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Vinterriket > Vinterriket / Vannvidd > Reviews
Vinterriket - Vinterriket / Vannvidd

Unremarkable French-German dark ambient pair - 50%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, March 25th, 2015

One-man ambient BM act Vinterriket was very prolific in releasing all manner of recordings - full-length albums, shorter works, splits with other acts, compilations - yet the quality of a lot of his work (to judge from the scores he gets from MA reviewers including myself) perhaps leaves something to be desired. The one album of his, a 2003 release, I heard did not impress me much; I felt that as ambient works go it was very generic. Maybe three years later, in 2006, with this split release with Vannvidd, Vinterriket has improved on his style and composition? Well, only one way for me to find out - listen to it!

Released as a cassette, this split is short at just under 30 minutes in length and Vinterriket leads off on the A-side with "Stille I" and "Stille II". The first piece is a very moody piece, heavy on the formless droning bass presence that shifts around like a giant shadow in the background. The main melody is equally cloudy and almost washed-out, and the two droning presences establish the general tone of Vinterriket's side of the split: dark and brooding, hinting at unseen and perhaps malevolent beings on the other side of our plane of existence observing our actions and close enough for us to know and fear their closeness. As the music goes by, various ambient tone effects and acoustic keyboards (piano, harpsichord) spice up the chilly soundscape but only temporarily. "Stille II" is an even darker and more introspective track immersed in deep cold space; interestingly, past the cold synth space tone melodies, the background sounds on the track resemble (and could very well be) field recordings of fairly strong waves lapping up and down a beach. This piece is a static one, content to float and let things pass by, and the interest level (mine at least anyway) flags past the halfway mark.

The Vannvidd project revolves completely around solo piano and three short tracks are presented. The music is very melancholy and the pianist plays with some feeling but I feel there's just not enough here. I'm no expert in judging solo piano performances but I'm sure these kinds of works rely a great deal on presentation, a particular kind of production that helps to bring out the emotion of the performance and even attention to how the piano is tuned, and how tight or loose the strings are. Vannvidd's performances here seem very bare and lack something special that should make his (her?) work stand out from other dark ambient work. The piano tones are unremarkable and don't add anything to the short tracks. Even the length and composition of these pieces are a problem: they would have been better off as one work as they don't sound very different from one another in tone and mood, and they would have formed a natural narrative that holds the melodies and moods together.

Of the two acts, Vinterriket was much better but even here, his music is still not very distinct and as darkspace ambient BM goes, it's not very original and still dominated by keyboards and synths.