Signifier is a new electronic label out of the United States whom started out strong in 2011 with the consecutive releases of four different offerings from Ex_Tension, Cruise [Ctrl], a double-disc compilation more or less defining the label’s aural mission statement in “These Sounds Will Have To Meet Somewhere In Between”, and a new album from Oxyd entitled “Liveforms”. Oxyd is the duo of “Lord Sauron” and Ryby” out of Slovakia, two artists whom take their distinct style of electronic music into a more industrial direction in the well-known project diSHARMONY. For Oxyd however, these two musicians create a type of dark ambient that manifests itself in a variable array of different styles, mutating from bleak death industrial all the way to more neoclassically influenced synths. Since 2005, Oxyd has existed modestly having only five releases available after a seven-year career starting with a limited collaboration with the secretive project Sumad entitled “Mysterious Places of Dead Souls” on Italy’s cult label Ars Benevola Mater. That same year would see the release of “Deep Core”, the band’s first full-length on Germany’s Polymorph Records and, unfortunately, one of its last after an increasingly silent release schedule. Following releases would include “Larva”, “Astral Border”, and this album, “Liveforms”, all on Aliens Production with the exception of this album which has been co-released with the aforementioned Signifier.
The album opens up slowly in the darkest possible direction for the band, taking on a composition that sounds as far from life as possible hinting at an ironic track title and instead opting for the bleak desolate air of deep minimal synth drones and whispers with a modest death industrial flavor. More overtly electronic influences enter shortly with subtle rhythmic synth play that does indeed breathe life into the track, giving form and expression to the music. This opening track transcends traditional barriers, coming straight out the darkened void and becoming a beautifully layered IDM track in its conclusion. The “Dead Souls” tetralogy begins with track two, a nearly four-minute opus that features no rhythm and instead opts for the classical bell style that is found often amongst symphonic black metal projects such as Ceremonial Castings and less often in dark ambient. The track goes on to, like the previous, evolve into something new with distinct primal groaning and more deep drones and mild electronic experimentation that flows unphased into “Propulsion” which offers much of the same distant atmosphere before making the pattern of the album apparent and again evolving into something new with a repetitive industrial rhythm. The Dead Souls tracks are all nearly playful in their melodic textures that inhabit the spaces between tracks, with the exception of Parts III and IV whom co-exist together. This shimmering bell style represents the inherent playful nature of the naked soul. Though rhythm does pop up in the second part and fourth parts, they are largely minimal and tribal and hint at a sort of introverted representation of the modern spirit in an ancient sense.
Two tracks, “Voices in me” and “Emphatic Clones” are labeled as featuring diSHARMONY, whom as mentioned earlier is the other project of both of these artists, so these tracks are less of a collaboration and more of a representation of the area in between both projects — a style that takes the darkness of Oxyd and pairs it up with the rhythmic complexity and control of diSHARMONY. The album ends, however, with the two darkest on the entire album in “Moonlight” and “Aura” which pair up for somewhat of a surreal if not ethereal ending. “Moonlight” in particular has a sound that pays homage to other Eastern European influences such as Paranoia Inducta and other Beast of Prey artists through its inclusion of hymnal chant and deep industrial presence. Where “Moonlight” features male chants, “Aura” moves over to include the female side and utilizes synth instead of industrial clanking for atmosphere.
This album is a bit of a ride and may be a confusing one for most fans of dark ambient. The inclusion of definitive rhythms in the music may be enough to take some listeners out of the lulling meditative nature of the dark atmosphere, but the same could be said for the overt presence of sharp synth hits like bells. This is probably more like to be appreciated by fans of melancholic and dark IDM whom have a love for minimal nature or blending of genres, plenty of whom should exist already as fans of the sadly defunct Hive Records and Tympanik Audio.
02) Dead Souls Part I
04) Dead Souls Part II
05) Voices in me (Feat. diSHARMONY)
06) Dead Souls Part III
07) Dead Souls Part IV
08) Emphatic Clone (Feat. diSHARMONY)