Some of you may remember that I wasn’t a huge fan of Anemone Tube’s inter-album EP In the Vortex of Dionysian Reality. However, I did very much enjoy the new album’s advance tracks, ‘Tower of Evil (The Ultimate Truth)’ and ‘Sea of Lights (Golden Temple)’, premiered here on Heathen Harvest. So, the truth is that I approached Golden Temple with only a hazy notion of what to expect, either from the artist or myself.
Anemone Tube is the working name for Stefan Hanser. He started this project in the mid-nineties in southern Germany but has been based in Berlin since 2010. Golden Temple is the third installment in the Suicide Series, a succession of albums using field recordings made in China and Japan as the foundation for a sonic crucible combining ideas from Buddhist and nihilist philosophy, realism, and the influence of literary and visual artists from Europe and the Far East.
Whether or not the listener will be able to connect with the artist’s multi-layered vision is a subjective matter; I can certainly hear the influence of the Far East in what sounds like Buddhist chants, but which could easily be the droning of machines processed to reveal eerie similarities to human vocalizations. Nothing here is obvious or surface-level. The field recordings are worked seamlessly into the weighty, muscular synths and feedback. It’s like watching a master chef at work; everything is precisely rendered and incorporated so that each element is present, but transformed into a new and intriguing whole, offered not so much for consumption as for contemplation.
The album begins with a thirteen-minute epic in ‘L’homme et les sirènes’—a track that draws the listener down to its oceanic depths, tantalizing with intricate production (engineer James Plotkin acquits himself with characteristic excellence throughout) and warbling feedback that does, indeed, sound a little like one might imagine from a contemporary Siren’s call. It’s a slow progression that presses you under its increasing weightiness, almost like you are being tenderized for what is to come. It’s as hypnotically beautiful and terrifying as its title suggests and, as the legend goes, the Sirens always win in this battle. By the end of the track, you’ve either succumbed to its dark beauty, or you’ll be lashing yourself to something secure in order to resist.
There is a duality established between the music that summons the listener back to the primordial world—the realm of the Ur-god Chaos, who gave birth to the Greek Titans—while at the same time referencing icons of consumerism and capitalist triumph over the spirit. The abyss-like feedback howls of ‘Apocalyptic Fantasy’ and ‘Tower of Evil (Ultimate Truth)’ are neatly separated by a voice that sharply declares ‘J’aime l’argent’ (either ‘I like money’ or ‘I love money’). The placement of that sample on a pinpoint between the sonic chasms on either side is one of the touches that elevates Golden Temple from dark, thick, and satisfying power electronics to something more engrossing on levels beyond aural.
The final two tracks form a sort of appendix to the album proper, subtitled Arkadia: Dreamland and Myth. It’s a finely crafted dual attack of seething dark and clouded light. The second of the two tracks, the album’s parting salvo, is composed by Swiss sound artist Dave Phillips and features field recordings of Japan’s notorious suicide forest.
This has been on frequent rotation since I first received it, and it continues to offer me more—something that sounds clichéd, but I’m at a loss for how else to describe it. On the surface, it might seem comparable to other music in the genre, but there’s a great deal more to it.
Golden Temple is definitely Anemone Tube’s strongest release to date and more than worth the investment of money and time.
01) L’homme et les sirènes
02) Apocalyptic Fantasy
03) Tower of Evil (The Ultimate Truth)
04) Negation of Myth
05) Sea of Lights (Golden Temple)
06) Anthropocene — The Dark Abyss of Time
07) I, Death, Rule Even in Arcadia
08) Tojinbo — Tranquil Sea of Equanimity