Review Summary: How did we get here?
From my numerous reviews and soundoffs, most of you know me by now as the Sputnik’s grind authority. While I appreciate the faith you’ve given me over the past few months, I feel obliged to elaborate, in the context of my next effort, on the musical and, more importantly highly personal past that I’ve so far managed to keep a secret.
For, as perhaps only few of you might have expected, I haven’t always indulged in aggressive music bent on destruction. No, back then my life was very different, almost unrecognizable from the shadowy presence I keep today. You see, I had a wife, and two beautiful children. But they were taken away from me, and whether by force or of my own accord I shall keep a secret. Then, everything changed. I became a bitter man filled with regret, waiting to die alone. Trapped in a small bedroom in a nondescript apartment, one feeling came to be my single companion: Guilt. And no matter what I did, no matter how hopeless I was, no matter how confused, that guilt was always there reminding of the truth. And with my social regression inevitably came a shift in my musical preferences. Grind offered me things normal life would never provide, and I took the offer with open hands. As my life collapsed minute by minute I sunk deeper and deeper into a dark abyss, and what was initially an affection soon turned into an obsession. I was unable to function outside the musical soundscapes I created. Each time I put on my headphones and let the riffs flow through me, I knew that I wasn’t merely being transported to another world inside my head. I came to grindland to be woken up. Grind became my reality.
Until I found Zelienople
. Until The World Is a House on Fire
rescued me from the shade of a life I led, a half-remembered dream that I chose to forget.
Zelienople build their own world. Walking the thin line between their tranquil, slow-paced slowcore in the vein of early Low and the dreamy, lustful ambient not too disimilar to the atmosphere found on any William Basinski record, The World Is a House on Fire
is another mature outing by a band seems to get better with age (a great feat itself considering that they already started from particulary great heights). It’s a lush yet fragile effort that can collapse at any moment with the slightest disturbance. But Zelienople have expanded on their strenghts they’ve expressed in previous albums, never letting one element in this giant microcosmos dominate over the other, resulting in a balanced album with plenty of replay value. Downwards is the only way forwards. All songs start start at the absolute basic, floating their way through with minimal compositions and gentle touch, rarely evolving into something more that is absolutely necessary. Yet, for all it’s worth, it works wonders, luring the listener into soundscapes so vivid and organic they feel almost real.
Yet for the more experienced, it is clear that trouble is ahead. Zelienople might have most of the listeners convinced to carry on with their flawless listening, but they don't know the truth. The truth that at any minute, the band might bring a freight train through the wall. The truth that imperfections are bursting through the album’s impeccable surface. And the truth that as we go deeper into The World Is a House on Fire
, we're also going deeper into ourselves
. And the question is: Are we going to like what we find there?