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Antiklimax - 2008 - "Aurora Polaris"

(52:24, Dreaming Records)


*****
                 
TRACK LIST:                   

1.  Landing 1:49
2.  Air 5:16
3.  The Lake 2:52
4.  Etaiset Aanet 4:53
5.  Nightlife 5:37
6.  Crystal Broken Chords 4:47
7.  Northbound 9:22
8.  Slow Down 5:06
9.  Derelict Stations 5:34
10. Away From Her 3:42
11. Epilog 3:26

LINEUP:

Jaana Palonen  vocals; keyboards; programming
Vincent Benesy  keyboards; guitar; programming
Vincent Coubert  keyboards; guitar, glockenspiel 
Margus Mets  sampling, etc 
With:
Annette Garau  vocals 

Prolusion. ANTIKLIMAX is an international project led by Vincent Benesy and based in his homeland, France. "Aurora Polaris" is the sophomore release by Benesy under this project name, and follows 2 years after the debut album "Plus Loin Vers l'Est". As with his first creation, this latest offering has been issued by Dreaming, a sub-label of the French recording company Musea which specializes in electronic music.

Analysis. There's quite a variety to the releases issued by the Dreaming label; few of the ones I've encountered for the last year or so have followed a typical musical style, apart from the dominant use of electronic instruments. And Antiklimax adds another dimension to the output of this fine label with the release in question. Multilayered, slow moving keyboard layers are yet again a constant feature and certain leanings towards new age music are a facet of this production as with most others from this label. But this time around we're taken on a trip to alien-sounding musical territories. Dark and cold sounds dominate in most compositions here, leading the thoughts towards deep space as well as mystical, strange life forms in a far away galaxy. Or perhaps the eternal chill of the Arctic and Antarctic, an alien landscape right here on Earth, almost devoid of life, where the auroras the album is named after show off spectacular lightshows that are as awe-inspiring as they are strange, beautiful and, indeed, alien. Dark, ambient and often non-melodic atmospheres are frequently visited throughout this creation, as the opening of a musical exploration or inserted later on. Bleak rhythms with an industrial tinge will underline the lifeless, barren atmosphere visited and at the same time provide an element taking the composition forward. Female vocals are used on a select few compositions as melody providers, bringing life, vitality and emotion to those songs, but in most cases multilayered keyboard patterns and electronic sounds and noises form the main melodies. In most cases contrasting layers of sounds are utilized, with one or more dark pattern forming spacey, slightly ominous sounding undercurrents, while one or more light layers provide the main melody. Most times there's frequently a mix of sounds from several of these patterns that together make up the central theme explored. Majestic, epic-sounding moods are created with the same ease as fragile, ambient atmospheres on this outing, and even in the instances where a driving bass line gets to show off a bit or the electric guitar is given room to provide drawn out, dissonant chords or atmospheric explorations, the overall feel of these compositions is one of darkness, cold and alien, at times slightly sinister too. There's great beauty to be found here though; one mostly devoid of emotion and life, but beauty nonetheless. On the downside, none of the compositions are of the awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping kind that make you want to listen to one or more song over and over again. In other words, this is a good and strong release overall, compelling and intriguing, but not so to perfection.

Conclusion. If barren, alien but beautiful electronic music sounds like a good thing, this is a production to check out. Some leanings towards new age music are a facet of this release, but the general mood explored will probably not be that interesting to people into that particular style. Instead, I would think that fans of Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream would find this to be a fascinating album, especially those fond of the less commercially-oriented output of these bands.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: January 1, 2008
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Musea Records
Antiklimax


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