Review: The Black Swan Triad ‘Symbiosis’

On Symbiosis The Black Swan Triad play with sage like sublimity appearing to map an enchanting, although foreboding, sequence of elemental ceremonies. A sense of desire to direct the listener with the allure of ceremonial performance ritual seems apparent, to untether, and disrupt the colonised fiction of ancient history, and create a shared space with something powerful and archaic. The past and present appear as mirrored parallel reflections, of a society grappling with new self-realisations. The constant process of deconstruction and reconstruction within each of the conjurations of the elements, is a rupture taking place in our here and now.

The Black Swan Triad ‘Symbiosis’

The first track Fire conjures sensations of expansive movement towards an exuberant happening through its rollicking jubilant nature. It evokes a destination of occult like community gathering bringing to mind the sacrificial gathering in Ben Wheatley’s film Kill List, with a twist and a step to the right from the Time Warp; funnily frightening. Rolling percussion is exotic and paganistic without slipping into cliché, the track promotes undertones of a dark inky quirk, it’s difficult to place. The percussion dissipates with the stirring of the creeping ambience. Vocals lead a narrative which is eventually sustained by two drums. The drums speak to one another and engage in a performative and familiar language. The track winds up with a folksy rock musical swagger.

Have you ever felt like you were sitting on a burning hay bale in a paper amphitheatre?

Air is a track on which The Black Swan Triad employs natural sounds as their ritualised musical talismans. By opening with melodies played on wind instruments, located in a space where the elements presence is strongly felt, brings a conscious acknowledgement of the creative inspiration and material craft we draw from our environment and place. It feels like field recordings ground the ephemerality of the music in a literal interpretation of the ritualised space. The track focus’s heavily on the element, in what seems a shift from a subjective interpretation of celestial nature, to a more interactive and intentional human investment to harness the tangible physical energy of the element. The vocals help connect and ground the listener in the play. The track finishes again with a darker side which is becoming a representation of the existence of another.

While sitting on the burning hay bale in the paper amphitheatre, a person walks on stage dressed up with a Kate Bush mask on. It’s circa Wuthering Heights and they’re eating a bag of champignons bought from a voice hiding behind a tree!

The track Water is comprised of three suites. Suite I begins with the sound of water droplets that seem like an eternal time keeping mechanism, a constant drip drip drip. A bass riff returns the foreboding ambience that ultimately succumbs to synth sounds gently sweeping through like sheets of rain. The ethereal vocals return in Suite II joined by electronic, futuristic and less natural or elemental sounds; floating robots are taking space baths! The final transformation, Suite III, arrives with strings which conjure the experience of a gondola ride through the canals of Venice, although it turns out you’re tied up in the back of a canoe with a group of throat singers taking you across the river Styx. Polyrythmic electronic play creates an interlude before you return to the sound of waves and an uncertain destination.

The Black Swan Triad play with sage like sublimity appearing to map an enchanting, although foreboding, sequence of elemental ceremonies…

While still sitting on the burning hay bale, in the paper amphitheatre, as the person wearing a Kate Bush mask is still on stage eating champignons, behind you one hundred vibrating white goods machines come marching over the hill.

The element of Earth is imagined through a deep bass rumbling beneath primordial chanting and a drum that beats slowly. It’s like you’re staring into a deep gorge, the heat from the earth’s core drying out your hiking sandals. Oddly enough it’s a fitting soundscape for a reading of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, forget about the film adaptations. The electronics begin and with them the subliminal quirkiness, which eventually gives way to strings stylistically reminiscent of the Kronos Quartet’s Requiem For A Dream soundtrack; the fridge is jumping about in the kitchen. The track never lifts off rightfully, keeping you rooted, while you work out whether that’s a good thing in this imagined place.

Void is the first track which does not literally engage with the natural elements and is more a place one could find themselves after indulging in heavy ritualism. The piece at first envelopes the listener with a static crackle and evolves into a soundscape which is sparse and hollow. Ambient effects moan eerily generating a movement of anxiety, isolation and woe. Vocals diffuse through the space with a lightness so ephemeral it keeps you unmoored and disorientated. My Roman Catholic upbringing has me in a place of post-mortem suffering.

Sixth Sense sounds like a melancholic manifestation of harmonies, a chorus of devotion or quite possibly a requiem albeit with slight pop sensibilities.

Oblivion is rendered tranquillity through an aural kaleidoscope of drifting vocals, that is until the noise! A havoc-wreaking discord accompanied by rasp vocals establishes the contrast, the abrasive alternative ruptures the tranquillity while guitars bring forth the menace looming. There’s a return of ethereal vocals, a lamentation dark and ambient. The ever-lurking guitar works its way into a grave riff, building slowly until the tension is released through the introduction of an acoustic guitar. Childlike vocals, and odd toy box sounds give rise to a Jan Švankmajer aesthetic, immersing the listener in a finale of the macabre.

Label: Reverb Worship
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Scribed by: Spencer Reid