You can guess even from gazing at the cover art for Grey Aura‘s new album (by Dutch photographer/artist Sanja Marusic) that you may be about to experience something that’s well off the usual beaten paths, and that turns out to be undeniably, unmistakably, true.
The album’s name is Zwart Vierkant, and it will be released on May 7th by Onism Productions. In creating it, this Dutch band from Utrecht have crafted a fascinating, hard-to-categorize musical narrative that is bound to a novel written by Grey Aura’s Ruben Wijlacker which follows the journey of an early 20th-century painter through Europe, a character who has become obssessed with the Russian art movement Suprematism.
Onism has provided a description of the album, which we’re going to share with you because it really does provide a good introduction to the music — but we will also be giving you a chance to actually listen to some of the music, through our premiere of the album’s opening track, “Maria Segovia“.
Here are the words chosen by Onism: “Grey Aura create a liquid form of atmospheric black metal which shifts between forms like quicksilver, flowing over the boundaries of genres, slipping between cracks in the restrictive walls that surround them. Their second album, Zwart Vierkant, is breathtaking in its breadth and independence, dazzling in its ambition and utterly enthralling and all consuming in its complexity of vision. The collision of raging fury and romance within songs like ‘Sierlijke Schaduwmond’ is bewitching, the sweet, smoky jazz of ‘Parijs Is Een Portal’ is, as suggested, a doorway to another time, another world, another reality.”
That paragraph provides useful hints to the music, but in truth it’s difficult to completely capture the widely varying experiences and stylistic ingredients. In the case of the song we’re presenting today, it is a rich amalgam of sounds and sensations that merits that term “dazzling”.
The song undergoes many changes, but begins with start-stop bursts of explosive drumming and dissonance-tinged melody. The drums then tumble in striking fashion as the melody quivers and shivers. Prominent bass tones bubble up; the drumming cavorts and careens; and eventually a deep, haunting voice makes slow utterances, and later transform into throat-lacerating yells of extreme vehemence.
The song is awash in mysterious and mesmerizing cascades of sound, as well as continuously gripping drum patterns, seductively murmuring bass lines, and pulsating wisps of inviting melody. It’s all electrifying but also mystical (and yes, romantic), a kind of dreamlike experience, within which adamant spoken words again reappear. But it’s not a safe dream by any stretch, because there are too many moments when the shining sounds create a feeling of illness or mental disarray, and when the riotous drumwork and crazed vocals generate turmoil.
The final surprise comes at the end through an acoustic melody whose rippling tones are entrancing, and whose spritely dance adds yet another texture to this amazing tapestry of sound.
As noted, Onism will release Zwart Vierkant on May 7, 2021, and it will be available on vinyl, CD, and digital formats. In addition, a tape edition will be released by Kunstlicht. The record is recommended for fans of Laster, Ved Buens Ende, A Forest of Stars, and Thy Catafalque. Explore pre-order options via the links below: