Neoclassical

Dies Natalis – The Bright And The Pure

Released in 2004 the 30 minute LP The Bright And The Pure is the gem of Dies Natalis discography.

The Bright And The Pure is not essentially just a simple neofolk album, it has a lot of neoclassical and cinematic hues. The starting three headed beast Near Heaven / The Bright And The Pure / The Fortress is a joyous glimpse of a 70s psychedelic western film that never existed. This trinity is tight with atmosphere and lo-fi-massive and organic with mystic compositions. I can’t help thinking The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

Three following tracks are sung neoclassical / neofolk that retain the cinematic mysticism. Really far from regular neofolk really. The atmosphere is unlike earlier or later in Dies Natalis discography. Occitanias Knights is the least impressive of these 3 tracks but the intro builds tension wonderfully with deep ambience and acoustic guitar. Later on the march drums keep the weirdly bumpy verse on the bright side.

Rich female vocals are an essential texture to the release. La Complainte Pour Esclarmonde De Foix a French art film track (!) highlights the vocals and woodwind instruments while gently overpeaking. Perhaps it is just my copy that does it, but I do love some gentle overpeaking!

My hate relationship with the 7th track The Upward Spiral turned to a friendship yet ultimately it is on a wrong release. Nihilistically symphatetic lyrics on a bright, major key composition are a nice paradox but thematically it does not really fit on The Bright and the Pure. It is like a disjointed Ben Stiller film scene in an art film.

The Upward Spiral is musically very close to other releases by Dies Natalis. Their earlier releases suffer from accented German vocals which aren’t that well sung either. A lot of great Neofolk is not that well sung though, so the dislike of German lyrics and accent may be my personal problem. Dies Natalis did correct that to their later album The Phoenix Contradiction (2008) but compositions are a lot more straightforward and acoustic guitar driven than on The Bright And The Pure. This may be a positive or a negative feat, depending on the listener and the mood!

The final track, another cinematic trinity, Near Heaven II / The Bright And The Beast / The Stake, shifts from ambient to finale after halfway mark and resembles the title track of the album. It grows in tension until suddenly ends. Actually it sounds like a duality, unlike the first track that has clearly three different sides. Be it a duality, trinity or a quadruplicity, the finale really weaves the release together.

The Bright And The Pure might be a bit difficult album to get into and even more difficult to find these days, yet it has continued to grow in our over 10 year old relationship. Very much recommended for seekers of strange neofolk and neoclassical who are not afraid of a dose of lo-fi.

9/10

Venetian Snares Modern Classical Breakcore collection

Venetian Snares is Canadian Breakcore artist Aaron Funk who has released quite a few albums. This collection is based on the best bits of his modern classical works. At 53 minutes I had to leave a couple of songs out but I feel shorter length serves this kind of orchestral electronic clattering better.

Unlike many albums this collection does not go all in in the beginning, but is meant to collect steam along the way and in my opinion the last 4 tracks Room 379, Integraation, Senki Dala and Miss Balaton conclude as one of the strongest endings in the history of electronic music. I am humble, I know; but in actuality the strongness of the two whole tracks Integraation and Miss Balaton is to blame. That is not to say the beginning is weak,  I love Frictional Nevada but its end chaos is a bit annoying.

What really brought Venetian Snares into my regular playing cycle is these tracks; the way he mixes complex electronic music with organic sounding classical orchestrations. Among his other albums Venetian Snares has released two full modern classical electronic breakcore albums Rossz Csillag Alatt Született (2005) and My Downfall (Original Soundtrack) (2007). This collection is based around those two albums which have many of his best works.

After these albums Aaron Funk incorporated modern classical as a more subtle part of his style, a track may not necessarily be a modern classical track or something else. One can only stand so much classical violin squeaking which is why bunch of tracks having other elements along with the classical have been included in this collection (from albums Hospitality (2006), Detrimentalist (2008), My-so-called-life (2010), My Love Is A Bulldozer (2014)).

I wanted to include Hajnal and Kétsarkú Mozgalom from Rossz Csillag Alatt Született too but for the sake of big picture, I had to turn them off.

Alex Tiuniaev – Treedreams

Surprisingly grand for a wee EP

Ever since I’ve been a kid I’ve been exposed to sequencer, synthesizer and ambient music from the likes of Klaus Schulze, Mike Oldfield, Jean-Michel Jarre etc. Even though they are undoubtedly geniuses, revolutinees of the music field and whatnot, I have never became very close to their music, though I have always kind of liked them. Still, Im sure this exposion has left some mark. Often things you’ve listened as a kid hit you hard later on and I think I finally found my first knack of sequencer-type music on Alex Tiuniaev.

Alex Tiuniaev is an ambient and piano composer from Russia. His EP Treedreams is a small piano driven release consisting of two tracks, both freely downloadable from last.fm. Small does not necessary mean simple, and minimalistic doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a lot of textures. Alex Tiuniaev’s work reminds me subconsciously of Klaus Schulze’s sequencer outputs (which of them, I cannot say). 

Treedreams I consists of a rhythmic melody circling around a rhythmic beat. Treedreams II:n has a similar beat present but it is more piano driven, than sequencer driven.Of these two Treedreams I is the simpler and clearly more memorable having a great catchy melodyline which took a few listens to materialize to its full potential. Treedreams II is a fine closer having more variation and more ambient. However for me Treedreams EP is not complete without a track from Alex Tiuniaev’s newest album Blurred. Another free last.fm download “The Wild Winds Weep” can be cleverly bootlegged to serve as a brilliant intro to Treedreams. The Wild Winds Weep is my latest random find; a full on goosebump effect in the middle of a walk.

While I have only listened Blurred once I can say it does have lots of potential, especially the cinematic “We Were All Fishes Once” caught me unaware on first listen. I cannot fully express why, but somehow Alex Tiuniaev’s music is extremely likable. If Treedreams or any of the synthesizer-artist-household-names-above make any impression to you Treedreams is, and free-to-listen Blurred may very well be, a shimmering find.

Overall score (modified EP): 8-/10

Download Treedreams for free here: http://www.last.fm/music/Alex+Tiuniaev/Treedreams+EP