Amber Asylum has been active since the mid 1990s with the consistent member being the multi instrumentalist and vocalist Kris Force. Force has collaborated with a number of artists including Jarboe and Lung Leg over the years. There have been six previous Amber Asylum albums, an ep, two singles and this beautifully presented live album, recorded 11/11/11/ at the Wroclaw Industrial Festival. It features two new tracks; Perfect Calm and Your Executioner and a cover of the 1999 Candlemass track Tot. The line up for this recording was Kris Force, Leila Abdul- Rauf (Memento Mori, Bastard Noise) and Sarah Rosalena Brady.
Things open up with Perfect Calm, sounds work slowly with a slow guitar, viola and Ethereal Vocal style. There is an immediate air of Twin Peaks that surrounds the track which is at once fragile and powerful. Guitar and Viola are combined and to make a perfect combination; the vocal lines are woven into this combination perfectly. Things follow through to Thee Apothecary, taken from 2009s Bitter River; it features lyrics by the author Aldous Huxley. Electronic atmospheres and Viola gradually build an intense classical ambient passage that builds on the sounds achieved on Perfect Calm. The Viola gradually takes more prominence and haunts the track. Looking Glass is taken from 1997s The Natural Philosophy of Love and was co written with Annabel Lee of Blood Axis ; beautiful dreamy replaces the haunted feel of the last track as vocals gradually build up this gorgeous dreamscape.
Tot is a cover of the Candlemass’ track from their 1999 album from the 13th Sun, it stays true to the original through its’ piano use. The piano stays to a pattern as the violin works around this; both instruments take up the work of the originals heavy guitar of the original version and weave a deep textured passage of music. Kris Forces’ vocal works perfectly, the softness of her voice is perfectly suited to this track. Amber Asylums version simultaneously makes Tot their song yet also parallels the original; showing a wider scope of influence beyond the obvious. Your Executioner eerily creaks into action with a dual vocal. Fragments of guitar and viola float through and hang in the air, the live atmosphere is electric. Instrumental sounds build up and create powerful cinematic suspense. Bitter River is a more vocally prominent track from their most recent studio album of the same name, the work of the instruments shifts from big dramatic shifts of the previous track to working to elevate the vocals subtly.
Amber Asylum evoke a rich potent musical landscape; the wider cinematic scope aspect of Amber Asylum’s sound is displayed beautifully within this performance. Due to the longer length and depth of their tracks, just offering a well chosen selection of six tracks was a good choice. This spans their history well as showcasing some new material, all within one six track live album. The quality of sound and performance is excellent. Live in Wroclaw serves as an excellent document of Amber Asylum in a live context and is a good album in its’ own right.
01 Perfect Calm
02 Thee Apothecary
03 Looking Glass
02 Your Executioner
03 Bitter River