Back in May I received no less than three albums by Frozen Ocean and they took me on a hell of a varied journey, each of them being quite different musically and in tone and mood. I said at the time that I did not expect it to be too long before I heard from Vaarwel the artist behind this Russian project again and sure enough ‘a Perfect Solitude’ recently landed. Of course, I again was not sure what to expect from this musically but at first my eyes were transfixed by the fantastic cover art and questions started buzzing round my head. The solitude is certainly served up by the illustration, it is bleak and bereft. So too however is the dread and I am reminded a bit of the somewhat grim and ghastly cover to 2004 album ‘The Black House’ by Krieg. What manner of monster dwells in this shack and what terrible crimes have they committed; my imagination was running wild. It is worth mentioning that if you check out the website linked below you will find some wallpaper to accompany this artwork too.
Apparently this is a very personal album and one that confronts the fear of being alone, not just in living but in dying too and it is one that I am sure we have all spent time reflecting on.
We enter this barren void through the ‘Broken Window’ it is a window long since shattered and one that lies in disrepair if the maudlin sparse guitar tone is anything to go by. Wind and rain fill the gaps as the intro piece flows into ‘Somewhere Clouds Debark.’ Lush sparkling keyboard sets up a structure and guitars bit in with quite a gothic sound that is not a million miles from Fields Of The Nephilim at their most ponderous. I was almost expecting this to be completely instrumental but somewhat despondent vocals mournfully join in. The vocals work well as far as the subject matter is concerned as they are so emotionless, they are there and monotone and it is a weird way of delivering them although I suspect purposeful. There is a bit of Tiamat behind it all and little in the way of hope. From here on in the next few tracks leave the vocals completely alone. ‘A Sunflower On The Prison Backyard’ is gorgeous and epic at 13 minutes, prepare to be entranced. Ambiance builds as does the lush tinkle of what sounds like a xylophone being ever so gently tapped. There is a real spatial feel to this, lots of room to breathe and the music quietly sparkles. Fuzzy drone, doom etched guitars suddenly hammer in, still very slow but incredibly heavy and it brings with it a contrasting claustrophobia. It’s best to settle back and go with the flow. It all evolves as the next track ‘Mare Imbrium’ follows. It is like the musical equivalent of star gazing and the glittery, winking keyboard sounds are like the stars glistening in the cold night frost. The actual track title refers to a large moon crater so we are perhaps looking towards earth from there, although it is doubtful it has hosted life for countless aeons. Still you cannot get a place that offers much more solitude than this. This follows on nicely from the space watching sounds of ‘Oneiric In Geocentricism’ and really is music that has a feel of an astronomer watching the skies.
After this ‘Unavailing Steps on Perpetual’ brings a sudden burst of melody and more vocals this time with more harmony about them. I am reminded a bit of a mix of Hawkwind and Falkenbach here it has a psychedelic galloping tinge about it and really stands out as a structured number compared to what has come before it. The fact it is quite joyous is a surprise too, perhaps the muse has become at one with their solitude. It is left for the strangely entitled ‘Cleavage and Emission’ another instrumental to finish the album. I hear sirens in it and quite every time think they are outside my window, a natural occurrence. Is this perhaps the return to normality and the urban sprawl, or is it the sounds of life flashing through your head before life is extinguished. The last sound you hear is a machine going flat line, so I think perhaps so. This again has been another fascinating journey into the mind of Vaarwel.
It looks like it will not be too long before we hear again either as Vannviddsanger the second part of his conceptual Norse trilogy is apparently next.
(7.5 / 10 Pete Woods)