D.Rhone – Eelium (2012-13)

Mathias Van Eecloo of Monolyth & Cobalt fame sent me his latest release, this time under yet another mysterious moniker, with D.Rhone and Eelium.

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I remember the previous album Myths Landscapes being an interesting journey, one that summoned exquisite ambient soundscapes with delicate acoustic instrumentation to forge quite a nostalgic and wistful experience, but Eelium is obviously something of a different animal right from the off. The first track “9.21” (the tracks are named according to their length) opens initially to silence, the emptiness that precedes the darkness to come, because this album is anything but lightweight or airy. “9.21” is a dark and minimal introduction to the album, with 9 minutes of unwavering drone, dark bass pulses and some unrecognisable snippets of instrumentation; it smacks strongly of a Koner production actually, just with a little less…oomph.

“11.41” follows in a similar vein with an early 20 seconds of silence before the music begins, and this time it is something more magical. There was a particular track from Myths Landscapes that I loved called “EcuME” which had the most wonderfully balanced instrumentation; carefully managed strings, delicate plucks and drones weaving in and out of one another to create an unsettled and on-edge atmosphere, and “11.41” pulls that sensation off again. But these beautiful strings disappear almost as quickly as they arrived as the piece moves into its second half, chasing up the yin of the acoustics with the yang of electronics as coarser, more granular syncopated synths make their way ungracefully through.

The centerpiece I suppose you could say is the lengthy “29.01”, a track which once again chases up the same themes as the preceding track and takes the dark, granular tones of the end of “11.41” and spins them out for a frankly unbelievable 30 minutes. While the mood does lighten and the general tone becomes less dark and harsh, I still find it difficult to allow this piece to capture my attention for that length of time and I find myself zoning out. Luckily closer “13.28” takes a much different initial approach to revitalise my interest, with its sparkly and barely there piano wanderings seguing into more electronic accompanied musical territory with patters of noise and mysterious oscillating beats that spin menacingly in the air.

Eelium is definitely something else, something different compared to my previous experiences with his work. The fine and careful evolution of his pieces has been replaced with more repetitious melodies that work harder to establish and maintain a specific direction as opposed to what felt like a more effortlessly organic style, one that felt simultaneously refined and mature and yet spontaneous. On the other hand, this album is certainly not in the same emotional vein, taking on an inherently darker and emptier mood, capturing a much more grey, more lonely and empty world devoid of sympathy, that at times smacks of the cold landscapes that Thomas Koner emulates in his work as well as the passages of time that William Basinski distills so neatly into his. I feel pretty ambivalent over it, but it’s not unpleasant.

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