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well written/beautiful/enya-ish/embarrasing - 70%

caspian, July 28th, 2008

Probably the stuff that our friend Protector has been wanting to do for some time- one would imagine that releases of this ilk would be enough of an outlet for this sort of mellow, neoclassical stuff; strange that Summoning is sounding increasingly chilled and mellow these days, too. Anyway, Die Verblah blaady blah blah is probably the most cringe inducing album, the most "turn it way down when anyone else walks in the room" album I have that I actually listen too on anything resembling a regular basis and enjoy.

Yeah, this is actually pretty cool but I'd certainly never put this on around anyone else. I imagine there's some various sort of influences from the early romantic era and a lot of old Austrian folk music; but not really knowing anything about that sort of stuff I'll just say it sounds like Summoning with the metal removed and the drums toned down a fair bit. And possibly one of the first things you'll notice is that like Summoning, Protector is enamoured with unrealistic synth sounds in exchange for more realistic instrumentation. Admittedly, these strings are pretty smooth- the album is almost exclusively based on strings and slow, rattling toms here and there and it's all quite pleasant- but this is also sort of the problem here; I'm pretty sure that this would cause many a more knowledgeable neoclassical fan to spit his coffee out or crap his pants or something but this really does sound a lot like Enya.

Well, it doesn't sound exactly the same, but the comparison isn't terribly inaccurate, I think. Protector whips up some brilliant ethereal soundscapes with a surprising amount of consistency- Cease to Breathe's rather beautiful female and male vocal interplay, the muted, melancholic feel of the title track (and indeed, much of the album), the more epic, shakespearian tragedy vibe of Moon Muse- yeah, pretty much every song is solid. It's just that the whole thing just sounds really, really new agey. It's pretty and well written but also very smooth and non-threatening and, well, Enya like. The tunes here are perhaps depressing- quite so, in fact- but I would never call this "dark". There's no sort of tension on offer and it's certainly something you could play around your grandmother- as well written and immersive as it is (I'm listening to it while it's raining and it sounds great), there's just no sort of challenge here. It's all ridiculously smooth string melodies in a pleasant muddy, reverb heavy haze as vaguely operatic female vocals croon at you.

I guess I'm repeating the same thing over and over again- "well written, good melodies, but way too smooth"- but that's basically all there is about this album. There's no doubt that Protector is a champion songwriter and arranger, but in this album, well, you could cut the lack of tension with a knife. It's an undoubtedly pleasant listen; it'd work really well with drugs (I've long been a fan of putting on some pretty ambient like Eluvium's latest and hitting the weed, sounds great), for falling asleep too, and for gazing out of windows wistfully, but that's about it. There's absolutely nothing here that grabs your attention, as it's painfully undynamic and quite static. No, this isn't bad by any means, just ridiculously nonthreatening and far, far too easy too listen to. I'd recommend it, just heed my warnings on it.