Apparently this is the seventh release from Belgian collective Barst. I can’t say I know much about the first five but last album ‘The Western Lands’ went down a treat. Imaginative, experimental and with literary source going back to William S Burroughs it really enchanted and struck as an inspirational work. Now the artists behind it are back again and I am taking a bit more of a look into their background. They appear to be a group of musicians who are also from other acts such as Vonnis, Arise Fair Sun, Mathlovsky, Ovtrenoir and Rosetta. The latter two I have heard of and are certainly held in very high regard. It’s been just over a year since the last album and now they have gone and put together a sprawling opus that may or may not be just one long track. Yep it gets slightly confusing as it has been presented as just one 43 minute number but there are clear dividing lines within the music and the PR has provided a 7 track breakdown. The band also describe their work as a gesamtkunstwerk which meaning a total form of art which kind of fits in. Before I get tied up describing their Wahnsinnsmusik and concept more, tying myself up in knots as well as you reading it, it is probably best to just describe the sound of what we are listening to here.
Sound waves gradually form without any particular rush with keyboards gently pulsating and some low sonic percussive frequencies that throb neatly through my speakers in a way that most music I listen to wouldn’t reach. There are some low harmonic vocals, too quietly to properly hear but it sounds like the lady behind them is repeating “space, light” which even if I am incorrect about makes perfect sense to me. The throbbing sounds repetitive nature has elements within it of both Krautrock and trance but simple genre-classification was never going to be easy here. I guess as the low frequencies hit there are also elements of dark dub and ambience too and as it builds in pitch and thick bass tones bring the melody to the front, the post rock brigade are going to be seizing upon this too. Suddenly things get quite bruising with the build-up of guitars and I can definitely hear the sound of what captured my senses on the last album. Mission control formulates over some keyboard tweaking that reminds me naturally of Hawkwind and we flurry into a veritable Space Chase as the pitch builds and takes off on a galactic mission; yep there’s some definite space rock to add to the mix too. Vocals get shriller, definitely still in the background but the power behind them is evident, from a distance as they try to bust though the thick bass tones I am reminded a fair bit of Hanin Elias of Atari Teenage Riot.
There’s a fairly hefty pause at the half way mark and one that is definitely a turn the vinyl over moment for those of us who appreciate music the way it is meant to be heard. The shivery melody that we are rewarded by on doing so is both gorgeous and aridly expansive, coasting on like a bird swooping over far distant lands and taking in all the rich sight and sounds of life below them. Now we get some rafter raising male vocals behind sonic waves and they combine excellently with the music adding to the power, drama and atmosphere perfectly. The players are on a tight groove now, making it all sound so natural and work like a well-oiled machine whilst jamming away. They prove that they would have had no problem pulling this off as a purely instrumental exercise but there’s no denying the vocals have added plenty to the whole mind-set; they have gone now and it is left to the rugged furrow and muscular power of the guitars and bass to bring us hypnotically to a hefty, dense and utterly compelling conclusion to this particular section. Tribal rhythms lead into the next, chants form again and there is now a world music aspect to it all along with throbbing ominous feel that a storm cloud is gathering force. Mystery is at the heart of this and it is all fascinating, rich in filmic style which I noted on the last album too. Eventually it all has to be tied up but we get one last Barst before it does; frankly I could have happily listened to this at double the length. Don’t take my word for it though; transport yourself into another world via the link below
(8/10 Pete Woods)