Review Summary: With "The Quiet Divide, "Black Swan have reached, and surpassed the high bar that they had set for themselves with last years debut. An immense and beautiful record.
If there was one thing that Black Swan (In 8 Movements)
had in spades, it was poignancy. Black Swan’s debut was a dark and unsettling experience, but ultimately it was one of the most profound and wholly immiscible albums of 2010. It reeked of style and poise, which bolstered it as one of, if not the best ambient records of last year. This is what makes The Quiet Divide
such a hell of a surprise--in just one short year not only have Black Swan duplicated the success of their debut, but they’ve even surpassed it.
Just about everything that was said about Black Swan (In 8 Movements)
carries over unto The Quiet Divide
. It’s a dark, deep, and beautiful record, yet hollow and devoid of any and all life, like falling into an abyss or a deep sleep. Yet it is a mistake to think that this isn’t more than a “dark ambient” record filled with frills and flourishes of pretty moments. Black Swan have crafted something deeper than that, a record that seamlessly blends a immense number of sounds, samplings, and influences that all blend to make a breathtakingly fascinating record.
Black Swan have essentially duplicated their sound from their eponymous debut, which really is nothing worth complaining about. That album, while exceptional in its own right, felt more of like a stepping stone to this, or rather, a test run. The solid ambient base is utilized to its full extent, and Black Swan simply add more and more onto it. Layering the minimalist timbre with samples and twisted harmonies, the overall sound is something of a marvel, a dichotomy of harsh, malevolent sounds, and uplifting and glorious beauty. It’s more orchestral this time around as well, featuring a bigger, more grandiose sound. Yet at its heart it is still the same foreboding, ominous sound that so captivates as much as it terrifies.
Like the album before it. The Quiet Divide
feels like one long composition. The tracks blend seamlessly together, giving a sense of cohesiveness to the whole thing, as well as sounding incredibly consistent. Yet even more so than before, the album feels more varied and less muddled. Rarely will there be repeats in sound, as every track is exceptionally unique. The three series “Bleeding Hearts Alliance” (Phase 1,2,and 3, respectively) is spread out amongst the album, and really has a sound all its own. It’s the most minimally “dark ambient” thing on the record, with a hollow fuzz making up the majority of the songs. It’s sinister sounding, really, all whilst sounding intensely comforting. However, as wonderful as it sounds, it’s the more layered and “busy” songs that really make The Quiet Divide
so exceptional. Tapping into the more “boisterous” sounds mentioned earlier, tracks such as “Black Eulogy,” “Angel Eyes,” and “DxSxDxH” feature a wide spectrum of elements, ranging from mournful strings to operatic vocals. Songs such as these really display this album’s truly inspired selection, and point to the artists’ care and devotion to their idea.
The Quiet Divide
is a stunning and exceptional piece of music, and one of the great ambient works of the past five years. It’s painstakingly morose and melancholy, yet wonderfully beautiful and uplifting, and their proclivity to mesh these two sides is what makes the album such an incredible listen. Black Swan have topped themselves, crafting an album that not only replicates their poignant debut, but surpasses it in every conceivable way.