“Flames and Ether” C46
(Oxtail Recordings)

Melancholy. It’s everywhere today, permeating the collective consciousness. It often manifests itself outwardly as anger, and whether or not that’s a misdirected reaction is dependent upon how you feel about the object of that anger. Andreas Brandal, the prolific Andreas Brandal (seriously, check the dude’s Discogs page), has a brand spankin’ new tape out on Oxtail, and whether you’ve got a fire in you or you’re grieving the loss of a philosophy or worldview – or even if you’ve moved on into a bleak future westworld (not necessarily Westworld) – it will speak to you in ways you might not expect, whispers across landscapes and thunder in distant clouds. Brandal’s harnessed the language of near-future dystopia by combining it with “spaghetti western” flourishes, presenting in result an apocalyptic experience, one where the oxymoronic violence and tranquility of the title have converged and spawned. The juxtaposition is strange and majestic. In short, it’s stunning.

Each of the eight pieces here convey an extreme sense of mood, fixating on that sort of sci-fi atmosphere that propels the imagination to creative new heights. There are obvious places it goes, and you can figure out your own destinations for yourself, filling in personal references from my description so far. Guitar and synthesizer, along with occasional strings and percussion, in the hands of this master, are perfectly combined for maximum transportation. A true new world is created here – Brandal should have his hand in some sort of soundtrack work, as there has to be a Hollywood studio just begging for this kind of scene-setting. But it’s out here among us, with the shellshocked and disillusioned masses, pits in our stomachs as we face the future, or the past, alternately enflamed or narcotized. And there it is, Flames and Ether, a reflection of the utter fiction of our weird, actual lives.

--Ryan Masteller