Sempervirens - _Dirge of the Dying Year_
(Stellar Auditorium, 2008)
by: Andreas Marouchos (7 out of 10)
I must say, I find this particular brand of music, i.e. ambient, a tad difficult to describe, let alone review. Imagine trying to portray in linguistic terms the sounds and impressions of an early morning rise in some remote forest setting: the waking chirping of the birds, the sprawling fauna blooming to embrace yet another day's worth of sunlight... How exactly does one fully capture this circumambient configuration of sound without giving way to some seemingly structureless orchestration, without sacrificing percussive rhythm for sheer intuitive fluidity from soundscape to soundscape? This is much the case with bands such as Biosphere, Aphex Twin, Lustmord, Undiscovered Moons of Saturn and evidently this one-man outfit known as Sempervirens. One could even say that this is music in its most un-adulterated yet un-refined form.

Sempervirens' ethereal soundcraft is skeletal when it comes to instrumental complexity, but soothingly evocative in imagery nonetheless -- you don't so much listen as participate in the music yourself, weaving mindscapes out of this amorphous, transparent tapestry of sound this Estonian act is laying down. All components -- rumbling ambience, voice samples (including a snippet of Edward Norton from "Fight Club"), distorted fragments of classical music and resonating, crisp drones -- are contextualised within this rich thematic framework. They dissolve into some form of aesthetic Gestalt, an audial meta-structure that demands to be heard and absorbed fully rather than being actively dissected / analysed / reduced into its different constituents.

As previously mentioned, it is quite difficult to give an apt description of music that belongs to this particular ilk. Even an arbitrary scale of 0 to 10 isn't quite enough to quantify the impression that any given listener at any given time will experience after listening to the album. This is exactly because the raw sense-experience induced is nigh impossible to objectify. Attempts at such a task abound but are, more often that not, restricted to metaphor. I purposefully tried to avoid such a strategy. Yes, _Dirge of the Dying Year_ might very well sound like resting peacefully at the bottom of an ocean, or like traversing the barren landscape of some far away planet, but is there not any other way? Could there be? Schopenhauer once wrote that pure music is not merely an accompaniment to the listener's surroundings but it -becomes- his surroundings -- I suppose it's as good an answer as any.


(article published 26/7/2008)

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