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10 Nov 2010

Review: Der Verborgene Gott (Art Abscons)

Art Abscons
Der Verborgene Gott
Blind Prophet Records, 2010

There’s a unique combination of atmospheres that only seems to arise in certain corners of the neofolk world. I call it the “Sinister – Happy! – Sinister – But Happy!” phenomenon, and find it to be at once hilarious and captivating. Right from the get go, Art Abscons have this magic combination in spades, and Der Verborgene Gott, a limited edition LP, proves it.

Picture this – gravel-voiced male German vocals (sexy and a little evil sounding); propulsive acoustic guitar; grandiose (and very well produced) synth-orchestra; vibes; chimes; percussion; some very elegant bass playing; theremin…pile them all together with a devil may care aplomb, a serendipitous precision…and Der Verborgene Gott is more or less what you get.

Every track entices us into a slightly different parallel dimension. Sometimes we find ourselves wandering into strange, sample-powered soundscapes; other times its straight up, simple-as-bones folk escapades. The lyrics are mostly in German, and hence lost on me; but fragments of phrases suggest that there are some interesting mystical themes being explored in these tunes.

Something I really appreciate about this album is the incredible depth of composition. Art Abscons are able to take a motif and explore it through so many different permutations and configurations when they feel like it, and the result is that as a listener I find myself circling around a kind of ever deepening musical spiral. The sheer breadth of musical vision on this album is a spectacle to behold.

I guess the old Nietzschean Gay Science comes to mind in listening to this recording – because although it lightly dances across one’s ears, it certainly is not frivolous or light-weight. There’s a seeming effortlessness to the creative spark of this music, which celebrates darkness and light; intimacy and spaciousness.

It’s happy – and it’s sinister. And happy! And Sinister! If only more bands were so perfectly able to meld pop, folk, industrial, neoclassical, and half a dozen other genres and atmospheres together! All our souls are richer for the fact of this lovely piece of vinyl.

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