Silence and Strength - _Opus Paracelsum_
(The Eastern Front, 2006)
by: Quentin Kalis (7 out of 10)
This is a concept album, inspired by the life and works of Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim (aka Paracelsum), a medieval Swiss physician, chemist and alchemist. Apparently, he is regarded as one of the fathers of modern medicine, and was the first to properly define a poison. This is not the first time that mastermind Stephan Friedman has been influenced by a rather esoteric character -- a similar arcane personality formed the inspiration for his previous album, namely the 18th century occultist and freemason Alessandro di Cagliostro.

Silence and Strength has some good ideas, especially when creating typically cold and dismal soundscapes. However, he ruins this effect by including some rather ludicrous effects, such as on "On Nymphs, Gnomes, Giants, Dwarfs, Incubi and Succubie: Stars and Signs", which includes sounds somewhere between dolphins and stoned hippies, while the colourfully titled "Of Those Possessed by the Malignant Spirit of the Devil (Bescheisser)" contains effects that sound like an inane cross between Donald Duck and gurgling babies. Dodgy sound effects and title verbiage aside, Friedman reveals himself to otherwise be a accomplished post-industrial artist, capable of evoking a variety of emotions on the listener, occasionally threatening to cross the nebulous divide between ambient and its darker cousin.


(article published 23/6/2007)

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