Saturday, April 3, 2010


Ars Magna reissues a two song, 20 minute EP from shoegaze hypnodowners Trancelike Void. On their previous records, TLV have turned in gorgeous and depressive hymns to the exhausting banality and tedium of existence, grinding through highly melodic passages over and over until a sort of transcendence has been achieved. Their last record, "Unveiling the Silent Arms of Despair," showed them to be the absolute masters of this form. Although it was only an EP as well, the emotional depth on display across its two tracks was breathtaking, and it remains one of the most haunting, beautiful and inspiring black metal albums that i have ever heard.
This new EP is an incredible risk for TLV. It's entirely acoustic and considerably less dark in both tone and aesthetic than its predecessors. Few black metal bands have been able to achieve any sort of success with all acoustic efforts; only Ulver and Drudkh come to mind, and those works, while certainly worthwhile, seemed efforts of novelty more than anything. Other bands, like Dead Reptile Shrine and Varghkoghargasmal, use acoustic instruments much of the time but are far more forest drone and communal in nature than true black metal. So it's a dicey gamble with the potential to alienate a lot of dedicated listeners.
When i first heard it i wasn't impressed, and found myself wishing the material had been done in the traditional TLV style. There was a lack of power and immediacy that seemed necessary to TLV's approach on "Where the Trees Can Make It Rain" and i was a little confused by what the whole point of the exercise was. Upon further listenings, it has become clear that i personally was missing something. This record grows on you and displays its true power with repeated attention. The mood and emotion is buried deep and only through focus and meditation can you hope to unlock the heart of it. This is autumn on the cusp of winter rendered into song. This is falling backwards into a cracked and crumbling pile of dead leaves, while winds swirl around you and skies loom grey above you. It isn't sadness so much as change, nor melancholy as much as resignation. There is nothing different songwise-this is what TLV have always done in the past-but the absence of vocals creates a further intimacy and lulling inward pull that the other records haven't had. It's almost as though it's a 20 minute guided journey into your memories. I can't imagine this record having anything other than an intensely personal effect on its listeners, and despite the images that TLV have chosen to use as display for these pieces, what you're going to see and feel is going to be entirely up to you if you go deep enough. I'm very, very impressed with this experiment and could easily see Trancelike Void using these elements more heavily in the future.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This is a really nice review, Cory.