Aelter - Dusk-Dawn/Follow You Beloved [Crucial Blast - 2011]Aelter are a Idaho based project who create a very hypnotic, bleak yet often darkly dreamy mixture of analogue synth scaping, droney yet mainly mellow & stripped doom, stark acoustic guitars, and brief dips in dark wave/ shoe gazing male/female vocalizing. This double cd release brings together the projects first two out of print vinyl only album releases.
The two discs come in a simply yet effective fold-out double digipak, it features a lo-key black with red border cover that features on it’s front a gravestone like picture of a women’s face. When you open the digipak up you get this great picture of a brooding cloud & desert( or beach) landscape with a solitary figure in the middle of it disappearing off into the distant- this images perfectly captures the great bleak & blacken beauty of the projects sound.
The first cd is taken up by “Dusk-Dawn”, which was originally released in 2009 on the bands own lable Wolvserpent records in an edition of 300 hand numbered & screen printed copies. The first track on offer on this disc is entitled “Dusk”, which comes in at the 16.15 mark. The track starts with a wonderful bleak 'n' stark acoustic guitar playing out a dusty ‘n’ doomy slightly country twanged riff. As the track moves onto it’s second minute a clean electric guitar layer is added, then pretty soon the doom element appears in the form of a subtle yet deadly distorted guitar layer. As the track progresses on a little more we get added in a shimmering & chilling analogue synth/ organ tone which sound like Popol Vul at half speed, and wavering/ gothic melting male vocalising. These elements drift in & out for most of the tracks length, with the original stark acoustic guitar & clean electric guitar keeping it presences known through-out. Only in the last two or so minute does the track drift down into this shimmering & doomed 70’s synth like wash of sound, and this summons up such a mournful yet restful feeling… one can almost picture a floating funeral pyre slowly drifting out into a cold & grey lake- the landscape is all black & white, except for the slow billowing & ebb of the funnel pyres flames
The second & last track on disc one is entitled “Dawn”, and this comes in at just over the fifteen & a half minute mark. The track starts with a slow ‘n’ simmering synth procession that sounds half church organ & half 80’s gothic dark synth plod. Pretty soon drifting & raising male harmonies are added to the track, along with slightly country twanged dark guitar textures, and slowly bobbing ‘n’ waltzing percussive shimmers. This part of the track makes one feels like there literal drifting & ebbing on a dreamy mass of grey light or misty, in a most sombre yet warming manner. At around the five minute mark the trackis striping’s down to just sombre male ‘ahhs’ before the slightly distorted doom guitar slides in & the funeral synth bleak wishful drift starts up once more. Around the 8th minute a layer of soft male or possible female vocals are added into the track, and it nicely builds up depth & power, but just when you think it’s going to build to crescendo the track is stripped down to just stark guitar riffing before pausing for a moment, & then a simple yet beautiful grim paino comes in following a few basic note repetition, and this is ebbed by just a subtle synth line that just nudgers it’s edges.
The second disc is taken up by “Aelter II: Follow You Beloved” which was originally released in 2010 once again by Wolvserpent records in an edition of 85 copies. This release also features just two lenghty tracks, & first of these is “Beloved” which comes in at the 20.26 mark. This track opens with a slow growing wash of sombre synth drone that’s pitted with mournful drops of vibe like electronics, and fairly soon more subtle layers of synth texture, clean guitar shimmer are added into the mix….and just when you think it’s going to take off into more building pace the track cuts-out. Then shortly a slow warbling bass guitar line comes in, along with a doomy electric country guitar riff. Pretty soon these are joined by soaring yet mournful male vocalising, a slow beat & buried female shoe gazing vocals- it sounds like a wonderful cross breed between later day Earth like doomed twanging Americana & mournful 4AD like dreamy goth/ shoegazing drift. As the track goes on it cuts back to just simple twanging doomed bass & guitar weaves, that are sometimes sweeped by lush yet mournful synth sweeps 'n' pipes, or at other times left stark & dustily atmospheric. And then once again around the 12 minute mark the dreamy shoegazing vocals seep back in once more, and later on a another more roaring ‘n’ baying yet atmospheric distorted doom guitar kicks in over the swinging & sombre yet dusty track. Simply spellbinding stuff.
So next we’re onto to the last track of the album, and this release “Follow You”- this comes just under the 18 minute 'n' 30 mark. This track starts out with a mixture of twanging slightly Mexican tinged country guitar that has echo & warbling bass guitar around it, these are gloomily embellished ever so often by slow sombre organ & synth patterns- for some reason these synth & organ textures really remind me of Bohren & der Club of Gore masterpiece “Black Earth” though of course there’s no doom jazz present here. By the 5th minute a slow ‘n’ sweeping doom guitar is added to the mix, and in my mind I can see a desert grave yard slowly coming to life, with bedraggled & rotting gunslingers crawling their way out of the ground. The doom guitar element stay in place for a few mintue more,and just when you think things are going to kick up into high & heavy doom the track is stripped down to a raising yet gloomy mix of dark choir like harmonies, which have neat spaghetti western like slow bell tolling playing though first one stereo channel, then the other. The semi distorted guitar finally re-appears again nearing the 11th minute in a marching & slow gothic trudge, and this is added to by a rising church organ, plus swirling & mumble ghostly female shoegazing vocals.
One of the many joys of reviewing music & sound is when you come across a project you’ve never heard before, and their release knocks you off your feet with it’s original sound & vision, and that’s exactly what this double disc set has done. Put simply Aelter conjure up a dark, dreamy & bleak sound that doesn’t really fit in one genre or musical pigeon hole, and to top it all this release is near on faultless in it’s excution, vision & vibe. I really cant recommend this release highly enough….truly unmissble stuff.Roger Batty