01 Cassus Belli
03 (somewhere near) Breslau
05 Macht euch bereit!
07 Modder en Bloed
09 Kämpfen und Tanzen
10 Les Enfants de la Guerre
12 Houdt het dan nooit op(questionmark)!
13 We’ll meet again
‘Voorwaarts!’ is the first album from Dutch martial ambient project Striider. The sonic aesthetic presented within is a finely crafted and compelling addition to its genre. All of the hallmarks of the militaria are presented without sounding like clichés; historical samples melt into oppressive ambience while digital planes are dropping analog bombs on our ears and an almost absurd marching band is madcap stepping to its doom in the distance. The artist aptly describes his project with these words “Striider is trying to recreate the atmosphere of war. That’s why you will hear lots of battle noise and speeches and other stuff that will take you back to the haunting moments of war.” I cannot imagine anyone not channelling World War Two when listening to this album.
The short and intense opener ‘Cassus Belli’ sets the martial tone and sentiment with sounds of a practice rifle drill being performed followed by a marching band thumping away underneath sampled vocals.
Track two, D.A.K., opens with a lengthy militaristic spoken word sample set over murky and ominous longtones mixed in atonal low register clusters. Soon another sample in a different language follows and is backed with the same dark impenetrable electronics which continue after the sample ends and is replaced by crowd noise is that is barely discernible as such, the listener only intuits this sound through the vague feeling of unease and high energy instilled by even hearing a large group. The ominous, foreboding deep atonalities are occasionally punctuated with tight snare rolls, and a men’s choir can be heard for a moment towards the end. The song ends with a sample of a man intoning an apocalyptic vision “…and that will lead to the end of *unintelligible* ‘in Africa.”
The opening of ‘Modder en Bloed’ immediately recalls to mind the Current 93 track ‘After Tomorrow’ from album ‘Crooked Crosses For The Nodding God’ (you know the one – Boyd Rice is prattling on about the apocalypse over Current 93 style calliope music), with a circus march being played underneath spoken word. This is followed by martial ambience consisting of soaring treble synthesizer lines and doom-metal-slow tympani interrupted with vocal samples. Sudden and unexpectedly everything collapses into a single high pitched tone that reminds me of microwave radiation tones, which builds into a harsh noisy atmosphere. The track ends with the same demented carnival music as with which it began.
Track eight, ‘Ostfront’ opens with vocal samples over dark ambience that slowly builds in volume. Abruptly static is layered into the thick, grueling murk with and historical samples in multiple languages can be heard fading in and out of the mix like unexplained lights in the sky. This track has a very empty feeling to it, evocative of war seized, urban, deadland no-go-zones. At about the halfway mark a very minimal and impressionistic piano croaks out a fragment of irrational and out of place melody. This accidental eye of the storm is soon almost immediately broken by the dark and ominous rumbling of bottom octave ambience occaisionally interrupted with vocal samples appearing like ghosts before disappearing back into their ether. Approximately one minute from the end the thick lower spectrum sounds fade out for brief moment of relief just to come back in just as strong and overwhelming as before. The track ends with an accordion playing a slow and pensive melody underneath spoken word.
Once again I have to say this album is a fine piece of craftsmanship and balance. Thanks for the challenging listen, I am terribly excited to hear what future contributions Striider will offer. Highly recommended for the connoisseur of military musicks in particular and high quality experimental music in general.