raison d’etre – enthralled by the winds of loneliness

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raison d’etre – enthralled by the winds of loneliness (redux) CD Old Europa Café 2013

With the sheer number of years Peter Andersson has been musically active as raison d’etre obviously his project is extremely well recognised within the industrial / dark ambient underground.  However for new listeners of dark ambient (and related) scenes, there may be a degree of unfamiliarity with raison d’etre’s rather imposing back catalogue, particularly due to number of earlier albums being out of print for some time (…or maybe I am totally wrong on this point and newer listeners have already downloaded the entire back catalogue – who knows?!).  Regardless, as this review blog celebrates the physical aspect of a release as an important and integral aspect, it is an opportune time to revisit this ‘redux’ version of raison d’etre’s second album from 1994 (which incidentally has been issued one year prior to it being a 20 year anniversary edition).

For the ‘redux’ treatment, rather than merely being a remastered version it seems that Peter has used original sound sources (which have been re-sampled and restored) to re-record original programmed sequences, which have then been mixed and mastered to reflect the original album atmosphere.  This has evidently been painstaking undertaken to provide a new multi channel recording, which has allowed a new stereo mix with greater dynamic range and professional upgrade to the sound (which is effectively the opposite of a level boosted and over-compressed remastering technique). So when comparing this ‘redux’ version to the original the sound quality is notably deeper and more expansive, where a multitude of previously hidden textural sound details are clearly audible and sit balanced within the mix.  This is not to say that the original was one-dimensional however it does sound much flatter, muffled and less dynamic in comparison to this ‘redux’ version.  In short the sound is impeccable, crystalline and breathes with both subtlety and intensity.

Likewise rather than approaching this review as if it were a brand new album, it is probably more appropriate to reflect on its historic context within the artist’s discography. Accordingly one of the hallmarks of this earlier era of raison d’etre is the presence of an almost ‘new age’ tone to the music – albeit much bleaker and darker – due to the use of occasional flutes and woodwind instruments, wind chimes, ritual gongs, melancholic orchestral synth textures and the trademark religious choral vocals. ‘Enthralled by the winds of loneliness’ also illustrates raison d’etre at a transitional point in the evolution of their sound.  Whilst the album still sits squarely within a composed song structured realm, it displays a more confident, flowing and elongated compositional style, which differs quite drastically from the rigid and shorter track compositional style of the debut album from the year prior.  This album also illustrates the emergence of abstract droning aspects, which would be elevated to take a much greater focus on later albums.   Within this framework the overarching mood is one that embodies ominous, sacral and monastic atmospheres evoked through solemn percussion, Gregorian chants and string textures (which occasional rise to shrill intensity), whilst other segments plumb the depths of ominous drones, ritual gongs and devastatingly bleak solo choral vocals.  Apart from the 7 main album tracks, 4 bonus tracks are included here for good measure, including 2 from the ‘Conspectus’ tape and 2 from other compilation appearances.  Given these bonus tracks were recorded during the same era as the main album tracks, they at least sonically complement the remainder of the album and do not feel pointlessly tacked on – as is often the case with bonus material.

With its sleekly improved, professional and crystalline sound, the inclusion of 4 additional complimentary tracks and beautifully presented in a 6 panel digi-pack which has reworked elements of the original artwork, there is much discover/ rediscover here (as the case may be for either old or new fans).  Effectively Peter has delivered a reinvigorated version of ‘enthralled by the winds of loneliness’ which is a pleasure to be re-acquainted with.

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