Tag: The Epicurean

Skeldos – Ilgės – Caretakers of Yearning – Review

Artist: Skeldos
Album: Ilgės – Caretakers of Yearning
Release date: 5 April 2019
Label: The Epicurean

01. Melas – A Lie
02. Ilges – Caretakers of Yearning
03. Blunkantys Sodai – Fading Gardens

It is with immense pleasure that I am able to bring you an (heavily) updated version of my previous Skeldos review. As I lamented in the final paragraph, Skeldos is a brilliant musician and one that was deserving of much more exposure than previously realized. While my review, at the time, may have helped a few extra people find their way to and purchase this beautiful album, it was still sadly left under-the-radar. Now, finally, Skeldos has found a proper label, The Epicurean, one that is well-respected within the post-industrial community, which will likely bring his music to the attention of a much larger audience. As it so greatly deserves.

For this re-release Skeldos has added a third track to the album “Blunkantys Sodai – Fading Gardens” and the album has been renamed Ilges – Caretakers of Yearning. It has also been mastered by Hunter Barr, and is now available as a CD. But, more on the physical aspects later.

Skeldos is an “anxious electronic, industrial, ambient” project by Vytenis Eitminavičius of Lithuania. Ilgės – Caretakers of Yearning is his third full length solo release. While his debut album, Įspaudai, was released on the Lithuanian label Terror, his last two solo releases, as well as his brilliant collaboration, Aviliai with fellow Lithuanian ambient/drone artist Daina Dieva, have all been independently released. (Though this has now been remedied with the re-release!)

Skeldos focuses on a form of drone/dark ambient which at times can be incredibly relaxing and calm. But it can move into varied territories with little awareness from the listener. The sounds seem to morph effortlessly. While the music itself can sound a good bit different at times, the approach to these soundscapes seems quite reminiscent of Kammarheit, or some amalgamation of Kammarheit and Taphephobia, maybe. Or at their harshest of times (not present on this album) can come into territory more aligned with artists like Jarl or Yen Pox, creating textures which can seem chaotic and over-bearing, but are still able to totally draw the listener into their coils, taking us on a mental voyage to destinations unknown. An interesting caveat here is that it would appear Skeldos creates all his “drones” with real acoustic instruments, namely on this album: accordion, Lithuanian zither, violin and guitar.

The first track on Ilgės, “Melas – A Lie”, falls somewhere in the middle of Skeldos‘ range of soundscapes. There is a slight harshness, but it is predominately a sort of trance-inducing dronescape, which has little variation, and yet has managed to keep my full attention over many, many replays. I could maybe lightly compare the style to something more reserved on Aural Hypnox. The second track, “Ilgės – Caretakers of Yearning”, takes us into calmer, more melancholic territory. The backing dronework has a sort of celestial/shimmering/peaceful quality to it, which is accentuated by its solitude within the track. As listeners begin to sink into this trance, Skeldos introduces, for the first time on Ilgės – Caretakers of Yearning, what I think is his most defining characteristic. His vocals. Skeldos has a very relaxing mid-deep ranged vocal quality. His vocals sound as if they are a lullaby, cutting through the darkness of night, in a sort of melodic whisper. As we reach the end of the track, the energy of the soundscapes, as well as Vytenis‘ vocals, pick up momentum for a more emotional finale.

The third track, “Blunkantys Sodai – Fading Gardens”, is the new addition to the album, as mentioned above. I’m not sure if this was an out-take from the original sessions or if it was created exclusively for the re-release. But, it fits perfectly with the first two tracks. The soundscapes follow a similar pattern to those of the previous track and we are again graced with another short but beautiful vocal section. The inclusion of this new track brings the total album length to a more satisfying 45 minutes.

The inspiration for this album was taken from the poem “melas” or “A Lie” by Lithuanian writer Antanas Škėma. As with the previous version, the poem/lyrics have been included in the digifile, in their original Lithuanian as well as in English translation. While the poetry of the first track was written by Antanas Škėma, the second two tracks have lyrics/poetry composed by Skeldos himself.

The cover-art for this version has been updated, but is still very similar to the original. The CD is housed in a beautiful 6-panel digifile made with high-quality natural paper. The special edition, which is limited to 25 copies, takes this “natural” element one step further. It includes the same digifile as the standard version, along with: Tibetan prayer flags, incense, refuge ribbon & a certificate for donation on joss paper.

As stated on The Epicurean‘s Bandcamp page, in regard to the special edition:
“€3 is going direcly to the German association ”Bridge of Friendship e.V.”. Their aim is to support the ”Karma Leksheyling” – an intermediate English-Tibetan school for girls and boys from low-income families from the Himalayan region, who are denied access to other forms of education. Its purpose is to provide Buddhist training and qualified general education for young nuns and monks in order to empower them to assume their responsibility for the protection and preservation of Buddhist teachings in the future.”

As many of us are coming to realize in this brave new world, an increase in Buddhist teachings would likely do the planet some good, as a whole. It is heart-warming to see a “dark music” label focusing on outreach to such an altruistic cause. It is also a testament to the fact that while we love dark music, we are not bad people. We just often see the world from a darker more pessimistic lens than most…

Skeldos is a true gem to the post-industrial community. There is an air of the ancient and folk, and a feeling of melancholy which many dark ambient and drone artists can only dream to achieve. Each time I listen to Skeldos I am reinvigorated by the wonders present in his soundscapes. I am beyond pleased to be returning to this wonderful release with its additional track, new mastering, and beautiful new physical presentations. I highly recommend this album, HIGHLY!

I will hopefully have an interview with Vytenis to share with you all in the near future. I’m very much looking forward to picking his brain!

