Raison d'etre
The Empty Hollow Unfolds


4.0
excellent

Review

by Alex Silveri EMERITUS
October 26th, 2008 | 20 replies | 8,651 views


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist

Review Summary: O, what elegantly crafted ruin

You’ve got to wonder about Peter Andersson. To create music like you’re walking through the wastelands of an extinguished hell isn’t exactly something done while riding on unicorns and rainbows. Traditional ambient of course took it’s inspiration from the world around it, the hum and bustle of the world being the canvas to paint their own scoundscapes. Raison d’etre, Andersson’s dark ambient project has done just the opposite – The Empty Hollow Unfolds doesn’t simply accent moods and textures – it creates entire worlds of them. Worlds in ruin, torn and broken, a post-apocalyptic vision translated through music. Of course, while there’s never really been beauty in ruin… oh what elegantly crafted ruin it is.

The most apparent thing that strikes out from this record is its sheer lifelessness, with the only warmth here is a lingering one from a vibrance long past dead, a wandering dread loitering in the air. Even the closest thing to life that resides on the album, the gothic choirs which feature so prominently throughout, play their role in the tradition of the ancient Greeks choirs as faceless spectators, uncaring and unfeeling, their voices lingering only to watch the lonely journey of the music. The music itself, if you can call it that, remains forever distant – shadows and echoes of sounds off grey stone masonry, never with any clear source, forever in the atmosphere of things. It’s an album that is cold, dead, and most strikingly – alone.

The bedrock of these songs is the rolling, rumbling bass like undersea currents sifting through the music, which set up the foundations of Andersson’s finely sculptured music. Opening track The Slow Ascent is simply that, with it’s low end only broken by the subtle tinkering of wind chimes and choral flourishing like an omen of things to come, while the twenty minute exhausting closer that is The Eternal Return and the Infinity Horizon seems like the sort of music you’d want to listen to while exploring an unexplained underwater shipwreck, with it’s distant ship siren calling like a ghost of a dead crew.

However gapingly vast this album remains, it is in fact the subtleties and nuances that make this record worth listening to. The quiet rustling of pacing steps in The Hidden Hollows place the listener right within the music, while the aptly named The Wasteland builds itself from the sounds of scraping metal on metal – Cold and dead, its lifeless, distant screaming as chilling as that of any voice. Yet, despite the tension that lies underneath everything, it’s hard not to notice that it never allows itself to break, remaining a dormant monster who admittedly looks quite scary, but with no claws and teeth to bite with.

The other problem with Peter Andersson’s ambient project is that it’s… well, an ambient project. The Empty Hollow Unfolds may be the ultimate mood album, but it’s also made for a specific one, not lending itself to an everyday casual listen. Despite its five song track listing, The Empty Hollow winds out for just over forty minutes of immersive listening and it’s hard not to be utterly drained by its sheer soullessness. Some of course will simply find this boring and bland, which might be the case, but then again, perhaps you shouldn’t be listening to ambient music in the first place. Right up there with contemporaries like Lustmord and Tim Hecker, it’s nice to a moody album that works – when you’re up for it.

4/5



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user ratings (28)
Chart.
4.3
superb

Comments:Add a Comment 
bastard
October 27th 2008



3435 Comments


happy new staffery

good review.

Angmar
October 27th 2008



2689 Comments


My favorite ambient album ever, just perfect. Great review, couldn't have really put it better myself, the things you said about this album basically describe why I love dark ambient as a whole, there's so much great music to be found in the genre.

Kiran
Emeritus
October 27th 2008



6001 Comments


Congrats on staff, really glad to see it. This, however, does not sound like something I'd be into.

Doppelganger
October 27th 2008



3124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I love this album so much

the end of the last track basically makes the albumThis Message Edited On 10.27.08

ClearTheLane
October 27th 2008



990 Comments


Good review, I've been planning to check this out for a while.
You could have mentioned that raison d'etre is French and means reason to be. In fact no matter really, just felt like mentioning it and showing my language skills ;)This Message Edited On 10.27.08

Doppelganger
October 27th 2008



3124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

or your WIKIPEDIA SKILLS

joshuatree
Emeritus
October 27th 2008



3743 Comments


really good album, happy to see you on staff, always liked your reviews except that sonic youth one

ClearTheLane
October 27th 2008



990 Comments


or your WIKIPEDIA SKILLS

This time you're wrong, I do speak French. I'm a European.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
October 27th 2008



15732 Comments


I even knew that. 4 years of french baby

ClearTheLane
October 27th 2008



990 Comments


yeah all they do is teach the verbe "etre"
je suis
tu es
il est ...
And if u know that word u can probably figure out what's the raison d' as well. Anyway, to the music..

Anodyne
October 27th 2008



85 Comments


I do speak French. I'm a European.
lol

BallsToTheWall
October 27th 2008



44164 Comments


Awesome to see this reviewed. I've been attempting to review some dark ambient myself but scratched them all.

Monticello
October 27th 2008



805 Comments


You could have mentioned that raison d'etre is French and means reason to be. In fact no matter really, just felt like mentioning it and showing my language skills

you could've sounded really good and said that it means purpose
anyway, i think i may check this album out, been meaning to get some dark ambient for a while.


silkforcalde
June 15th 2010



404 Comments


remember importing this back when it was released, oh how i never miss the days when i spent $30+ on full lengths

Bitchfork
December 14th 2010



7584 Comments


"You could have mentioned that raison d'etre is French and means reason to be. In fact no matter really, just felt like mentioning it and showing my language skills ;)"

I hope you mean the band name and not the artist because he's French.


By the way this is the best album of all time, no hyperbole.

Maniac!
February 4th 2011



26250 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Holy FUCK this is good.

Bitchfork
February 4th 2011



7584 Comments


lifeless/living

Xenophanes
Emeritus
February 4th 2011



10593 Comments


This is pretty cool actually

Bitchfork
February 5th 2011



7584 Comments


is delish

CosmicPie
September 13th 2013



1076 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Awesome, thrilling, vast.... I think he said he should be coming out with a new album soon, so I'm pretty stoked about that.



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