Transatlantic ensemble descend into the darkness of their second decade carrying cryptic torch up high.
“The Esoteric is coming soon”: thus reads the tagline on the Swiss-American duo’s web-hole at the time of writing, which is par for the course given the enigmatic Roman numerals that adorn the images in this album’s booklet without providing any logical clue to their meaning. Sure, the same can always be said about the gloomy, electronica-tinged messages of the group’s songs, although the narrative behind “Before Life Was Death” has an irrationally reasonable atmosphere about it, the deliciously oppressive air shrouding its grave gravitas full of fire and sulfur. The effect of such arrangements should send the down-on-their-luck folks to the farthest reaches of despair, yet Slade Templeton’s vocals and Basil Oberli’s beats aim at those whose complacency must get ruptured.
That’s why the punchy “It’s So Strange” proclaims, “This is a song for the weak,” before starting for the new-wave dancefloor, and that’s why “Left For Dead” feels so spellbinding when the wails of the voice in the wilderness are wrapped in the walls of wonderful clang before chanted lyrics nail riffs into an exotic melody, and “Blossom” orders the listener to bite their nails and remain themselves, while speeding things up in a motorik manner as if chasing the Krautrock sonics. However, whereas the heavily breathing “The Fourth Entity” is embroidered with an exquisite piano ripple and a half-hidden guitar filigree, “Nevermind” blesses the flow with a vibrant, velveteen balladry, and “Those Burning Words” locates tangible sensuality in a spectral groove. On the other hand, the glacial confusion of “Roadblocks fails to convince anyone in the artists’ bewilderment, and “The Raven’s Call” doesn’t sound as angry as it purports to be – unlike “For A Second Of Love”: the record’s warm yet dispassionate finale.
Still, read this platter’s title once again – and see how positive its message is. In their swapping of existential experience the international duo delivered an ultimate paean to human will.