Label: Icarus Records
Release Date: 14/09/13
Koenraad Ecker has come to our attention previously as a component of the excellent Lumisokea project, the artist however also makes up one half of ‘Stray Dogs’ along with fellow Belgian, Frederik Meulyzer. The Wasteland LP comprises their second full-length offering, and also marks a migration from the more conventional, post-rock outlook of their debut, Intangible States.
Whilst the album has a heavily electronic sound, it is their use of live recordings, taken during sessions at a desecrated Antwerp-based church that push the album to another level, proving Ecker and Meulyzer’s patience and commitment to their art. Similarly with Lumisokea’s Selva, a passion for orchestral music combined with an imaginative vision for re-contextualising it, results in something rather special, revealing the often unexploited flexibility of classical music.
It comes as little surprise the pair have enlisted Yannick Jacquet to develop an audiovisual show of the album, given its filmic nature. During brooding opener ‘Hollow Men’ or following track ‘Charon’ it is almost possible to visualise scenes from Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 film Stalker. Both centre around the use of menacing Cello tones and tribal percussion, marking out the LP’s intended direction from the outset.
As the record progresses, the use of organic percussion begins to hold more and more sway. ‘Rite’ is particularly notable for its use of seasick drums, rolling toms gently increasing and decreasing in pace, over crunchy, stabbing chords. The way these chime in on the offbeat adds a slightly dub feel to the track, an approach further explored in the closing portion of following track ‘Solemn’.
Echoing drums open the track, working up to razor-sharp strings and contemplative guitar, and prepared piano musings. Around the midpoint however, the track’s rather frantic drums give way to echoing, downcast stabs, interlaced with reverb laden percussion.
The deconstructed feel to ‘Ruins’ makes a clever follow on from this - as if the minimal ending to ‘Solemn’ requires reconstruction from the ground up. Slowly pattering toms lead into the album’s finale, ‘Vultures’. The track seems to capture a sense of looming threat, its lumbering, claustrophobic percussion reminiscent of Violetshaped’s self-titled LP.
If Dadub were to release on Raster-Noton, Wasteland _might be something comparable to how it would sound; emotive and texturally rich, yet also with a strong emphasis on synthesis and icy electronics. The progression from _Intangible States to Wasteland is pretty impressive to say the least, even given the two year gap between the releases. Ecker & Meulyzer are clearly a pair able to dissect their own work, slowly honing their vision without the need to rely on current trends.