As a result of my recent review of Sol Invictus‘ Once Upon a Time, Prophecy Productions were kind enough to send me their 2014 roster sampler as a thank you. As a critic I have enough to listen to, including my own personal collection, but it made an ideal ice-breaker to freshen my perspective in between reviews.
The first track was by Darkher—specifically, an edited version of ‘Foregone’ which can be found on this release, The Kingdom Field, in its entirety. As could be expected due to the project’s young career, prior to my experience with that track, I wasn’t in any way familiar with Darkher beyond my window web-shopping of the German record label. However, this lone experience was enough to spurn me forth towards the opportunity of reviewing this new four-track EP when it presented itself.
What initially intrigued me was the ethereal entrance of ‘Foregone’, which featured a crescendo of droning, shoegazing ambiance that one would expect to climax into a metal riff. The anticlimax that the listener is actually met with is, in fact, down-tempo and simplistic with a slight psych-doom edge. The entrance of vocals furthers my intrigue and reminds me of Australia’s Sarah Blasko. Upon that realization, the aforementioned anticlimax was forgiven and the song continued to build, showing promise of taking off a few times before the musical bridge finally brought the subtle intensity of a borderline metal act, omitting a larger portion of distortion and adding a bit more class.
The EP’s opener, ‘Ghost Tears’, is played in a similar vein: minimalism of instrumentation, the gentle application of ghostly vocals, and a cello tremolo to end each bar.
Jayn H. Wissenberg, the individual for which the music of Darkher is credited, is a West-Yorkshire-based singer-songwriter who takes her listeners on a down-tempo and chilling journey. It’s hard to think that so much can be achieved in four tracks, but as the idiom goes, ‘good things come in small packages’. In the case of The Kingdom Field specifically, that couldn’t ring more true.
I’ve written it before and have had to eat ‘humble pie’ on a few occasions because of that, but I have limited interest in female vocals within the post-industrial scene. Before you tar me, my conclusion isn’t based on gender as much as it is about the suitability to the scene. I love the unpolished and sometimes harsh tones that are more aptly achieved with masculine vocals. Interestingly enough, and more often than not in recent times, artists like Darkher come along and serve up a large piece of the aforementioned pie. I’m happy to indulge—bring on humble obesity.
Darkher takes you on a journey that is created through guitar inflections that you expect to build into epic metal riffs which never come, cello that invokes pulls at neoclassical sensibilities, and musical and vocal harmonies that take you back to a bygone era. The end-result is a musical fusion that culminates in what the darkwave side of post-industrial music can hang its hat on and keep progressing with. Darkher could place her music into a multitude of genres and quite easily command immediate respect and interest within them. The Kingdom Field will leave you hungry for more, and from what I have recently learned, more isn’t too far away.
01) Ghost Tears
04) The Kingdom Field