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You just don't get it. - 59%

caspian, April 24th, 2009

Perhaps it's because I've heard basically no neoclassical dark ambient or whatever you call it. Maybe I'm just someone with the intellectual capacity of a flea. Either way though this a rather strange collection of ‘songs', with the overall impression being that it's a soundtrack to a movie with a lot of arty fight scenes in it, and it's not all that interesting.

Indeed, everything about this album suggests that it's actually a movie soundtrack; because while it's very well arranged and recorded it's just not really evocative or interesting enough on it's own. There's plenty of big dramatic horn sections, plenty of that huge Wagnerian string sound that's been done to death ever since the "Imperial March" first came along, and some subtle layering of voices, both spoken word and choral echoing throughout the mixes.

I dunno, you really do get the feeling that Elend know exactly what they're doing; unfortunately what they're doing and what I want to be hearing are two different things. Certainly there's been a lot of effort put into the composition of these tracks, "Stasis" is all big, bombastic horns and strings, "La Carriere D'Ombre" ticking along on a much lower key note before exploding with squealing violins and massive bee-swarm type strings. It's probably one of the better tracks here, and a lesson here for all those neoclassical dudes out there; you're not going to be louder or more impressive then the old masters, so you might as well try a different angle. Elend's mix of spoken French vocals with the music is a fairly good idea, but seeing as I have no idea what he's saying, the French language is gay and it's rarely integrated well it basically lets the songs down, as otherwise spooky, effective dark ambient pieces turn into narrations for arthouse movie previews.

"Urserpens" is a good enough example of why this album struggles to keep you interested. Things open with a minimalist spoken word section, with some sparse and eerie dark ambient backing. After a minute and a half or so strings kick in, strange synths echo throughout, ghostly vocals hover around. It's pretty cool at this point, until things fade out to some strange, subtle and unnerving dark ambient; a field recording from the screams of hell, perhaps. After that I assume something happens but I got bored and put Ride the Lightning on instead. I imagine most people will be sorely tested to listen to even more then half of this album interrupted.

Those looking for some challenging dark ambient or neoclassical could do worse then look here, yes. It's well arranged with effective use of classical instrumentation, stranger synth based sounds, unnerving vocal usage and dramatic -perhaps overly so- use of dynamics. However, while that's all well and good it doesn't keep me excited or interested for more then, say, 5 minutes or so. It's original and kind of good, but short of trying to pick up arty French girls (which isn't a bad idea, certainly) then you won't find yourself playing this record much, or at all.