Review: Aythis ‘Celestial Exile’ & ‘Lost Lighthouse’

Having been performing solo for pretty much twenty years, outside of being involved with other musical projects, you would have thought that now would be the time to slow down and focus on popping up every now and then, with a little something to keep the experience going. After releasing five albums in that time, along with multiple singles and EPs, I imagine most musicians would have dropped back on the pace by now, and be happily creating when they felt the need, with no real push to turn the output up, and effectively work harder.

Aythis 'Celestial Exile' Artwork
Aythis ‘Celestial Exile’ Artwork

Yes, I know there are exceptions to the rules, for some bands, they are happy to churn out the same product time after time and feed off their already established name, year after year. For others, the passion to still evolve, and create something new is such a driving force, they adapt and take on new challenges, to reach out further with drive and passion that sets them apart from the pack.

Today I would like to talk about one such artist who has not only made one new album, but has then reworked and evolved ideas to create a whole second album and released them side by side. This doesn’t mean that one is inferior to the other, quite the opposite, and over the course of this review I would like to share some thoughts I have been having.

So, just to cover the most important part, this body of work has been created by multi-instrumentalist Carline Van Roos under the guise of Aythis. Having been a member of both Lethian Dreams and Remembrance, the time spent in both bands has been instrumental in forming what would become Aythis; a beautifully rich, dark and gothically ethereal feast for the ears and the soul. Ambient sonic monologues and funeral soundscapes provide the background for this aural catharsis, which will warm you to your core while freeing yourself spiritually from whatever weighs you down.

The whole affair is deliciously dark and a beautifully conceived body of work…

As for the albums, taking centre stage is Celestial Exile, while its accompanying sister, Lost Lighthouse, feels more like an extension than it does an album full of reworkings.

After being told initially that it was one album of eight tracks, and then a second of reworks, but having nine tracks, this was all too much for my tiny mind. As such, after trying to draw comparison between the two, very early I gave up, and took all seventeen tracks as their own individual experiences. For me, personally, this made it easier to comprehend the sheer scale of the project, and I felt like I had seventeen unique tracks, which was a lovely little bonus, especially considering the beauty of each moment.

Coming to the albums, it’s easier to say that it is an overall event, more than two albums compiled of tracks. Sometimes they are one tone, and then at other times, they shift in mood and pace, to create an experience of extreme highs and lows.

What this is, to try and not weigh the review down too much on little details, is an immersive experience, one in which you must give yourself to, and allow it all to wash over you. I am very much one for finding music which takes me away, and probably eighty percent of my collection is more darkly ambient than it is all guns blazing aural assaults.

Aythis 'Lost Lighthouse' Artwork
Aythis ‘Lost Lighthouse’ Artwork

I have a real love for bands such as The Gathering, Slowdive and Mono, who can take the nothingness and fill it with such incredibly artistic sound, that it transports me to another realm entirely, and it’s the same here. With this, it does nudge me towards fellow Dutch band Habitants and these lavish, ambient shoegaze-tinged outpourings are so intense, that they can bring a tear to the eye without even trying.

This is especially true with tracks such as The Endless, Magnetic, and the title track Celestial Exile, where these beautifully mournful melodramas play out to literally crush the soul with a richness and humbling sorrow. On Lost Lighthouse I get the same feeling with Helios, which I believe is the accompanying piece to Magnetic, Only Shadow Beneath Your Gaze, and What To Do Now, which all stand out with these monumental emotional soundscapes.

Yes, to compare the two albums, Lost Lighthouse does have a darker vibe, but to play the two albums through consecutively, there isn’t ever a point where I can say that any one track reminds me of another. I think if it had been that way, I would have surmised that making two would have been unnecessary, but here it’s been essential, as they work in unison to maximum effect.

I could go on and on about this all, but I would much rather suggest that if you like a little depth to your music, then go find this experience, and see for yourself just how hard it can hit you emotionally.

The whole affair is deliciously dark and a beautifully conceived body of work, and if you are looking for something to escape with, then this is all you will ever need, it’s utterly essential. I don’t want to cheapen the experience by going on too long, but to do it justice requires hearing it for yourselves, not getting it all from my mere words, which fall short of its deserved praise, it’s truly stunning.

Label: Independent
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Lee Beamish