When it comes to mystery, they don’t come more mysterious than Totraum. Despite their German name (that translates as “dead space”), the band hails from Hungary and We Still Remember the Night, a 4-song EP, is the début release for both them and their label, Tower of Silence. “Thomas A.D.” is listed as their “general manager” on the band’s sparse Facebook page, which also lists them as “founded in 2013”. And that is pretty much all the information that is available on them.
This is one of those few opportunities to experience a band from a clean slate. Yes, the cloudy black and white cover, with what looks like uniformed figures standing in the midst of a waning fire, gives the impression of darkness and bleakness, and the lines on the back cover, in an antique typewriter font (“We don’t see the new light/ Don’t hear the new silence/ We’ll create a new order in the aftermath”) does have the ring of a rallying cry emanating from the ruins of a fallen civilization; but those are just vague pointers that can mean many things depending on the mindset and mood of the listener.
The music jumps in with a swell of sound, atonal but orchestral, with force and majesty. It’s an auspicious place to start. From there it settles into a sullen murk, not unlike the Loki Foundation sound of the late 90s and early 00s; think Inade or Dagda Mor. It’s a style that has fallen out of favour more recently, as power electronics has moved toward the harsher and noisier, but it’s nice to hear it done by an artist with access to (or knowledge of) better recording techniques. There is excellent use of the sonic spectrum, particular at the low-end, and the sludge here is very obviously deliberate.
The second side begins noisier and louder than the first, although there seems to be a melody buried somewhere deep inside “Die Vernichtung”. The final track, “Infernal Dawn” shifts the sound a little, closer to Subliminal or the earliest Haus Arafna releases. It’s not a tremendous voyage from first to last on We Remember the Night, but an EP with too much variation would sound disjointed or gimmicky, while this one is cohesive and shows an artist capable of a decent range of material.
Built on a base of repeating, cyclical sounds (not uncommon the power electronics wing of the industrial house), the music has a hypnotic quality that draws you in and makes the tracks seem shorter than they are. It’s a bit frustrating, but as an introduction, it’s also effective, in that it leaves you curious for more.
It’s hard to be truly inventive in the tightly defined subgenres of industrial music, and Totraum are not seeking to break any moulds. But We Still Remember the Night is nonetheless an enjoyable listen, as long as your definition of enjoyable includes groaning machinery, crushing rumbles, and strangled voices in the distance. Get a hold of your copy now and stake your claim that you knew them before they were the next big, noisy thing.
A2) The Seed of Hatred
B1) Die Vernichtung
B2) Infernal Dawn
Power Electronics, Industrial