Monday, August 15, 2016

Neolunar - Neolunar (2016)

Neolunar is yet another solo project from mastermind Tamás Kátai, the man behind Thy Catafalque (and by the looks of it, he has a lot of time on his hands as of late) as well as his namesake project (I reviewed the latest album, Slower Structures just a couple of posts down from this one if you're curious.) Like much of Kátai's work, Neolunar doesn't resemble anything from Thy Catafalque (no black metal bits) or the namesake (no visual novel friendly soundscapes.) Instead, we get something completely different, yet still worth our ears. Ironically, the performance here seems to flow more with my “robot” ears than my “metal” ones and equals out to something that I could only describe as a little bit John Carpenter, a little bit spatial and possibly even a bit Goth/darkwave with a dash of folk. Kátai has a surprisingly dark voice, which I'm almost comparing a little to Oscar Herrera of Black Tape For A Blue Girl. The material here seems to communicate a cyberpunk landscape with neon colors and electric lights and I'd highly recommend it to fans of the synthwave or retro-wave movement that is becoming increasingly popular for some unknown reason with many metalheads, as well as myself. There are even small bits of guitar influence on the record aside from the crystalline synths that the listener will experience, showing once again that Kátai is influenced by an immense amount of music and seems to reflect those influences quite well in this, as well as in his other respective projects. Keep in mind that acts like Pertubator and Gost are being thrown around quite a bit these days, and even John Carpenter himself has been known to perform in shows that mostly feature metal acts. Some odd metamorphosis is happening to the genre and I'm still not sure what it is.

As far as vocals are concerned, not all of them work for me. But that's the only real negative critique I have for a piece that is so instrumentally sound as this one. As we can expect, there isn't just one tone or variety of music, as the ferocious saxophone work of David-John Baptiste and Cat Purchase showcases. We also get a little bit of violin from Dimitris Papageorgiou, which decorates the album a little when it is utilized. I'd also say that there's definitely a mid-era Ulver influence in “A város/The City” as well as a bit of post-rock flair (think Killing Joke) in “Haar.” Though the interesting thing about Neolunar is in it's almost folk-like vocal composition, which is decidedly different from anything we might have expected from this kind of music. I'm actually getting slight vocal references to another Ulver album here, an early release by the name of Kveldssanger (1996) which as you also might expect, is a bit of an odd fit with the bubbly electronic compositions that make up this recording. As I said, it doesn't always work; but Neolunar is a such a strong project on it's own that vocal sections aren't even truly necessary, let alone worth complaint. As with much of Kátai's work as of late, Neolunar seems built upon atmopshere and that is what this record offers. It's not comparable to anything that I've heard from Thy Catafalque (some parts are just far more dance influenced than anything they'd release) nor the namesake (it's not nearly as quiet, and a little more jazzy) and stands on it's own as yet another solid project. The cover art for the disc is a little peculiar, (it features what appears to be a woman on a bus at the subway station, along with some mist) but when the record itself is described as “music for the city, the night, the sleep” then I think that this kind of obscure artwork really seems to capture that experience best. I'm going to bring up mid-era Ulver one more time here, as Neolunar almost feels like a spritual successor to Perdition City (2000) albeit with a bit of a different direction taken. It's not quite as dark as the former and even seems to capture what might be some of the brighter moments within the concrete jungle that we humans have collectively forged together to call a home. I suppose many ages from now (or perhaps a bit sooner, judging from current events) when the human race has extinguished the last of it's flame, another species from far out in the galaxy might be able to visualize the lights and stone boxes in which we lived, merely by the playing of this circular disc. I do believe that there will be several other circular discs that they'll discover as well as several other media items of varying importance, but at least it shows that we were quite an inventive lot. It's quite interesting to note that we were one of the few species (at least to our knowledge) to record our experiences in the form of circular discs, possibly preserving them for countless ages to come. Neolunar is one such experience that seems to capture the city in all of it's night-time essence.

(10 Tracks, 41:00)


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