Philipp Münch - Elysium
Symbiosis is a universal definition which describes a close and long-term interaction between two different biological species. Such a form of relationship may often be found in nature, and there are dozens of examples of this kind of cooperation. But this definition can be also applied to completely abstract aspects of human sphere of activity like art, literature, music and so on. Industrial genre is not an exception and we can find many interesting products at this market while one of them landed in my post box just few days ago arriving from the distant Ant-Zen label. The new album of German resident Philipp Munch can be an excellent case to review in this context while the attempt was made to create a symbiosis of Greek mythology and modern industrial electronics. And what about the result? Let’s check it out together.
If you had been following the development of the industrial scene for some time, you couldn’t miss Philipp Munch and a pack of his projects in which he is involved for more than a decade already. Ars Moriendi, Cell Auto Mata, Synapscape and others managed to prove themselves with several solid albums, but I believe that there was enough material worth to release under Philipp’s own name and not as a part of any of his hypostasis. Elysium is a six full format album since 2009 in which the artist tries to bind a conception of the afterlife that was maintained by some Greek religious and philosophical sects and cults with the visions of modern minimal electronic music.
From a learning perspective, after several tens of constant spins of this record, I couldn’t feel the connection between the two worlds which were mentioned above. I think that the thematic symbiosis didn’t work well, but if leaving aside this disappointing fact and concentrating on the musical component only, the album has enough advantages to keep me awake and even more. 'Temperature Drop' is an opening track and it throws me right into the gentle sound of electronic vibes and Phillip's hypnotic voice. Pulsating vibrations together with a constant soft beat create a really retro-futuristic ambiance. This is one of the main reasons that I couldn’t find any attachment to the ancient Greek theme, the atmosphere is too futuristic to be associated with mythology. The same images are drawn in the following composition 'Is It You?' where a robotic-like voice floats over a monotonously looped melody. A mid-tempo rhythm drives me through the album, through the tribal oriented 'Ars Moriendi' and a space experienced 'Scanner' towards a long 'Fighting Back' which I would like to mention out of the whole context.
The longest track of the whole album contains more than sixteen minutes of a solid atmosphere capturing me from the very beginning with a heavy cacophony of various electrical disturbances and pulses. Suddenly, the whole wall of sound starts to fade away slowly after four minutes of a complete brain drilling leaving some room for a creepy voice of Peter to float over a melody sewn by an obscure mechanism. But the chanting session doesn’t last too long and in a few minutes the composition gains its noisy power again with lingering electronic notes of various pitches. This cacophony ends up with a more rhythmic part which summarizes a completely sonic journey injecting enough energy to make my legs dance under the table to the sound of techno.
After such a massive attack on my fragile brain cells, Philipp doesn’t leave me in peace and continues the process of zombifying me with 'Hard Working Man' where the same sound minimalism and mechanical rhythm create elaborate patterns of remarkable beauty. An ultimate plastic melody of 'Alone In The Desert' pulsate in a hypnotic tempo boosting my imagination with the images of extraterrestrial landscapes. This kind of atmosphere is transferred through the next track 'Elysium (Version)' towards 'Oh Sweet Joy (Spirituality)' and I am ready to shake my fat ass to the solid techno sound of this composition. 'Surveillance Of The Fittest' ends this long journey concentrating all the features described above in one final pulse.
The first thing that comes to mind when taking stock of Elysium is the word minimalism. I mentioned it several times during my review and I think it is a key word to the whole creative process in this record. It is not that kind of a minimalism which can be heard from Haus Arafna and all the bands gathered under the banners of Galakthorro label. The minimalism of Philipp Munch is sharp and poisonous, but with much less noise than could have been expected in the beginning. In fact, what hides behind this feature is a set of thick electronics layers, abstract noises and various special effects which demand from the listener a certain level of concentration to discover all the benefits and explore all the corners of this record. And the second element which is a real eye-catcher inside this album is a futurism of the whole structure. Thus, both attributes bring to our consideration a true retro ambiance with a soft touch of mysticism that one can feel from time to time. However, I would like to mention once again, that the ancient Greek theme was not articulated far enough, but despite this relative disadvantage, our German resident succeeded in creating highly entertaining music.Oct 23 2016
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance
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