28 Apr 2021 - Thorsten
Blackened Avantgarde | Sentient Ruin | Release date: 02 Apr 2021
A band with a wish for anonymity located in three countries on three continents writes a melange of everything dark and heavy, abstract and advanced via online sharing, gets together only for recording, is published on some of the finest metal labels and now is back with another incarnation of their bastardy grinding yet intricately beautiful version of experimental Black-Metal.
夢遊病者 (Sleepwalker) is this trio who found together online and has also been working online mostly, sharing their ideas and song parts online before they finally get together to record their “songs” - or rather planned jams. The latter becomes obvious when listening to the open-space-character or their music – wide, sometimes echoing industrial synth passages underneath the song stretching out and embracing each new element so that everything seems to flow into each other.
And everything can really be seen as a literal comparison here, because one can find basically every genre of avantgarde music in their compositions. If one was to find the most adequate genre to label 夢遊病者, many would probably choose Black-Metal as the obvious choice. However, I feel that the artistic freedom bordering on Free Jazz, the open spaces and arrangements can rather be attributed to early improvisational Krautrock like Can, Tangerine Dream or Amon Düül II. Maybe not in sound but in the willingness never to limit themselves, which is just the thing which signified the uniqueness of such bands. They had evolved “post”-rock before post-rock was a thing because they were willing to let go of conventions and logical song structures. This unconventional approach also shows up in the latest 夢遊病者 release.
On Noč Na Krayu Sveta (‘Night at the Edge of the World’) you find two tracks, both exactly 14:30 minutes long and each going through lots of phases. Interestingly each of these “phases” seems to be quite carefully laid out as spontaneous – but when looking closer it becomes clearer that the single phases are often linked with a rising of the synth, an off-shot noise-scream, a mellow post-rock passage or even a riff-line bordering on power metal (listen to the passage between minute 1:50 and 2:35 of the second track “Redemption / Retaliation”!) or even classic rock (the dreamy guitar solo starting at 6:16 in the same track!). And if necessary the trio even completely stops a track to “start” afresh with a new idea – this could be seen as the clearest hint at jams which are put together: if you can’t find a good bridge, stop and restart.
夢遊病者 are nothing short of masters of their craft and yet they are willing to let other people contribute to their compositions. On Noč Na Krayu Sveta you can find lots of guest spots ranging from lots of traditional string instruments (often coming from a Russian or Persian background) to flutes, trumpets and bass clarinet lines. The former gives the whole record this exotic feel because these guitar-like instruments become somewhat audible even amid all the noise and thunder, produced by the other instruments. To achieve that, mastering mastermind James Plotkin must have gone through several sleepless hours behind his desk, but the result is really magnificent, highlighting the different elements of Drone, Black-Metal, Post-Rock, Psychedelic, Krautrock, Jazz Noir, Noise and Middle-Eastern and Russian trads.
The album plays with the paradox and dichotomy of several ideas presented also within the song titles; the first track “Boundless Love / Resilience” presents two ideas which might not work together at first glance because they are not on the same level as one presents the strongest emotion there is and the other an attitude to life. Come to think about, one should notice that “Resilience” can stem from “Boundless Love” as one’s character becomes stronger if he or she feels unconditionally loved. “Redemption / Retaliation” is more difficult because these are really non-overlapping ideas but the idea of love (from track 1) is sound-wise carried over to that second track with its sometimes lofty elements – just before the next harsh break comes along. So maybe the “softer” parts resemble “Redemption” and the harsh breaks “Retaliation”, and both together form such a strong bond because (although at other ends of the emotional spectrum) they can dominate one’s though and emotions equally much.
To put a long story short and to try not to over-analyze everything: Sentient Ruin has once again shown its importance for the international (black) metal scene because they are willing to publish bands that are so much more than just the next Emperor or Mayhem-clone. 夢遊病者is like a crossover between Godspeed You! Black Emperor (YES!), Sumac, Zeni Geva, Ved Buens Ende and The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble. If you like the open mental attitude of any of these bands – go check out 夢遊病者 and their latest masterpiece Noč Na Krayu Sveta.