Just as Conan broods upon his throne in Aquilonia, so it is that Wolvserpent’s Blake Green broods in his studio, and in his brooding brings forth the dark, earthy sensuality of Aelter.
Like a tenebrous shadow to Wolvserpent, Aelter plumb the darkest depths, but do so using subtler means than Green’s more overtly amplified duo. The four tracks herein, compiled from a pair of self-released vinyl LPs and originally taking up one whole side a piece, are at once warm and intimate in sound and tone, yet deeply lunar and autumnal in hue.
Beginning with a hushed sense of intimacy ‘Dusk’ unfolds over quarter of an hour, based around a carefully strummed plangent clean guitar motif, backgrounded by blossoming nebulous overtones of fuzz, and swells of spectral sound that have the eerie quality of a Mellotron – that sense of creaking fragility and iciness mixed with an indefinable organic quality peculiar to that venerable instrument.
‘Dawn’ shimmers into focus with a spectral, icily spiky organ playing an elegiac air, soon joined by that clean, spacious guitar and those blooms of depthcharging fuzz – as in ‘Dusk’, only more so. The organ is more pronounced, the space between guitar notes is greater and the dark swell of fuzz darker. Buried in the midst of all of this is a plaintive vocal, following the organ line, that surfaces for a brief time before fading away with the rest. From this yawning silence comes a mournful piano, flowering for a brief period until that too is swept away into nothingness.
The eerie Mellotron sound comes back to haunt the intro to ‘Beloved’, joined by distant piano. These sounds are soon replaced by deep, heavily reverbed, drums, echoing guitars with a gothic western twang and borderline whispering, moaning vocals. The mellotron begins a rising and falling cadence in the deep background, and the whole thing sounds not unlike a very woozy version of latter-day Earth tinged with the out-of-focus-but-beautiful feel of, say, Mazzy Star.
These principal elements weave in and out of audibility over the course of twenty minutes in a variety of combinations until the guitars become sharper, louder and eventually apocalyptic. Arcs of sustained notes sirening across the soundfield, booming percussion like underwater bombs and colossal guitars towering above everything in a slow-motion apocalypse.
‘Follow You’ creeps up stealthily, from quiet beginnings, moving from icy synth washes, echoing guitar and distant organ tones into a tidal wave of monstrous guitar-molasses, cold harmonies and glacial piano, through a spectral choir and chiming bells into a relentlessly rolling blues riff that flows like treacle across the rest of the track, tracked by thudding skeletal percussion.
With Aelter, Green has made music for those liminal times, those in-between moments such as dusk and dawn, and made it feel so intimate, so personal that it almost feels sacred. Keeping the ingredients of the sound minimal and consistent, he has carefully and lovingly crafted the over-arching feel that each track is a part of the greater whole, whilst still allowing each one to live within its own space. Truly a master craftsman of sound and mood, and Aelter is his most intimate offering.
Scribed by: Paul Robertson