Props must be given to German group (Dolch) for managing to keep up an air of mystery in an Internet age. I still haven’t a clue of the name of the artists although they have come out the woodwork a little to perform live, most recently with The Ruins Of Beverast. This showed us that their singer was involved in backing vocals of their excellent last album Exuvia but there is still very little info available about them. III is similarly confusing. Their first release came on disc and combined I and II but here we have a standalone numerological release. It is subtitled as ‘Songs of Happiness, Words of Praise’ but is it an album, an EP or a demo? I certainly wouldn’t class it as a full album but who knows?

Firstly what we get is a little on the odd side. There’s an introductory speech telling us what we are about to ahem receive, a musical intro and a bit of backward masking for track six that we have been informed we will only make sense of if playing on vinyl. Ok, all rather random. Luckily we have 4 proper songs to go with this. The first ‘The River’ slowly babbles at source. Fuzzy rumblings and whispers drop into a more tumultuous flow and we are hypnotically picked up and carried adrift. Melody is strong and those vocals build and totally entrance, nameless maybe but the vocalist has a really gorgeous voice, perhaps at odds with the dense music flow and trembling bass heavy production here. Coming back to this after seeing them live a while ago it is an instantly memorable number and you will find yourself humming along after a couple of listens as it is firmly lodged in the brain. A Teutonic symphony lingers as it fades out in morbid classical fugue adding to the already heady atmosphere. Next we head to ‘Siren’ which focuses more on slow drumbeat and vocals at first before a male chorus joins in with the other instruments in a funereal kind of lament. Releasing musical serotonin we have ‘Hydroxytryptamine Baby (Part I)’ a narcotic fug of doom laden depressiveness if ever I have heard one. The final track ‘100 000 Days’ feels like it goes on for that length. Again it goes for a torturously slow approach with the vocals lingering behind the real fuzz laden instrumentation, I could do with them a bit more distinct in the mix as they are totally beguiling and I want more insight into what they are saying; something I appreciate the band are probably as mysterious as about as everything else. These go into complete obscurity around the 7 minute mark and it is left for the instruments to dully repeat for another 11, yep you are right in thinking that this does become all rather stale after a while.

The recording of this really did not work for me perhaps that is due to the way I received it on MP3 files and I would hope it is a lot easier to penetrate on a decent stereo rather than via PC. Although there are some good ideas here they just don’t seem to be projected fully compared to the first two demos and what the group are capable of live and the whole exercise has been a little frustrating. I can only reflect that overall in the mark. I Think (Dolch) are on the verge of something quite wonderful but this is unfortunately a quite a step back overall.

(6/10 Pete Woods)