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Senmuth - Deathknowledge & Lifeperception - 60%

ConorFynes, December 21st, 2010

On top of his metal-leaning madness, Senmuth mastermind Valery Av has lately gone in a direction that favours his lighter side over the heaviness. Be it soothing ambient music, or daunting explorations into ancient culture, Senmuth always seems to be reinventing himself. 'Deathknowledge & Lifeperception' shows Senmuth picking up the reins of orchestral composition once again. While the quality starts to lag and decay towards the latter half of the album and the execution still suffers from the lack of any actual orchestra involved, this is a well-produced piece of work for Senmuth, and generally quite a step up in terms of composition.

First experimenting with symphonic/orchestral music a few years before with 'Summarium Symphony,' Senmuth shows a real step up from that album here. Although the majority of the sound here is created and arranged through the use of a computer and no orchestra was actually used here, things sound surprisingly authentic, although it's still clear that what the listener is hearing isn't real musicianship. For the sake of composition however, the majority of the music here seems to be thoughtfully composed, with enough complexity, depth of sound and subtlety to be worth quite a few listens.

Unlike 'Summarium Symphony' which suffered from a lack of variety in the tone, Senmuth has quite a wide range of both sound and mood here. 'Revival Of The Reason' opens the album with a melancholic sound, with bursts of optimism emerging sparsely throughout the strings-driven track. The other highlight 'Inaccessible Motive' is quite a bit darker in nature. Driven by a melody on the sitar, the song underlines the variety heard here, over orchestral works done in the past.

The only thing keeping me from calling this a 'great' album is the fact that the music begins to take a dive towards the latter half of the album. Things are still kept pleasant and functional in natrue, but the inspiration and grasp of melody seems to escape after the first few tracks, robbing 'Deathknowledge & LIfeperception' of being called a consistent and excellent piece of work. For what it's worth though, the album is quite a good listen, and this is an above-average work for the Russian one man act.

Orchestral Ambient Bliss - 91%

MaDTransilvanian, June 7th, 2010

Released only a couple of months after the excellent Chambers, Senmuth’s third 2010 album is the remarkable Deathknowledge & Lifeperception, a relatively similar album both in terms of musical nature and in overall quality.

Deathknowledge & Lifeperception is another one of Senmuth’s many, many neoclassical/ambient albums, this one being described as Ethno Orchestral Experimental Music by its prolific creator. That tag is especially valid because of the presence of the word orchestral: this album is much more oriented towards classical music than its ambient predecessor (Chambers). The keyboards and programming are used to create a more grandiose atmosphere, evocative of an actual orchestra playing but much more subtle than what an actual sound-by-sound imitation would result in (there’s no ultra-grandiose keyboard sounds as in modern Dimmu Borgir here, everything is kept moderate in that department).

In terms of the nature of their sound, Senmuth’s ambient instrumental albums tend to have a rather similar sound between them even when the overall effect (for example, orchestral or not) is taken into consideration. One can, however, arguably claim that Deathknowledge & Lifeperception is one the more complex side of the Senmuth discography, at least on the more complex side of the sample of that discography which I’ve heard as of today. The intricacy of the arrangements is impressive, mixing Senmuth’s usual subtle folk sounds with the keyboard melodies which make a standard ambient album, discreet and distant percussion sounds and a final, hovering orchestral sound that is woven into the music in a way which makes it hard to analyze on its own.

One very likeable aspect of Deathknowledge & Lifeperception, and in this regard it resembles albums such as the great Exouniverse and perhaps the older Planetary Dust, is the recurrence of the cosmic themes within the music and the artwork. The album, in keeping with Senmuth’s interest for industrial music, has that powerful spacey feeling which is also detectable in Samael’s mid-era material. This theme is mixed with a relatively melancholic mood prevailing all through the album, despite a few scattered moments of positive hope.

Once again, Senmuth has succeeded in creating another masterful instrumental ambient album in the form of Deathknowledge & Lifeperception. It’s another worthy addition to an already huge Senmuth catalogue full of great music which takes considerable efforts to explore. But those efforts are almost always well rewarded.