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I was looking forward to finally check out a couple of albums from this intriguing Russian one-man project that is known for the high amount of releases, the original ambient music, the diversified culture and science topics, the great cover artworks and the elevated degree of creativity. I didn't know where to begin and "Planetary Dust" was somehow the first album that I found on the internet as I was looking for an entire "Senmuth" release.
Even though the average rating of this particular disc is surprisingly low, I must admit that I like the sound, atmosphere and cosmic topic of the album. The record works much more on a mysterious atmosphere rather than trying out weird and progressive sound collages. From time to time, the keyboards add some little and well used space sounds that remind me of "Voivod's" dystopian masterpiece "Phobos" but there also some folk samples in a couple of tracks that could have been inspired by the latest works of "Ayreon" such as "01011001". We hear many different samples on this record from tribal folk drums in "Cordelia" to pipers in "Sycorax". From weird and mysterious calm tracks like the eerie "Jupiter" to heavier and more rhythm orientated stuff like the majestic "Neptune", the album varies quite a lot but always respects the main topic and atmosphere. This may be one of the most complete and consistent space concept albums I have ever heard and the tension is kept high on an almost constant level for far over one hour of running time. Add to this that the sound samples never sound too artificial and that the production quality is surprisingly elevated for a low budget Russian one man project like this.
I may not always be in the mood to listen to this record on a regular basis, but when I feel the need to listen to some experimental, innovating and progressive space ambient music, "Senmuth" will from now on always be my first choice and is a great modern alternative to the legendary albums of the progressive rock scene. I can just warmly recommend this record to any fan of the space or science-fiction topic. This rather original record could easily be a truly great soundtrack for a weird experimental science-fiction movie. I feel that "Planetary Dust" is quite underrated for no apparent reason. If you have the chance to listen to this album or purchase it, don't hesitate if my review intrigued you just a little bit.
Our topics for today are mass production and astronomy. While any average educated person can imagine what both topics are about, let's give a little definition of what we are handling here. Mass production is the doctrine of early industrialization in which the goal of an institution represents creating or manufacturing as many products as possible, with the least effort and expenses involved, to produce the most profit. While profit may not be the case or goal for our friend Senmuth, quality of music deteriorates with quantity and even when you're a mastermind, you're still alone and you have to face the fact that great quantities also bring along great risks of many of them sounding horribly bland and dull. Astronomy, the other topic that is relevant to this release, is the study of celestial objects, of occurrences out there in the vastness of space, on a macro level.
One of Senmuth's many subjects and interests is astronomy and of course, like all honest musicians out there, we try to authentically infuse our music with our interests to create concepts or simply to capture a certain moment that was inspiring to us. After the double-CD "Oracle Octave Part I: Orion Mystery" and "Oracle Octave Part II: Sirius Mystery", which were also space-based and quite well-executed comes yet another space-themed disc from our old friend Senmuth, namely "Planetary Dust", which focuses more on planes than on start, but in terms of music and their depiction in the abstract world we plunge into, the difference between space-travel, stars and planets is very small, since the themes are more or less intermingled. So the main goal or purpose of this album was, to capture the beauty and mysteries or fascination of different celestial objects, more specifically planets of our solar system and some of their moons. What happens when a crazy musicoholic such as Senmuth gets a grasp on such a vast and epic subject? Planetary Dust is the answer.
This needle in the haystack discography of Senmuth is one of the less successful albums to capture a certain concept in detail and express the matter adequately. The space theme renders itself almost completely useless due to the fact that the songs themselves are too inert. They mush themselves into infinite repetition and bland presentation, trying to sound dramatic and heavy, yet failing to do so. The whole album sounds more like a soundtrack to some kind of sci-fi adventure, yet does not appeal in any way. Even the guitar tone, which Senmuth mostly uses as a back-up to the rhythm or to jingle out some melodies, is merely present, which removes the overall weight of the songs. Inside a cheesy uber-dramatic interpretation or representation of planets and moons, lies basic electronic drumming with dragging random synth melody that repeats itself into endlessness. All songs follow the same fashion, sounding incredibly boring and again, generic. The whole album tumbles and rolls on with overdistorted drums and nerve-shattering keyboard tunes, which take various shapes (better: sounds) such as screeching brass-like sounds or animal like toots. By the way, was that a Mercyful Fate ripoff in "Cordelia" at about 4:40? Sure sounded like one, and we all know Senmuth likes Mercyful Fate, since he covered "Come to the Sabbath" sometime.
The problem with this album is again, the too generic and endless repetition and uninspired "atmospheric" music. Where "Oracle Octave" captured space as a theme in an experimental, avant-garde project, "Planetary Dust" fails to cope with the real weight, dark and cold atmosphere, which the universe represents. I also can't make out any highlights here, since there is nothing but a mushy mass of sonic disappointment to be found here. Better luck next time.
(metal-archives.com and TMO on 3.02.2010)