STURMGEIST & THE FALL OF ROME
Avantgenre: Symphonic Noise
Official site: None
Review online since: 13.07.2015 / 03:08:42
For several years now Solefald's Cornelius has expressed his more German musical and cultural interests through his solo project Sturmgeist, playing industrial-tinged black metal with lyrics drawn from twentieth century historical themes. Cornelius recently joined forces with the Norwegian noise consort Noisestar & the Fall of Rome. The fruit of this collaboration is the appropriately named Kald Krig, or Cold War, a kind of symphonic noise that winds its way through a series of chilly, elegiac, occasionally epic themes (orchestral synthesizers and electronic pulses), pushed out into a sea of white noise and static, that rises and falls like a tide, sometimes supporting and at other times attacking the more melodic strains of the music. Cornelius anchors the sound with a strong, authoritative speaking voice that recites the lyrics with a very modulated and articulated clarity, often sounding like a lost radio broadcast calling out into deep space in the wake of societal collapse.
Like a lot of noise music, there is a certain sameness, but careful listening reveals how deceptive this apparent homogeneity is. There is actually a good deal of variety here. The melodic theme in the opener "Soler for vår tid - Åndsmenneske" is reminiscent of Angelo Badalamente's moodier soundtrack music, but run through a noise filter. Cornelius provides particularly forlorn vocals that rise with swelling frequencies that threaten to overtake the piece as it builds toward its powerful conclusion. The second piece "Anselm Kiefer 1965" is structured around low-frequency bass pulses that suggests an orchestra’s bass section—it is oddly monumental, reminding me of the vastly scaled paintings and sculptures created by the post-war German artist the song is named for. Next up is the especially melancholic "Søner av Anarkiet" which sounds almost like an organ fugue performed in the middle of a heavy construction site—the underlying melodic theme has the contemplative pacing of a later Ulver album and a winsome beauty that invites comparison to the noisy art-folk music of Finland’s Pavvoharju.
In "D-Dag - Berlin i Kosmopolis" the white noise dissipates for a while, replaced by what sounds like a ship’s foghorn blasting over the waves and a pounding snare drum. When the noise returns it’s even noisier, with high frequencies and a frenetic energy. In contrast, "Rienzi - Raseri - Vald" begins like an early Faust song, with an analog tape reel quality. Sad and funeral sounding at first, the song builds to a level of noise comparable to late, industrial era Faust. This brings us to the most violent track, "Einsamgangar". A vaguely martial, sharp-edged, more erratic piece, the track features what sounds like sustained electric guitar notes slathered in ridiculous amounts of delay and reverb, striking and then slowly decaying. The finale "Guds Flammer - Der Sturm" has a more alien vibe, with hints of Vangelis' Blade Runner score or Brian Eno's more out there work, with pretty swelling arpeggiated note clusters. It builds towards a swelling climax that can be read as epic uplift, but reminded me of the more lush and decadent moments in Giorgio Moroder’s Scarface soundtrack.
Without a handle on the Norwegian language, I'm left to the aesthetic, technical and emotional contours of the music without the benefit of fully grasping the lyrical content. But I believe the music speaks for itself, by turns expansive, empty, ethereal and heroic. Listening to it made me think of the ghosts of the past century commingling with the present world, of layers of ruins and of lost human life, of decaying factories and half-buried war machines, of the excavation of lost romantic-cum-barbarian ideals from under piles of bombed-out rubble. It feels like post-war Europe, like a half-empty Berlin and military checkpoints, of a tentative new order slowly crawling out of the ruins of a dead civilization, of culture struggling to reassert itself in a shattered world, fighting for air under the layers of ugliness and brutalist banality of the Cold War era. One might call this noise. I call it music.
01 - Soler For Vår Tid - Åndsmenneske
02 - Anselm Kiefer 1965
03 - Søner Av Anarkiet
04 - D-Dag - Berlin I Kosmopolis
05 - Rienzi - Raseri - Vald
06 - Einsamgangar
07 - Guds Flammer - Der Sturm