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Echtra - Bard0

Label: Temple of Torturous
Format: Download
Released: 2018
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: N/A


OK. . . . . This album consists of two tracks, each exactly 23:00 minutes in length. . . kind of like Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells.” Also like “Tubular Bells,” each of the songs goes through a number of disconnected moods and pieces before completing, with occasional reminiscences of previous motifs.

 

Unlike Oldfield’s work, this has a few Death Metal vocal and guitar elements, in addition to the quiet, ethereal New Age contemplative stuff. Another comparison (admittedly obscure) would be 412’s “Path to Hocma.” album. This is demanding, cerebral, daunting music. It exists to challenge you, to push you to a different frame of mind; you need to go there in order to take in all of it. There’s also a live DVD containing obscured footage of Echtra playing “Bard0” live, which could (maybe?) help to bridge the massive divide between the songs and the listener. There are a number of lovely little sections, especially the open-string acoustic guitar arpeggios, but these are like small way stations between miles on a long road. There are tempos on the album: glacial and tectonic - - excepting some moments in “Bard0 II,” which generally feel more like unresolved buildups than rockin’ out. Nothing at all is rushed on this record, which can lead to some frustration - - especially during the final minutes of the conclusion. This is slow-motion melodic noise. There also 2 modes of human voice heard on the album, in fleeting places throughout: 1. a tortured, raw-throated below, and 2. a deep, monk-like chant or rumble. The latter is wonderful, and accompanies many of the best parts. The former? Honestly, kind of a drag, even in contrast to the surrounding beauty. “Bard0” doesn’t have the accessible replayability of some of the great epics, like Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” or all the parts of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” or “Empire of the Clouds” from Iron Maiden, or Mike Oldfield’s material; this makes it difficult to recommend to most audiences - - but easy to recommend to a certain studious, attentive group. The music features a number of embedded rewards for serious listeners, but they require investment, focus, and a refined attention span - - and you will likely have to parse through sections that are less enjoyable to find the good stuff. And even those listeners won’t love every movement of either “Bard0” piece. Deep geeking here, for anyone up to the challenge.

 
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