
The production is raw and slightly chaotic as well, but that must be seen as a surplus. With a well-thought delicacy, the mixture of rough-edged and noisy elements at the one hand, and subtle, esoteric and ethereal sounds at the other, strengthens the confounding and conflicting concept in a glorious manner. The duality that this album tries to express gets intensified by the contrast in sound, as well as concept.