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I didn’t really know what to expect when my friend picked this up at the local CD store. I had heard of Vinterriket before, but knew nothing of their music. But after hearing this, I can say that I won’t be buying any Vinterriket albums in the future.
Let me state for the record that there is nothing wrong with dark/ambient music as a whole. Honestly, there is nothing WRONG with any one song on the album. My problem lies with the fact that every single song sounds EXACTLY THE SAME.
Im Augenblick der Nacht - A cold sounding, wandering piece. You can hear the sound of a snowstorm in the background. Goes on for about eight-and-a-half minutes.
Nebelwand – A cold sounding, wandering piece. You can hear the sound of a snowstorm in the background. Goes on for about eight minutes.
Momente schierer Dunkelheit – A cold sounding, wandering piece. You can hear the sound of a snowstorm in the background. Goes on for about eight minutes
Lichtschleier – A cold sounding, wandering piece. You can hear the sound of a snowstorm in the background. Goes on for about nine minutes
Horizonte der Sterblichkeit – A cold sounding, wandering piece. You can hear the sound of a snowstorm in the background. Goes on for about eight-and-a-half minutes
Illusion des Eises – A cold sounding, wandering piece. You can hear the sound of a snowstorm in the background. Goes on for about eight-and-a-half minutes
Every track on this album sounds beautiful and cold, to such a point that it causes intense visions of glaciers and mountains and frozen forests and snowdrifts. Lichtschleier effortlessly achieves what it set out to do; create a dark, cold, ambient atmosphere. It’s such a shame that the atmosphere doesn’t vary at all between tracks. However, if you need something good to relax to before you go to sleep, this may be the album for you. Otherwise it is to be avoided.
Fans of the ingenious Vinterriket may be surprised by this album...
Indeed, "Winter realm" as his name suggests is a perfect description for these soundscapes.
Unlike his last album, "Der Letze..." there are no vocals present, harsh or otherwise. Rather, this is a tranquil journey into ambient soundscapes; lunar, soothing, a kind of blessing of Nature. Anyone who has a profound connection with Nature will immediately feel an intuitive pull to this album. It's fascinating that Vinterriket, while using strictly digital instruments--computers/synthesizers etc.--is able to capture a truly 'organic' sound. The undulations of this music are as subtle as the songs of winds themselves, or the crashing of waves against banks and cliffs.
It needn't be listened to in any linear sense. Tracks "1," "2," or "3" have no bearing on this album; rather than flowing sequentually, it simply drifts where it will. For instance, you could listen to track one, then five, then three, and it would blend together as perfectly as listening to 1-2-3-4 linearly. Like untouched Nature, there is no need for boundary or static categories.... it is simply the shifting soundscape of existence.
I think this is Vinterriket's most tranquil, heartfelt, and emotive album. It appeals to much more subtle aspects of the psyche than his earlier work. Like all genius, the layers within layers of this work could take decades to unravel.
I had my browser set to Flood the Earth (the US label for Vinterriket's releases) as the homepage for weeks. After hearing such beautiful works of art such as Der Letzte Winter - Der Ewigkeit Entgegen, Landschafter Ewiger Einsamkeit, and ...Und Die Nacht Kam Schweren Schrittes, I could not help myself but to glue my eyes to my screen until this released. The second the update for this album launched, I pushed my 15 USD forward and waited; like a giddy school kid with his new pair of Jordans. Put simply, I couldn't wait for this release.
For any of those who may not know, Vinterriket is a one-man ambient black metal project formed by Christoph Ziegler. To put things shortly about the man, his work throughout the decade has proven itself to be worthy of mention to projects such as Burzum and earlier day Ulver.
Lichtschleier is no exception to the rule. With the droning structure of the keyboard pads and presses that happen to come forth and are prevlane throughout the album, you're greeted with a confused emotion. Vinterriket happens to invoke such things -- in between the threshold of beauty and monotony, there's the ever-changing rhythm of the keys that happen to dominate the six track album. In all albums, the keyboard has been the dominant instrument of tranquility, or chaos; what have you of the projects from which are inferred.
The album starts with Im Augenblick Der Nacht. Gently fading in are the windy synth-string effects which whirl from one note to the next, never leaving one in a state of boredom but struck with such intensifying wonder. Next is Nebelwand. Not long into the song the synthetic string effects fade into a more watery change of notes and structure. Some single string proportions are noted throughout the song near the end, magnifying the greatness of the song and the world it beckons to describle -- no matter how big or small.
Momente Schierer Dunkelheit is a very dramatic song, clinging onto almost choir-like sound structures as keys melt away into the backdrop of the song. The beauty of such things is unable to be properly documented and thus must be heard for one's own self, and then comes the title track. Lichtschleier has a glassy array of effects here -- from strings to synth-pads to halo keys -- hitting both low and high notes at times, and at other times, doing one or the other. This song is a sheer masterpiece. Horizonte Der Sterblichkeit follows this, close to identical pattern, which is the only reason I'm giving it a 98 percent. Lichtschleier and Horizonte Der Sterblichkeit are far too similar, however I don't knock the fact that they are. It's only a miniscule lack of proportion, especially when both songs are placed end to end. My only complain is with the beginnings of both songs sounding similar with different effects.
Illusion Des Eises has to be my most favorite track next to Lichtschleier itself. Rainy, slowed organ effects and melancholic strings drape the wintry wind and falling rain in the background. A fitting end to a very anticipated album.
For those who choose to rather summarize everything, Lichtschleier is beautifully crafted ambient work from someone who isn't just bashing their head on any old Yamaha throwaway. If there's anyone who enjoys the metal parts of their music being absent, if for only but a few albums in between, then please, do yourself a favor and pick up this magnificent album. You'll thank yourself for it in the long run.