24 Oct 2020 - Thorsten
Blackgaze | Release date: 24 Oct 2020
Jonathan Fraser’s latest record could be seen as a typical 2020-Blackgaze-record - but it’s way too personal to be seen as such a cliché.
Jonathan Fraser is one of the perfect examples of how often we are led astray by our subconscious labeling of people – one would never guess that there is a black metal soul inside this very humble and gentle person. But when listening to his music it becomes clear that there are some inner demons having taken hold of this man, who together with the help of some friends recorded some wonderful blackgaze music very much in the vein of Skyforest or Numenorean. A lot of swirling, swooshing, uplifting spherical guitar-work that is happening in these songs that are perfectly contrastingly laid upon driving drums. Speaking of drums; that is something one should behold on this record: The drums are sharp and poignant but never pounding, which means, they are the force majeure on the album but never try to outperform the other instruments – signs of a good and thoughtful mix. The other, dominant instrument is, of course, the guitar, and here Fraser delivers so many brilliant moments, for example the move from high-pitched crescendos to intimate picking after a bit more than three minutes of “Empty Prayers, Hollow Gestures”. This track also leads to the motivation behind the album: the artist Jonathan Fraser wrote this for the person Jonathan Fraser, who for near-two years has been suffering from the loss of his dear mother to cancer. He even published an EP with ‘music’ that was recorded alongside his mum’s dying. In the booklet one found documents to show how he experienced this slow decay; Fraser himself doesn’t even consider this a proper release but it seems to be his chronicle for those nine months. And somehow there is a connection between these records – the strong intimacy created by his work, the simplicity of some of the synth structures building upon each other, the heartfelt pain going into every hit on the keys. Jonathan is – as of now – not healthy, he probably wouldn’t even say that himself. It’s an ongoing process: learning to live on, to live again, to be again. To cope and not be ashamed of still being here. For him, this new album is the next step; for us, it is a good record to listen to. Blackgaze á la mode de 2020.