Spring is very much in the air on this split album. We are greeted by an idyllic Swiss looking field in bloom on the cover which is in the form of an interesting green tracing paper design and inside there are scenes of traditional women who would not look out of place on Heidi or for that matter the cover of Burzum’s Filosofem. Again I am dipping back into the past for this retrospective review of a disc that was originally released in 2011 on a very limited edition of 78.
Russian act Divinum Opus Sedare Dolorem are completely new to me so I was intrigued to hear how they would fit together with Frozen Ocean. There is not a huge amount of information that I can find about them but it appears they do have a couple of other releases out there prior to this one. Their half of this 70 minute split album starts in a dreamy fashion with a very long number ‘Bury Me Under That Sky’ and it suits the title as you could sense cloud watching as this drifts on by. Perhaps this could take place in that very field on the album cover and one can see why the label chose the image as it works with the music very well. I am reminded a little here of Varg’s ambient works, there is a sense of reminiscence and even yearning about this and it is also quite maudlin and reflective. It’s a long repetitive and mesmerising number; that said it’s quite gorgeous with it. Gentle synth takes over as we move from there into Arctic Waters Coma and one gets the feeling and image of a submarine on the surface coasting over a never-ending glacial frozen landscape. To say this was chilled would not just be a bad attempt at a pun. Things chime in a bit and with the gentle synth waves it’s like sonar; I can practically hear the sound of whales hidden in the depths too. With another couple of ambient dreamscapes to go with these DOSD prove another interesting and curious Russian act, one with a certain amount of obscurity about them too. The tracks from this and more can be heard at the following link
I can hardly say I am back on familiar ground with Frozen Ocean as composer Vaarwel keeps us on our toes and we never know what to expect from his releases. I noted that all the six tracks here had quite descriptive one word titles. We start with ‘Downstairs’ with drips, footsteps and the creak of a door. We are in a horror film or maybe even a game soundtrack here. The killer is stalking his prey, she will be found and suffer a horrifying demise; creepy and devoid of hope are the key words here. You can forget all about the cover art here unless perhaps one thinks of the Swiss countryside being turned into the hell of Dario Argento’s Phenomena! The air of futile despair continues on ‘Anaemia,’ sparse keys and a sound of running machinery take back to the recently reviewed Steamworks. The horror vibe makes me think of Freddy Kruger’s boiler room, not a nice place to find yourself in. ‘Aer’ is the sound of the demon in The Evil Dead racing through the woods, well that’s how I translate it. Something sinister has come through the portal, shat out of the bowels of hell in search of souls. You certainly don’t want to be in its path. Quieter strains meet ‘Asthma’ what sounds like an iron lung perhaps makes sounds as well as that of hefty breath. It is like being in a room with machinery keeping an emaciated person alive, but who would want to live like that. I am left wondering if the musician perhaps took inspiration from the Spanish film ‘In A Glass Cage’ here. The mere title of ‘Stalingrad’ is enough to envisage another hell. An almost Arctic chill submerges in a white landscape bereft and deserted of all but the frozen corpses of the dead. Both sides are united in this hell there are no victors here. Finally we are at last track ‘Wormwood’ a title that is sure to have the imagination running wild and drunk on Absinth fumes. It’s a louder conclusion and a futuristic sounding one. I find myself in a science fiction frame of mind now, perhaps an Italian post-apocalypse movie where a city would rise from the desert and look fantastic (if only the budget would allow it to). It’s a bit of a Tangerine Dream, Kraut rock feel about this and again Frozen Ocean have made an incredibly visual piece of music that have made my imagination work overtime.
Next week they take us to an even more hellish place so pop back then to read about that.
(Both Bands 7.5/10 Pete Woods )