Review Summary: This album is inevitably dark ambient's most innovative (and sexy) release in a very long time.
One of my favorite tricks that musicians use is the manipulation of modern technology to create a relatively antiquated sound. Granted, I probably only like it because it's so incongruous with reason; it's so ironic that someone would use the "latest-and-the-greatest" to produce something which sounds just so old
. Unless it's just some mordacious way to propose that revivalist movements are indeed fresh and new (or perhaps a mordacious way to propose that they're not; it's all very confusing), it comes across just another way to expand upon sound. With that being said, most artists who make use of this technique go back to a time that's retro, but no further. The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath a Cloud was just far too ahead of their time (or stuck too damn far in the past) in that aspect, for they didn't go back to the sixties, the seventies, or the eighties, they ventured centuries further. Their sound was an innovation on European medievalism, making full use of not only "obsolete" folk instruments like the shawm, but tape loops, samplers, and a variety of electronic devices as well. But this technique, for them, was not at all an attempt to sound "hip;" it was a technique which served the sole purpose of furthering all aspects of their beautiful sound.
The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath a Cloud was certainly eccentric, emphasizing not only clerical and ritual chants, stomping court music, and bouncy acoustic ballads, but distortion, tape loops, and samplers as well. But they didn't limit themselves to this amalgam; they incorporated a welcomed sense of the martial, ambient, and gothic in each of their tracks, nay, they fused
them into a style rooted in European medievalism. Alzbeth's exaggerated female vocals, sung in archaic languages (Old French, Latin, and Middle High German), notarized this fascination with said time period; however, she was not without the help of her partner, Albin Julius. Granted, he took an ancillary role while Alzbeth took the reigns, but his affinity with distortion didn't go unnoticed. Similarly, the two halves of A New Soldier Follows the Path of a New King
, the relatively modern and the relatively not-so-modern, were fused in terms of instrumentation as well. Most of this album's sound is, of course, the somber interpretation of trends which went out of style more than four hundred years ago, but much of their sound is based off the manipulation of the manufactured. Processed drones and buzzing electronics are the few parts of A New Soldier
that don't completely reflect olden times. Here, Julius and Alzbeth hung up their Medieval garb in favor of a more accessible style, but remember this: A New Soldier
is a near perfect reflection of that which is very, very, old.