With the album name subtitled as ‘Visions Of Heaven Hell And Purgatory’ this is one of those pieces of music with a lot to dig beneath as far as the concept is concerned. It is kind of at odds with the actual music itself which is quite simplistic in nature. This project is the work of Phillipe Gerber who has apparently played more than 500 shows in the UK and Europe with his Heat From A Deadstar band who I have never heard of. I was drawn to this when asked to cover it due to the fact it is described as a work of many different styles such as darkwave, electronic and industrial. I have to admit as far as industrial is concerned this is not at all what I had in mind and the music is often far too light and mellow for what I would consider to be that style, so much so in fact that on repeated listens I have found myself drifting off into a daze and not even taking it all in. Not very helpful when it is something I have to review.
I could easily be here for weeks delving into that concept but all you really need to know before looking up biblical references is that this is based on Dante’s Divine Comedy. If you want more insight it is easy to find but let’s pass on and get to the music itself.
The 50 minute album is divided into nine tracks, some with two segmented titles but you can easily dismiss these too for review and listening purposes and take this all in as one long piece of ever flowing music. There are not any vocals as such but you will find spoken parts and samples drifting in and out of the musical ether. Things start in a gloomy ghost like way with ambient tones before the second part expands with Enigma like chants and drum beats akin to what you would expect from World Music. In fact with some Bootsy Collins etched funk lines this is the zone I am in now and it is obvious this is going to be a twisting and turning sort of listening affair. As mentioned there are long passages where I kind of lost myself to the flow, I guess shoe-gaze isn’t too far off the mark really as things really do get kind of mesmerising.
Listening again the Cold-Wave description does kind of work as although a lot of this is minimalist it does have a depressive feel to it, the fact it is freezing here also no doubt adds to the atmosphere as a dull dub laden drum sounds around jagged Indie sounding post rock guitar riffs. The music has at least now picked up and got me out of the slumbering earlier fog. This strikes as post rock that has taken influence from the likes of The Cure, New Order and even a bit of Bauhaus and it has its roots firmly stuck in the past. Best of all though is the very last segment as the musical jam has a certain astral quality and reminds me a fair bit of latter era Hawkwind. The main problem I find with it all though is that although it is sporadically interesting there is not enough definition to give me the wow factor I am looking for and to keep my interest levels up as high as I would like them to be.
It would seem that as John 3:16, Phillipe has already built up a fair amount of material and obviously has no shortage of ideas. I guess in a live setting with the right sort of atmosphere his sounds could be very interesting, especially with the right sort of visuals behind them but as this slowly, coldly moves towards the end I simply find myself drifting away again.
(6/10 Pete Woods)