Towards the Blackest Skies by Rites of Fall

Rites of Fall | Towards the Blackest Skies
Leidforschung (LP/DL)

The latest from Warsaw-based solo project Rites of Fall is Towards the Blackest Skies, and its both harmonic and edgy in its dark passages and little nuances brought by guest performers: Jan Wierzbicki (double bass) on the opener Afterflesh. Elsewhere on the record you can also expect to hear contributions from Rafał Wawszkiewicz (sax on Void Instinct) and Malin (pipe on Continuum). The album is a flexible conundrum, floating between a post-rock spirit, dark ambient and abraded melodies that together formulate a kind of aural storytelling. There are Mid East rhythms passing through, as well as harnessed industrial beats.

It cannot go without saying how completely well-designed the whole vinyl package is, in gold and black, it’s perfectly austere and iconic in its own right. But it’s what’s on the clear wax that matters, and if tracks like From the Ashes, From the Dust continue to attest this will be an indulgent, ambient listening experience as well. About halfway in the reverb/drone sort of reminds me of the best from Spiritualized, it’s an intoxicated/ing vibration. And the same character fluidly melds into The Torch with its soft edges of mysterious murmur and gentle beat that builds and oscillates.

Rafael Anton Irisarri deserves a big nod for his expert mastering, I’ve been following his work in this field for the last few years, and it doesn’t get more spot-on as here. There’s an esoteric blend between the ruminative tracks like Expand and Collapse, and the more secretive works like the title track. It’s this positioning between inner/outer, and the thin line that divides the mood here. Intensely fluid in form, the track begins to rise with a soft beat and a whole lot of layered drone. Eventually toward the end varying forward sounding tones are added to round out a lively piece.

The closer, The World Will Die, But We Will Live Forever, has a hopeful (yet fatalistic) sense in its tinged pastel chord structure. The light never goes out as the scape expands and develops exponentially over the course of the entire five minute track. The mood is one of calm before the storm, in a state of levitation and deep observation.

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