02 Mar 2022 - Stephan
Krautrock, Ambient | Century Media | Release date: 25 Feb 2022
Guess the album’s genre by its instruments: Acoustic guitar, Alesis Quadraverb, Alesis Quadraverb II, Behringer Poly D, Crumar Orchestration, DOD 680, EHX Pog, Eventide Space, gongs and bowed cymbals, Hammond organ, Korg Minilogue, Korg XSD, Maestro Echoplex EP-3, MG-1 and MF Delay, Moog Grandmother and MF Delay, , Moog Micromoog and MF Delay, Moog Prodigy, Roland JP 8000, Roland RE-201 Space Echo, Roland RE-301 Chorus Echo and Boss RE-20 Space Echo, Roland TR-8S & RE-201 Space Echo, Sequential Circuits Six-Trak, Tambura, Visual Sound Dual Tap Delay and of course last but not least the Yamaha CS1X. Ha, gotcha! It’s not an album - it’s a space ship.
Yet seriously: This nerdy listing for sure reads like German krautrock guru Sula Bassana (Zone Six/ex-Electric Moon) had received a generous donation and recorded The Ape Regards His Tail, part 2. It could also have been the setup for the great late Jóhann Jóhannsson creating the sountrack to a movie set in the Seventies. And indeed Timewave Zero is a very honest and open curtsy before Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze, a slow and droning homage to the advent of analogue synthesizer ambient music.
The two tracks “Io” and “Ea”, each around twenty minutes long, feel like a safe and warm water bed which floats on the sound of the universe expanding. In very subtly and patiently shifting waves the sonic movements carry you through the depths of space to the surfaces of strange planets, through mysterious caverns and canyons, abandoned temples and ruins of lost civilisations, to the sparkle of your inner flame. Which is admittedly not all my imagination, but just a verbatim of the visuals accompanying the music, if you watch the bonus Blu Ray of the album’s CD version.
I highly recommend doing so, because you not only get a nice trippy video, of which both alien conspiracy granddad Erich von Däniken and Space Jesus would surely approve, but above all it comes with a very satisfying 5.1 surround mix. Despite the genre being extremely inviting to go overboard with letting the textures meander around in the room, this mix is not too flashy and really finds the right rhythm of when to utilize prominent three-dimensional motions, while generally just embedding you in the epicentre of this solacing soul washing. It really makes me want to sit in a planetarium performance of this album.
It goes without saying that none of the attributes and effects I’ve been describing come without a minimal effort of immersing yourself into the experience. But that is a general trait of the genre. You can of course use Timewave Zero as a relaxing everyday backdrop, but the true gravity (or is it anti-gravity?) - as well as the attention for the quite meticulous and detailed craftsmanship invested into this recording - will only present themselves to you if you allow them in. It remains unlikely though that you’ll find significant innovation or revolutionary ideas, because that is just not what the album is going for. This wants to be pure psychedelic ambient music, droning and fluxional, performed in the best way the artists are capable of, presented in an accordingly great matter of production. And it successfully does.
If you are into Anna von Hausswolff’s last instrumental album All Thoughts Fly or dig the most ethereal side of Dead Can Dance, if you’re into synth movie soundtracks or the romantic sidex of Justin Broadrick and Michael Gira… those are just some personal examples of the manifold directions from which Timewave Zero could possibly suck you in.
Yet while I completely endorse and recommend this record, there are a couple of things about it, which seem a little bit off:
The band name Blood Incantation and the unreadably logo don’t seem particularly ambient at all.
That’s of course because Blood Incantation have mainly established themselves as an amazing increasingly popular old-school brutal technical death metal band so far. Good for them that they’ve also established the sci-fi/space aesthetic of Timewave Zero and an openness for experimentation right from the beginning. So while the stylistic step from the acclaimed Hidden History Of the Human Race (read our review on it here) to an album without any guitars, drums, vocals or extreme metal, yes not even rock music of any kind, may seem radical at first, the basic ideas and also some of the instruments have already been intruduced before and the conceptual flow is astoundingly natural. And luckily the metal scene as a whole has grown quite mature over the years, right? Otherwise this being their first release on the big Century Media label could really make some tough and true metal gatekeepers cry, I guess. Oops, and there it happened.
And finally there’s the sidenote that both previous albums of Blood Incantation had shorter total playing times under forty minutes, but now this one is marketed as an EP? It gets even more absurd when you consider that with the sprawling “Chronophagia” the CD version contains an almost half-hour long, fully improvised bonus track, which makes the whole thing almost as long as both predeccessors combined.
Is this a sign of Century Media downplaying the release to soothe potential trolls? Or is it rather just the band’s humour? I prefer to assume the latter, get myself a cup of tea and let the “timewave” wash over me.