11/10/2011

Review: Lamia Vox – …Introductio

Der Angriff/Indiestate Distribution, 2010


Tracklisting:

1) Dozing Citadels Of Kadath
2) The Ice Of Timeless
3) False Temple
4) Metasilentium
5) Descend
6) In A Black Candle Flame
7) Ad Nocte
8) Follow The Fallen Stars

Lamia Vox is the pseudonym of a young Russian female artist who’s managed to build a respectable reputation in the past few years. Whether that’s due to the fact that she’s female in a male-dominated scene, that she comes from Russia, which has been known to offer a major surprise in the dark ambient genre every now and then, or just the promising quality of her early material, I cannot really tell. Whatever the case, it was enough to catch the attention of Indiestate, arguably Russia’s most prominent dark ambient label, which released her debut album not so long ago.

Although the music itself doesn’t feel too complex, describing the sound of Lamia Vox is more difficult than may seem at first. Despite a very clear dark ambient orientation, the project’s influences are wide-ranging, and you can hear that almost instantly. The artist in question definitely has a penchant for brooding, ritualistic rhythms, used carefully and faintly, so as not to harm the atmosphere. This clever use of rhythm in various ways counters the effects the minimalistic atmosphere might impose and keeps the listener’s attention for the entire duration of the record. Coupled with the frankly excellent dynamics (I can’t stress how important this is on a dark ambient album), the album definitely feels fleshy enough to deserve repeated listens. Another very prominent feature of Lamia Vox’s sound is her love for gothic overtones; many stretches of subtle keyboards and processed vocals are dispersed throughout the tracks, and while it doesn’t really go into the territory of film noir or anything, it gives a very peculiar cinematic spice to the whole story. The track titles only serve to reinforce this impression.

Variety can be a double-edged sword, however. If you just look at how many different facets of the project’s sound I’ve cited in the previous paragraph, you may think that it might be a bit too much for a single full-length. And it is. There are moments on this record that I find almost inexplicably rushed, such as the track “False Temple”, which has so many elements that feel absolutely crammed: heartbeats, chants, high-pitched keyboard samples, woodwind instruments and so on. The last track, on the other hand, starts off nicely enough, only to explode into a (too) rhythmic piece worthy of Triarii or similar martial industrial artists, creating a hardly fit climactic end after a rather tame and relaxed album. These erratic switches create a somewhat schizophrenic atmosphere, and are a definite drawback from the otherwise good material, which makes the album sound more like a compilation than a well thought-out concept.

It’s futile to seek or expect perfection from a debut album, especially from an artist as young as Lamia Vox. Therefore, if I discount some of my issues with this record, all of which are of the aforementioned kind (coherence and balance), this is a fairly good album in its own right. It’s varied, interesting, and showcases a lot of creativity. And when there’s creativity, the only problem that remains is how to channel it in the best possible way. Lamia Vox has done a decent enough job in this aspect, and I’m looking very much forward to her next offerings (and if the recently published “Saur Maas” (Kalpamantra, 2011) compilation is anything to go by, she's honed her skills considerably). In the meantime, I’ll gladly be listening to Introductio”, as it’s worthy of more than a few spins.

7/10

Lamia Vox @ MySpace