Review Summary: All of my dreams become realities, and some of my realties become dreams
Sometimes saying so little can mean so much more. Without a dialogue to propel a story forward, what we’re left to rely on is thought and feeling to flesh out the unsung narrative. And while it remains entirely subjective and completely interpretive as to how everything plays out, it needs to be said that weaving tales without words can sometimes serve up the most beautiful of stories. Enter Strangezero, who for the better part of the last decade, have crafted intimate and, occasionally jarring, dark ambient tracks designed to provoke and tantalize in equal measures. It’s a dark soundscape that moves through different moods and reflections, always hinting at deeper meanings and thoughts, but never pressing to reveal its point. While it took a few years for the band to find their feet, they have since crafted some of the most subtly intricate and stark music in recent years. Coming off the unnerving disparity of 2008’s The Neverlands
was never going to be an easy task, but with Newborn Butterflies
, Strangezero have once again proven their mastery of the subtle yet all consuming.
Opening track, ‘Ikebana’, comes off as a hypnotic lullaby; its punches and hooks are subtle and slight, yet filled with endless amounts of weight behind them. ‘Different Feelings’ follows on with its bursts of synths caught in the mesh of echoed percussion, like piercing morning sunlight caught behind a webbed veil. Like waking in the midst of a dream, the sampled female vocals entice with an angelic welcoming, offsetting the scattered drumlines. Everything cuts like glass, be it the shrill and ghostlike piano notes to the smokey beats, they all resonate and push through the dream like nature created by this album. Everything is straight to the point with not a second wasted for each song to push its point onto you. Every track feels like a blistering outpouring of emotion and feeling, before the moment is up and replaced with another. Every cut, while relying on both beauty and harshness, fill themselves with a very real sense of numbness. Almost detached from some loose concept of a reality, the album exists in its own space and its own time, its own fractured existence. There’s a real sense of want, a burning desire to need
. A kind of eternal longing that is ultimately left unresolved by album’s end.
‘Mirteaux’ kicks things up a notch, not so much in tone, but it almost feels like a progression has been made. With its laid back and glitchy beat coasting over a typical ‘Saturday night special’ synth line creating an almost uplifting vibe, it almost feels cathartic and jarring when compared to the somber and dark textures painted by its predecessors. ‘Psylence’ follows in a similar fashion, pounding enough to register on a higher scale, yet still hypnotic enough to remain deeply entrenched within your sub consciousness. But its only a reprieve, a slight departure from the underlying coldness that seeps throughout. Almost like a brief glimmer of hope being shunned for a more trustworthy despair.
This isn’t an album that will appeal to everyone, in fact there are probably more than a few people who will write it off as being too “simple”. And to a point they would be right, despite being big on “sensory overload” every note is given plenty of time to breathe and grow. Nothing is cluttered, relying more on subtlety than forcefulness to work its magic, every rise and fall is allowed to be relished and savored. The little story contained within the confines of these 13 tracks is a delight to hear unfold, and if Newborn Butterflies
tells us one thing it’s this: the story tellers have returned with more fine wares to sample.