Strom Noir "Urban Blues" CD
Slovak guitar drone wizard Emil Maťko, acting under Strom Noir, was quite silent during 2013, but with "Urban Blues" demo in his hands, which was recorded already in 2012 (between February and November), it was just a question of time before it will end up in the right hands. And all this happened during the last months of 2013, when Polish label Zoharum signed Strom Noir for the release of "Urban Blues" album. The dream came true at the end of January, 2014, when "Urban Blues" was released in limited edition of 300 copies and packaged in catchy matte finish 6-panel disc eco wallet (with cover photos and design by Wiktor Jackowski, mastering by Michal Ilia). And on the top of all these facts, I can easily count all Slovak ambient soundscapers on the fingers of one hand, so the more I was excited about this release by my fellow countryman.
Poetically entitled "Maľovanie Dúhy", which means "Painting The Rainbow" in Slovak, opens the album with serenely meandering texture, where damp hissy blankets are hanging above, while gently shimmering string vagueness, carving strongly mesmerizing images, intertwines with more pinnacling acoustic filigrees. It's a very nice, soothing intro!!! "Night Blooming" calmly moves into slightly more massive dimension, although deeply evocative string expressions in the middle soften the overall feel. Toward the end the track again shifts into tenser paths. Elusive glitches amble circuitously across this hauntingly nostalgic composition. "Zavtra" can be translated as "Tomorrow", and it's taken, according to Emil, from a Rusyn language. It immediately dives into expanding terrains of continuously towering drones. Mindscaping dissonances permeate masterfully throughout as well and steadily culminate with all power and sternness. Wow, this is a pure, 9 minutes long, drone magic, a possible magnum opus by Strom Noir!!! More please!!! "Textures" quickly return to relatively relieving zones, sculpted with crystalline acoustics, assorted urban rumbles and squeaks and organic flavorings. But emerging rawer drone layers and noisier string desolations add a brand new kaleidoscope of tensions and sceneries. Texturally lush and stirringly captivating composition, undoubtedly another lofty pinnacle of this album!!! The title track "Urban Blues" is invaded by bulky stock of drones, where thick reverberations are coupled with mesmerizingly undulating choir-like circles. All accompanied by glimmering glitches, while cacophony of urban noises slowly rises from the haze and piercingly steals the center stage to deliver absolutely unforgettable listening delight. No wonder this is the flagship of this album. What to add, this is simply phenomenal, I think Strom Noir has never sounded better!!! The next piece, "All Summer In A Day", starts with rather monotonous drone, but assorted click-clacks freshly color the texture along with spellbindingly rotating semi-melodious fragments. A strongly cinematic and introspective composition!!! Beautifully entitled "V Ohni So Mnou Poď", or "Come With Me In The Fire", paints magnificently circling solitudes, where rougher tensities stunningly intermingle with poignant nostalgia. The texture exquisitely crescendoes in its spectacular deepness and monstrousness and safely reaches utterly ear-splitting gloriousness. Another sonic monument by Strom Noir!!! "All Souls (Will Be Born Again)" is more comforting, even if the static drone hum is quite monolithic. Hissy embellishments and hypnotic oscillations do the rest of the work. A gorgeously immense outro!!!
I think it's more than evident for all those who are journeying with Strom Noir, this is undoubtedly the most sophisticated album by this Slovak drone sculptor. A truly intriguing, mind-bending and victorious guitar drone work, transporting each listener to the frontier of stringed drone virtuosity. That's "Urban Blues" in a nutshell and I am really proud of Strom Noir!!! Klobúk dole, hats off!!!
Richard Gürtler (Mar 23, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)