Review: The Lovecraft Sextet ‘In Memoriam’

Deep from within a low-spirited dark ambience Jason Köhnen‘s new project, The Lovecraft Sextet, turns to all that is funereal and possibly presents us with a humanistic depiction of the uneasy relationship we have with mortality. Engaging with the seemingly cyclic process of death, release and rebirth, on the first album for The Lovecraft Sextet, In Memoriam, Köhnen appears to plant his eye firmly against a lens that scours the desolate loneliness of the existential vacuum for a reassurance that death, is not the end, that a chance for rebirth does in fact exist.

The Lovecraft Sextet ‘In Memoriam’

The album provides a piece of musical architecture that spans shifting periods of time through an exploration of compositional delivery, it’s an elaborate viaduct inscribed with lamentations that cry out adorned in the faith of centuries of societies spiritual enquiries. The evocations of grief sit within an ambient void, where a single note defies the restraints of time, and the answers to the one and only universal question have a place for contemplation. 

The tracks float partially submerged, like an upturned plastic toy drifting back and forth on the swirling current of a shady urban pond, we see the child’s limpid silhouette beneath the lily pads. The fleeting feeling of buoyancy and inevitable loss is carried by the consistently slow and enigmatic sounds usually synonymous with dark jazz, bringing to mind Bohren & Der Club Gore’s Black Earth album in particular.

The sparseness of the playing, and lingering resonance of each and every sound, yields moments of creeping sorrow that fill the ambience with a trapped pocket of air, keeping the toy afloat and preventing you too from the ultimate threat of emotionally sinking, although a mild sense of anxiety remains. The confrontation of loss is captured deftly, and the ambiguity that surrounds, perhaps our own feelings of possible rebirth, is enabled to grow ever more expansive, Köhnen creates a space for the mental imagery of the listener to wander across an expansive vastness without the sense of possible closure. Its wonderfully accomplished through reserved and nuanced playing.

The sparseness of the playing, and lingering resonance of each and every sound, yields moments of creeping sorrow…

Welcome to a space of sitting in complete reflection and uncertainty. When listening to the album, it almost felt like I was attending a service, or wake, although the funeral or ceremonial musical space was difficult to place within a single time based context, or within any specific architectural site, except of course for one of mourning and loss. The album won’t lead the listener, it introduces you to a place in which to enter a sense of deep contemplation. It also offers little in the way of conclusion for the listener.  As with the subject matter, it is really a personal perspective, and possibly all we can do is sit with uncertainty and the unknown.

The album lists six separate tracks, which is probably more in line with the convention of album releases, rather than a necessity on In Memoriam. The track titles lead us to a location which is macabre and mysterious, really only enough information to raise imagery of ones personally dark and ethereal little nook, where you may wish to ponder the ambiguity of the compositions and source material. If anything, I feel there are two sides to the album and the imagined sides follow a similar format.

The first, Funebre Macabre, and forth, De Mysteriis, track open with Vocalis (vocals) and the compositions that follow are further variations of the theme and tone set in the first. Each track is intriguing enough to lure the listener into more profound explorations within the sequence. It all works extremely well, as the listener remains well within the continuity of the mood, and the perpetuation of imagery it conjures without being coerced into too many alternate locations.

Label: DenovalI Records
Band Links: Bandcamp

Scribed by: Spencer Reid