01/11/2011

Review: Therradaemon – Den Mørke Munnens Språk

Cyclic Law, 2011


Tracklisting:

1) Levende Sort
2) Ildspor
3) Den Mørke Munnens Språk
4) Et Arr Av Lys

Prolific is a word rarely associated with Hærleif Langås, the mastermind of Northaunt, so if he decides to postpone the already long-awaited final Northaunt full-length in favour of another project, and Cyclic Law decides to release it, then it’s certainly worthy of attention, if anything. But why create an entirely separate project? Would the standalone vision behind Therradaemon be so radically different than Northaunt to earn itself a new alias? After all, dark ambient can only stretch so far if it intends to remain within the confines of the genre. However, as soon as I got the pre-release press material, I knew that the answer to that question was a resounding yes. An hour’s worth of material spanning across only four tracks, with cryptic titles and a cryptic album artwork engulfed in black. Sounds like an interesting, and different, voyage.

I’ve heard the term ultra-dark ambient being tossed around upon the announcement of this project, but it can’t be applied to this album in general. It’s true that this is probably the artist’s darkest output yet, but it doesn’t reach the ominous soundscapes as heard from the likes of Lustmord, for instance, nor does it attempt to. The album is defined and characterised by the long tracks, which are more like chapters than tracks, really, and that reflects on the album’s composition too. The elements used are very subtle, comprising separate motives rather than any sort of backbone which would stretch for the length of an entire track. Some are revisited, some aren’t. You don’t know when one track has ended and another begun. Likewise, you don’t know how far off you are into a particular track. There’s no build-up, no culmination. It can feel very confusing and erratic at first, especially if you’re accustomed to more melodic takes on the genre, but never random. While it’s clear than no track was composed with a single idea in mind, it’s also perfectly clear that there is a single idea spanning across the entirety of the album. All of this contributes to a very peculiar sonic aftertaste, one I can’t say I’ve come across before.

While the essence of the album is a bit elusive, its songwriting is not, and has been heard on a few occasions. The tracks can be said to be threaded by a single string which the listener descends on, encountering various samples along the way. However, instead of a melody, this string consists of bass drones and rumblings, almost undetectable, like a sonic portrayal of profound darkness interspersed by samples and pulses, doubling as glimmers of light, quick to appear and disappear. If this description sounds like an audible representation of deep space, you’re not too far off the track; even if there was no obvious attempt on the artist’s part to make it so, I couldn’t escape the feeling of listening to Lustmord’s or perhaps Thomas Köner’s take on such a theme. The impossibility to predict what’s to come next makes for a very involving experience, and the lack of any melody or clear progressions makes that experience more personal, as you’re pretty much left to your own imagination. It’s quite impressive that the album manages to remain so engaging, but never descriptive by itself – the meanings are for you to decipher.

If I had to pick a single adjective to apply to this album, it would likely be surprising. Not that it’s particularly groundbreaking or revolutionary in any way, but it’s still composed in such a clever way that you can see it took some time for its seed to grow and develop. It manages to remain both simple in its nature and complex in its scope. At a time when many high-end projects have become predictable and self-replicating, it’s refreshing to see someone pull off something fresh with all the well-known elements. It’s just one of those projects that are destined not to see a sophomore album, remaining the odd and mysterious child of the family for good. I’d even go as far as to recommend this album over anything that’s been released under the Northaunt moniker so far, just for its originality.

8/10

Official Therradaemon website
Therradaemon @ Facebook

Buy CD @ Cyclic Law
Buy CD @ Amazon.com