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Mystical Melodious Murmurings - 86%

Five_Nails, February 13th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, Die Neue Runde (Limited edition, CD-R)

Sagittarius' third fragment is a marked leap from the previous edition. Separated by seven years, two full-lengths, two EPs, new production, refined and confident singing, and new musical approaches, this latest passage marks the progress of time and hard work in wonderful sound. From the opening notes, it is clear that the solemn style stands to benefit from more advanced recording equipment. This allows the full sound of a song like “Traum und Tod” to thicken the room with glistening chimes, a hearty percussion, and shrill treble that crack through the piano's dismal demeanor to create an ensemble that subverts the atmosphere the listener usually expects from Waldner and company. Comprised of leftovers from over four years of production, these unreleased pieces serve as a good look into the evolution of Sagittarius from the 'Salon Décadence' split to 'The Kingdom Come', the band's third full-length album, as the atmosphere of each song easily fits into the period it was produced as well as strongly contributes to this stand alone EP.

The longest tracks on this release are “Der Heautontimorumenos” and a cover of Darkthrone's “Transylvanian Hunger”. “Der Heautontimorumenos” features absolutely gorgeous singing from the operatic and intense Fräulein König to the teary treble of Beethoven style piano and slow screams of the recorder, creating a tender harmony vulnerable to exposure as it decays over time. The “Transylvanian Hunger” cover is coldly lead by a crisp piano as guitars, sounding like malodorous mandolins, thickly tremolo just behind the ivories. Whispered vocals, chilled and voracious, cut their way through each verse with little grits of gravel slightly slicing the mix with a breath of arctic wind and sporadic screams erupting across the snowy expanse.

While those two captivating pieces comprise a major part of the album's length and draw the main focus from the listener, there are equally alluring segments throughout “Valse Brillante”, “Runes and Men”, and the Romanian titled “Plânge printre ramuri luna”, an ending that elaborates on Waldner's recurring theme of contemplating the Moon as the midnight oil burns. With quiet castanets and finger cymbals, as well as another instance of that gorgeous backup vocal from Fräulein König, the guitar-led folk of “Valse Brillante” brings back the full and fun atmosphere of “Little Black Angel” with a more traditional tone. One of Waldner's more appreciable talents is in surrounding himself with musicians who can help expand his aims. The contributions of Marcel P. in this song, among the other more collaborative pieces throughout this album, show how unwilling this musician is to stagnate and play things safe. Instead, these unreleased tracks show how many elements and contributors Waldner is willing to experiment with to find a compelling, exploratory, and well-rounded sound. In “Runes of Men” this shows with its top-heavy combination of trilling flute whirling around the female vocal as they drift atop an acoustic guitar rhythm that sits nearly level with the percussion. This beautiful and calming song is simultaneously anthemic and able to rouse singing from a crowd. So, “drink a German wine” as the song challenges common notions with its own assurance that 'the world must change for the good of you' in order to truly charm you with its hospitality.

Seven years after 'Fragmente II', Waldner has come back to the album series with leaps of improvement while showing off some deeper cuts that fill the back catalog in Sagittarius' repertoire. In striking contrast to the Spartan helmet monopolizing the cover, Sagittarius has become more full of life and less austere in its music. Throughout the time separating 'Fragmente II' and this fresh fragment, Cornelius Waldner has changed the landscape around him, marked it with new companions, and bountifully reaps wherever he sows.