Various Artists – Where Tattered Clouds Are Stranding (The Eastern Front)

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Einar Jonsson (1874-1954) was an Icelandic sculptor and painter whose work is famous in his homeland, but little known outside of it. He is renowned for his large scale public works, and also his smaller private sculptures which used characters and stories from Norse mythology and Icelandic folk tales for their subject matter. Where Tattered Clouds Are Stranding is inspired by his art, and most of the tracks have been specially composed for this album. The compilation has been divided into two halves: disc 1 Grief features mainly songs in a neofolk/martial industrial/apocalyptic folk vein, whilst disc 2 Birth of Psyche consists largely of dark ambient/instrumental pieces.

Disc 1 opens with the minimalistic sounds of the now defunct German duo Belborn. On ‘Morgen’ a sinister voice whispers over strummed acoustic guitar, with heavily reverbed lead guitar providing the melody – and every now and then there’s a small eruption of white noise – uneasy listening, anyone? Polish outfit Horologium contribute the spooky ‘Fate’, based around a bombastic classical music sample. Russian/Israeli group Agnivolok weigh in with ‘Sculptor’ which begins with underwater clanks, whirrs and ominous strings, before rhythm guitar fades in, and then Vera Agnivolok’s beautiful voice enters the frame singing in Russian.

Disc 2 opens with ‘Symbolism’, a brooding piece of neoclassical ambience from Artefactum (Polish composer Merissa d’Erlette). ‘Violini e Rose’ is a lovely instrumental based around two violins with added effects from Italians Rose Rovine E Amanti. Australia’s own John Murphy appears in his Shining Vril guise with ‘Figure I’, which features a harmonium drone, with what might be electric guitar chords far in the background, and tinkling percussion and nature sounds in the foreground. (This short track is very impressive, and I’m sure I can’t be the only person who’s dying to hear a full-length Shining Vril release.) ‘Engill Ljssins’ is a slice of funereal atmospherics from Polish duo Bisclaveret, with deep droning strings overlaid with half-sung, half whispered vocals, and echoing piano notes.

All in all, this is a very satisfying compilation, with enough quality music contained within the stylish digifle packaging to keep the discerning music lover happy for quite some time.

Ewan Burke

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