Review Summary: Something special.Black Sea
is Fennesz’s first solo album since 2004’s excellent Venice
, and the wait has been tremendously worth it. Utilizing his usual repertoire of a laptop and a guitar, Fennesz has created what is probably his most classically-thinking album to date with Black Sea
, completely disregarding the pop-like structures on his other masterpiece, Endless Summer
in favor for sweeping compositions that resemble what Satie would have made in our current age. Fennesz also favors a more structured, suite-like approach with his songs here, as many tracks evaporate into one another, creating mini-epics. When tracks don’t bleed into one another, it’s usually because they are opposite in goal and emotion: the beautiful, folk-ish “Grey Scale” is remarkably distant from what follows it, which is the nine-minute cacophony of noise and glitches that makes up “Glide”. The contrast between the two adds a bit of dramatic effect to the middle of Black Sea
Despite its more classical-ish leanings, and the wider scope of Black Sea
, the record never once rids of the stark emotion of Fennesz’s other records, nor does it rid of his traditional vivid imagery. Parts of the record, such as the droning ending of “The Colour of Three”, are so striking that they put pictures of different environments inadvertently in your head. I always imagine a deserted beach when I hear the ending of the aforementioned “The Colour of Three”, and I envision a rain-drenched cabin when I hear the glitch-y guitars of “Glass Ceiling”, which is one of the more emotional and restrained tracks on the album. It’s also one of the less alien: some tracks, or “Vacuum” in particular, are so distorted by noise and foreign computer effects that they seem unnatural, however, none of the stark emotion in songs such like “Glass Ceiling” or “Gray Scale” is lost in these more electronic songs. They just sound like sad movie pieces instead of isolated personal statements.
ends on one of the best compositions that Fennesz has ever written. “Saffron Revolution” is a sort of reprise of everything that made the first seven tracks of Black Sea
so special: fluttering and quiet guitar playing, distorted and droning gasps of endless noise, and computer effects that flesh out everything else to help create a breathtaking beauty of a drone. It’s the perfect ending to a record that, in time, might be considered by me and probably many others to be perfect. Black Sea
is bigger and more ambitious than any other of Fennesz’s albums, and it pleasantly turns out to be the best work he’s done yet. What’s sad and definitely unfortunate is how Black Sea
flew under the radars of our local tastemakers and way too many others, because this record is definitely something special.