Cryptic Romance - Remembrance
Darkwave, Dark Electro This is the debut album from the latest project of Vanson Sichelstein, a Czech musician probably best known to readers of this site as the creator of Warsickle. Maybe that means something to some of you, but all I know is that I don't hear much music from this particular country, and I'm always keen to search out new creative territories. None of this means anything, of course, if the project can't bring some decent music to the scene.

And I have to admit, on first listen, I'm pretty sure I've heard something like this before. Chris Pohl, he of Blutengel fame is openly stated as an influence, along with the 'Mode (not again?) and Rabia Sorda (not totally misleading), but despite the obvious temptation, I'm not sure Blutengel is the best comparison. It's more reminiscent of Seelenkrank, the pre-Blutengel Pohl Project, before the vampiric atmospheres were seduced with female voices and other poppy influences. This also means the project sounds dated, but that isn't always a bad thing. 90's style darkwave still has an appeal to some of us (did you read my Bella Morte review of The Best Of Bella Morte (1996-2012)?).

So what we have here is melodic minor key arps, mid-tempo drum beats, solid basslines and the harsh vocal style adopted by (at least) half of the worlds industrial musicians. And Cryptic Romances take on the style is certainly pleasing to the ear on initial impression. Unfortunately, after a few songs, it becomes clear that it's not particularly musically advanced either. Too many one- and two-note sequences, little experimentation with rhythmic structure and no "how did they do that?" moments. Having read Wolf's review of the new Warsickle, I'm thinking presets are called upon rather too often.

This doesn't make the album bad, just average. And three highlights do stand out. "Something" is the most obvious DJ choice - upbeat with a melodic hook that really develops over the course of the song. "You Cant" utilises plaintive cries in place of the usual vocal gravel, reminding me of various tracks by The Eternal Afflict. And for the Pohl fanatics amongst you, "Moondance" makes the best job of melding together arcing string ups, funereal atmospheres and e-piano melodies into a dark dance delight.

Elsewhere, things are rather more ordinary. Three instrumentals tracks (the first, fourth and final tracks) give the album structure but aren't especially elaborate recordings heard on their own. The same can be said of songs like "Heart Of Hurricane" and "Hano!", which are essentially competent compositions lacking any real artistic impression, just sort of pulsing along, doing their thing. I've used the term 'landfill synthpop' on here before - please don't make me invent 'landfill darkwave'.

On the other hand, maybe Vanson is better off not mucking around with the formula too much. Two tracks in the later stages of the album show an experimental tendency that isn't quite hitting the mark. "Schizofreniak" is what it says it as, a stop-start assembly of musical ideas that sound attractive enough on their own but amount to less than the sum of their parts on the recording. "V hlubinì èerného lesa" utilised a guest synthline from Necrocock (who?), but they fail to nail the 'quiet bit into loud bit' transition with any real style. It's a common error, sure, but I've never liked songs that come and go as they please. The secret to successful songwriting is getting stuff like this to hang together.

In conclusion then, it's a reasonable enough deviation from Warsickle, but I don't feel like I've been treated to anything special, either. So, yes, worth a try once, and some good songs emerged as a result, but I'm not convinced there's much more creative potential in the concepts chosen here. Herr Pohl and his clan of vampric followers sucked it dry years ago.
3
Brutal Resonance

Cryptic Romance - Remembrance

This is the debut album from the latest project of Vanson Sichelstein, a Czech musician probably best known to readers of this site as the creator of Warsickle. Maybe that means something to some of you, but all I know is that I don't hear much music from this particular country, and I'm always keen to search out new creative territories. None of this means anything, of course, if the project can't bring some decent music to the scene.

And I have to admit, on first listen, I'm pretty sure I've heard something like this before. Chris Pohl, he of Blutengel fame is openly stated as an influence, along with the 'Mode (not again?) and Rabia Sorda (not totally misleading), but despite the obvious temptation, I'm not sure Blutengel is the best comparison. It's more reminiscent of Seelenkrank, the pre-Blutengel Pohl Project, before the vampiric atmospheres were seduced with female voices and other poppy influences. This also means the project sounds dated, but that isn't always a bad thing. 90's style darkwave still has an appeal to some of us (did you read my Bella Morte review of The Best Of Bella Morte (1996-2012)?).

So what we have here is melodic minor key arps, mid-tempo drum beats, solid basslines and the harsh vocal style adopted by (at least) half of the worlds industrial musicians. And Cryptic Romances take on the style is certainly pleasing to the ear on initial impression. Unfortunately, after a few songs, it becomes clear that it's not particularly musically advanced either. Too many one- and two-note sequences, little experimentation with rhythmic structure and no "how did they do that?" moments. Having read Wolf's review of the new Warsickle, I'm thinking presets are called upon rather too often.

This doesn't make the album bad, just average. And three highlights do stand out. "Something" is the most obvious DJ choice - upbeat with a melodic hook that really develops over the course of the song. "You Cant" utilises plaintive cries in place of the usual vocal gravel, reminding me of various tracks by The Eternal Afflict. And for the Pohl fanatics amongst you, "Moondance" makes the best job of melding together arcing string ups, funereal atmospheres and e-piano melodies into a dark dance delight.

Elsewhere, things are rather more ordinary. Three instrumentals tracks (the first, fourth and final tracks) give the album structure but aren't especially elaborate recordings heard on their own. The same can be said of songs like "Heart Of Hurricane" and "Hano!", which are essentially competent compositions lacking any real artistic impression, just sort of pulsing along, doing their thing. I've used the term 'landfill synthpop' on here before - please don't make me invent 'landfill darkwave'.

On the other hand, maybe Vanson is better off not mucking around with the formula too much. Two tracks in the later stages of the album show an experimental tendency that isn't quite hitting the mark. "Schizofreniak" is what it says it as, a stop-start assembly of musical ideas that sound attractive enough on their own but amount to less than the sum of their parts on the recording. "V hlubinì èerného lesa" utilised a guest synthline from Necrocock (who?), but they fail to nail the 'quiet bit into loud bit' transition with any real style. It's a common error, sure, but I've never liked songs that come and go as they please. The secret to successful songwriting is getting stuff like this to hang together.

In conclusion then, it's a reasonable enough deviation from Warsickle, but I don't feel like I've been treated to anything special, either. So, yes, worth a try once, and some good songs emerged as a result, but I'm not convinced there's much more creative potential in the concepts chosen here. Herr Pohl and his clan of vampric followers sucked it dry years ago. Aug 09 2013

Jonny Hall

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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