Karsten Hamre - _Broken Whispers_
(Flood the Earth, 2006)
by: T. DePalma (6 out of 10)
Karsten Hamre, founder or Arcane Art and Penitent, has returned with not just another approach to queer gothica. _Broken Whispers_ is the first ambient record issued by Hamre under his own name, with only residual aspects of his past work fused into more discomforting atmospheres.

The music is preceded by minimal design, laying the groundwork through the booklet's over-exposed photography and a five page voyage past stoic graveyard sentinels.

Brewing with ideas formed from slow budding keyboards droning next to slow-shuffling beats, the album's subdued soundtrack is enlivened by machine-like revolutions, eerie church bells and active trumpet samples used to enhance tension. Fifty minutes of this is ample time through which to discern what it is that Hamre is aiming for; but it's not always clear what he expects of the listener, for ambient music entails at least a minor suspension of disbelief.

Much of the album is beset with constricting effects (a mess of blips and digital snores) that feel annoyingly post-scripted and unrelated to the actual compositions. Trodden by these absurd sound loops (possibly meant as paranormal gestures), the cheeky electronic character of the music works against its more diligent and arresting features. With this in mind, _Broken Whispers_ is not a terrible album, but at the same time, I won't be rotating it along with the likes of Aeoga or Tor Lundvall. In the future, Mr. Hamre's ghosts will have to better conceal their wheels.

Contact: http://www.karstenhamre.com

(article published 18/5/2006)

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