Written by: Michael Barnett

Anemone Tube/Post Scriptvm – Litaniæ Mortuorum Discordantes – Review

Artist: Anemone Tube / Post Scriptvm
Album: Litaniæ Mortuorum Discordantes
Release date: 1 December 2016
Label: The Epicurean / La Escencia

01. Anemone Tube – Myth and the Relation to the World
02. Anemone Tube – Recueillement (Sa Propre Mort)
03. Anemone Tube – Irruption of the Whore
04. Post Scriptvm – Buried in Fabula
05. Post Scriptvm – Dark and Nameless Gods
06. Post Scriptvm – Laterne D’Horreur (Lantern of Horror)

Anemone Tube & Post Scriptvm are two well known and respected post-industrial projects which have been releasing music on various labels for well over a decade each. In 2012, The Epicurean label was formed, releasing many of the subsequent works by both of these musical projects. When listening to either Anemone Tube or Post Scriptvm, followers will usually expect deeply complex soundscapes which often fall on the harsher spectrum of the dark ambient, power electronics or death industrial genres. Litaniæ Mortuorum Discordantes will likely be a surprising release for many, as the sounds on this album are vastly subdued in comparison to the usual sonic intensity of either project.

As a fan of dark ambient that dabbles in death industrial and power electronics, I found Litaniæ Mortuorum Discordantes to be an exceedingly interesting album. The theme of this opus combined with the funereal dreary soundscapes immediately attracted my attention. Early on in my considering this release for review, I realized that the vinyl version would likely be the optimal listening format for such a work. Upon purchase of that vinyl, I can say that this theory has proven accurate, and I highly recommend any reader that enjoys the themes and/or sounds herein to consider purchasing a copy of the incredibly well-crafted vinyl version of this release. The album would be classified as a “split release”, but I urge listeners to think of this as one whole unified musical experience. The album progresses through the six tracks in a way that feels natural and brings the vision of both artist to fruition without a clash of interests or jarring shift in structure.

Litaniæ Mortuorum Discordantes takes its inspiration from a classical style of ritual music which, instead of inducing a positive euphoria in its Christian listeners, induced feelings of “dread, existential anxiety and feelings of death and decay”, as these musicians aptly describe it. Anemone Tube & Post Scriptvm decided to create their own ‘Litaniæ Mortuorum Discordantes’ or, in English, ‘Discordant Death Litanies’ as this seemed particularly appropriate for their musical tastes combined with our infatuation and mad-dash toward an apocalyptic end-time.

Anemone Tube takes the first half/side of the album. Their music, as alluded to previously, is extremely subdued in comparison to the works which I have come to recognize as representative of their trademark sound. The first track “Myth and the Relation to the World” is quite simplistic, consisting of the sounds of some distorted chants and haunted choirs backed by peaceful yet brooding drone-work. It is followed by the equally subdued “Recueillement (Sa Propre Mort)”, which translates to something like Contemplation (His/Her Own Death) in English. This track again features a slowly shifting drone-scape which seems to originate from some lonely-sounding horn. Both of these tracks leave ample room for the listener to become lost in thought, pondering the meaning of life… and death, or to simply meditate on the sounds.

“Irruption of the Whore” is the first move into the more anxiety driven, disturbed soundscapes, which will fully blossom on the Post Scriptvm half of the release. The track consists of bells which shift and distort, a hollow airy drone floating subtly in the background. As the intensity increases further into the track, we hear raspy noises and sounds akin to haunting voices. Chains seem to rattle in the background as other industrial noises combine to form what almost could be considered a percussive beat. This beat, as we move over to the second half, will translate into a beating heart, which provides a foundation for the first of the Post Scriptvm tracks.

Post Scriptvm will gradually build upon the intensity that was introduced in “Irruption of the Whore”. “Buried in Fabula” starts with a contorted passage which seems to have religious undertones. A heartbeat builds the foundation, before drones enter the fold, which blend miraculously well into the sounds of haunted choirs. Feedback and white-noise moves in and out of the mix adding a further sense of anxiety and dread. The sense of increasing anxiety bleeds into the following track, “Dark and Nameless Gods”. Spoken word continues as well from the previous track, with sparse words which are hard to separate from the mix, but give an added measure of darkness and dread to the composition.

The final track, “Laterne D’Horreur”, which translates to English as “Lantern of Horror”, is certainly the apex of Litaniæ Mortuorum Discordantes. This track continues to descend into darkness and apocalyptic despair. The sounds have an almost futuristic sort of sci-fi feel to them. Field recordings of what sounds like wolves howling cut unexpectedly into the mix. Contorted synths give an effect as if they are raspy gasps for air from some dæmoniac creature. The track slowly subdues and descends into a harsh noise, that never becomes prominent as it mingles with what sounds like cries and cats screaming in terror. This may all sound as if it has become absurd, like some 50s horror film, and indeed it does feel reminiscent of something akin to this, yet it manages to keep its intended atmosphere as well as its integrity throughout this strange experience.

Litaniæ Mortuorum Discordantes is clearly a triumph for these two veteran artists. The album succeeds in its attempts at creating an atmosphere of religious blasphemy, a kind of funeral music for the dark-minded and irreligious. For a veteran listener of dark ambient and other weird and “spooky” music, I’m delighted to say that Litaniæ Mortuorum Discordantes manages to instill an unsettling feeling of dread and anxiety in my soul, a feat that is not often achieved. Listen to Litaniæ Mortuorum Discordantes in the midnight hours, alone in the dark, incense burning and mind open to the dark entities of the night. Or, if it is possible, play this in a cathedralic setting, and witness the utter disgust and terror of some unsuspecting clergy, the effect should be a delight to witness.

Written by: Michael Barnett

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