Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Elegi - Sistereis (2007)

Sistereis - the final voyage of a ship before it sinks. Standing as the first piece in a trilogy, Sistereis came about through Tommy Jansen's love of wreck-diving. Suitably, the material here is thick dark ambiance full of neoclassical elements, droning currents, and eerie samples, some of which came from recordings of Jansen's own explorations underwater.

The three "FyrtÆrnet" parts are definitely the highlights of the album, each dense with subsonic cello rumbling, unsettling samples, the questing search of violins amongst synth eddies, all drowned in a haze of decaying particles and mementos. The sound is very evocative and easily suffuses the imagination, turning the static behind closed eyelids into a shifting, floating world. Other parts, such as "Despotiets Vesen" and "Time Lapse," take a moment for reflection as bright piano carries out over creaking timbers and discomfiting samples - voices, the small actions of hands and feet, gnawing. Sistereis is a ponderous world, skeletal moments left forgotten centuries ago. Interestingly enough, it makes me think of a combination of the moods from Lunar Aurora's Andacht and Bioshock.

That isn't to say that this is a perfect album - some tracks just didn't suck me in as much. "Dauingene" lacks the abyssopelagic gloom running through the other tracks, featuring synths that are slightly too loud and clear to create much atmosphere. The moderately improvised sound and free-form nature of the instruments, while well structured and put together, nevertheless proves to be a distraction at times. This is perhaps best noticeable on "Spill for Galleriet," a pleasant track that is a little too spontaneous for its own good, ultimately losing the cohesive focus seen in other songs as randonimity separates the instruments from each other. A deconstruction fitting, perhaps, for the death of a ship, but not the best of his work.

Although it has its faults and rough spots, Sistereis is still a beautiful album and one of the more interesting dark ambient works that I've heard in a while, and an excellent introduction to Elegi.

Verdict: Win [7.5/10]


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