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Mathias Grassow & John Haughm "Auræ" CD
After amazing collaborative debut "Mosaic", released during June 2012, German dronescaper par excellence Mathias Grassow and one of the driving forces behind acclaimed progressive US dark metal project Agalloch, John Haughm, celebrate their return with second chapter entitled "Auræ"!!! Released during June 2015 on Agalloch's Dämmerung Arts label. Visual splendor is just like on "Mosaic" delivered by eye-catching 4-panel digipak with 8-page booklet, featuring stunning collection of images by Agalloch's fine art photographer Veleda Thorsson with art direction and design by John Haughm. Additional credits include Chris Greene (final engineering and mixing) and Gus Elg (mastering). Last but not least, this album is dedicated to the memory of Edgar Froese.
Utilizing a wide line-up of electronic and acoustic instruments, more or less traditional, for example chimes made from railroad spikes, bowed psaltery, electric kantele or bodhrán, plus field recordings, vocals/voices, samples..., Mathias Grassow & John Haughm ignite the journey with "Eindringliche Präsenz". This 10 and half minute long track immediately sets the atmosphere with its deeply immersing palette of magmatic drones with growling cello, mesmerizing angelic choirs, perplexingly helixing throat singing, cavernously echoed array of rusty bells... Colossal drone walls undulate in a truly mindcaping style and the listener experiences exquisitely breathtaking aural odyssey, a journey to the forefront of trancendental electroacoustic dronecarving!!! Bravo, gentlemen!!! Certainly one of the most puissant sonic escapades of 2015!!! 12-minute "Æther" sounds quite inconspicuous, more serene and meandering during its first five or six minutes, reinforced by assorted fragments and traceries, but then the primary drift smoothly progresses until it fully transmutes into another multidimensional drone ecstasy, painting imposingly towering spirals, and astonishingly amplified by mysteriously intangible trembles. My jaw drops once again and my ears are bathed in spellbindingly infinite drone bliss!!! The following piece "Ereignis" delves into more quieter, celestial-infused terrains, where monochromatic layers with voice-like drones are intricately magnified by ephemeral razor-sharp stringed scraps (maybe electric kantele?), which later metamorphose into slightly rawer and rumbling scenario imbued by surging tension with weirdly coiled distant biotic glimpses, while the drone base voluminously swells and perpetually hypnotizes. "Eindruck" dives deeper into fascinatingly unfathomable depths with its massive dronescapes, displaying all innate and mastered insignias of the Drone Kaiser, devastatingly, yet expressively flatlined on first sight, but underneath the surface warmer layers calmly arise and surreptitiously permeate through the monolith. Then follows John Haughm's turn. Tiding and cascading high-pitched wistfulness sneaks in along with organic glints and elusively remote beat, mesmerically spiraling and slightly awaking the unforgettable tranquilness of "The Road To Wirikuta". Silent departure from subterranean domains is securely accomplished. Certainly a very suitable conclusion to this staggeringly mind-blowing recording!!!
"Auræ", same as its predecessor "Mosaic", reaches 45 minutes only, so this must me my only complaint, otherwise this is a very strong nominee for the Best of 2015 release in the genre!!! Magnificently broad spectrum of ingeniously equilibrated drone magic meticulously interacts with each track title, hats off to both maestros for their alchemistical bravura!!! "Auræ" is another superb collaborative effort!!! And when focusing on Mathias Grassow, get ready for the next journey through magnificent nothingness, his "AeroAreA" monster 4CD Set was released only several weeks ago on Russian GS Productions label. On the other side, John Haughm has most recently completed with Agalloch their extensive "Serpens In Cvlmination" West Coast and European tours.
Richard Gürtler (Aug 30, 2015, Bratislava, Slovakia)