As we have entered twenty twenty-one, and things are at an all-time high with the instability of mankind, it seems fitting that a soundtrack to match that mindset would be a fantastic idea. Maybe the last thing you need is actually a full-on apocalyptic experience, and you’re hankering for something completely different? Somewhat serene, but at times with power to keep you firmly footed in reality. Maybe what you want is a full-on aural escape. Well, look no further, because Stellar Death have lined up just the thing to quieten your noisy minds.
Constructed by Scott Loose, and Matt Kozar, long time comrades in the band Brave, ladies and germs, I give you Stellar Death. If you’ve an awareness of God Is An Astronaut, or Explosions In The Sky, this is for you. If you enjoy the fulfillment of Anathema, this is for you. Hell, if you even have a soul, then this is for you.
Fragments Of Light is a project born at a time when it’s so sorely needed, and made so beautifully, that to hear it is to believe it.
Stellar Death can be catagorised as dark ambient, post-rock, or even post-metal, but for me it’sall of that, and so much more. There are elements of prog, and some doom too, and to pigeon hole the duo in to any one category would only be a disservice. I feel like the best, and easiest clarification would be industrial ambience, as that’s where it hits me most.
As it’s a ‘project’ piece, more than a full band situation, it reminds me of others I’ve been exposed to, like recently I had the honour of reviewing Doom II, by fellow Washington DC inhabitants Witnesses. It was both a shock, and equally no surprise to learn that Greg Schwan from Witnesses has worked with both Scott and Matt previously, with all parties having collaborated on each other’s projects at some point. This instantly makes it even more special for me, as I loved Doom II.
As for Fragments Of Light, it’s an eight-track delight of an album, rolling in at just over fifty minutes, so it’s definitely value for money, that’s for sure. The album flows through so effortlessly, that it could just be one long track. It’s hard to pin point specific standout moments, because the whole experience it one long standout moment.
An incredible album, expertly played, and brought to life in the most astounding way possible…
Right from opener The Astronomer, the soundscapes pulse through, weaving in and out, and feel lighter than air and actually gives the feeling of being thrust in to outer space, through the layers of the atmosphere, and into the great beyond. As track two, Endless, floats in, its beauty is unveiled. This is so much more than just music, it’s a sonic experience, told through the medium of sound. I close my eyes and drift away.
Track three, Betelgeuse in no way has me thinking thoughts of the eighties film starring Michael Keaton as the loveable rogue. Its majesty leaves me flabbergasted. In a world that needs more calm, this is the antidote. It’s all-embracing feeling of completeness leaves me speechless, which is no mean feat, let me tell you that. Binary Collapse takes things to a different realm, as emotive guitar and pounding drums break up the ambience for a short spell. Heavier moments weave through the piece, shaking up, and pushing power in to play.
Track five, Approaching The Singularity, has an air of euphoria to it, a weightlessness, which pulls the listener along. As it shifts in to uncertainty, and an almost instantaneous panic state, the once easy flow is shattered by a far more oppressive tone. The ambient industrial is replaced as it shifts in to a harder territory. As it eventually drops off, and calm returns, I can feel my heart pounding. I’m right there, feeling every wave.
By the time track seven, Critical Mass (That Which Cannot Be Created), is upon us, it’s hard to know which direction we’ll be sent next. As it plays through, I realise that even on just this track alone, what an incredible work of art this album really is. All the elements from each track thus far, are interwoven to form a gargantuan outpouring of musical emotion.
Afterglow completes proceedings, and through the musical narrative, to me, I equate it to the euphoric feel of burning up in the sunlight at the end of the journey. The completeness of finding home, sanctuary, and the infinite calm of the ever after.
It takes a lot for me to involve myself with instrumental projects, like I’ve said in reviews before, I need that narrative of a song to pull me through, but with this, it isn’t the case. I think it would impossible in the first instance, to even add a vocal performance. It would be completely unnecessary to enhance the experience, as the sublime music truly speaks volumes, far more than a song could possibly do.
As we enter a new year, full of optimism that things are going to change, and improve, I firmly believe this album will be the perfect companion for me. Its warmth, heart, and soul, fill me with hope for the future. An incredible album, expertly played, and brought to life in the most astounding way possible.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish