Published on Monday, 13 June 2016 16:32
Album title: #1
Release date: 26 March 2016
Label: Consouling Sounds
01. Hoort De Engelen Wenen
02. De Admiraal Heeft Geschoten
03. De Tand Des Tijds
04. De Zon Schijnt Toch Ook Voor U
05. Gedane Zaken Nemen Geen Keer
06. Ten Dans in Tranendal
07. Op De Laatste Rij, Daar Zwijgt Ge Niet
08. Ten Halve Gekeerd, Ten Hele Gedwaald
Daghraven #1 is one of those projects that takes a bit of time to fully understand and appreciate. Yet like a fine Scotch whisky, once one knows what to look for, the quality and unsurpassed refinement become unmistakable. Daghraven is the twin-project (not to be played-down as a side-project) of the Belgian band Illuminine. I must say I am not familiar with the band, but if the quality of this Daghraven release is any indication, we should all get to know Illuminine immediately.
Daghraven #1 is surrounded by talent, not only that of its creator, Kevin Imbrechts, but also of everyone else involved in the project. Dehn Sora (Treha Sektori, Throane) has done the layout of the album, utilizing imagery provided by Stefaan Temmerman. This was the first positive for me, number two: it was mastered by Valgeir Sigurðsson at the legendary Greenhouse Studio, in Reykjavik Iceland. Valgeir Sigurðsson has previously worked with some magnificent musicians, and some of my favorites, including: Sigur Ros, CocoRosie, and Brian Eno among many others.
With the general praise of the overall project out of the way, lets move into the meat of this release. Daghraven follows in the footsteps of some of the greatest in the genre of dark ambient. Kevin's style often exhibits a mastery of the low-end rumbling bass drones, in this aspect a comparison to Svartsinn would not be out of order. Often the tracks seem to depict frozen barren landscapes. They can often wind their way forward with changes taking place on more of a subliminal level than at the forefront of the sound. Yet the beauty here is that, just when one becomes comfortable in the subtlety, there is a change. Often throughout #1 there are quite a variety of styles, sounds, and turning-points in the music. For instance, on "De Zon Schijnt Toch Ook Voor U" we hear gently sweeping drones, with a very dark and sinister element to them. Only when we reach the four minute mark, do things start to heat up, classical instrumentation permeates through the dark mix, wild yet perfectly executed string arrangements come to the forefront, bringing just enough life into the mix to excite the mind, but by no means abrupt or jarring. The transitions are masterfully executed. With most of the tracks on the album falling between six and eight minutes in length, the timing of these stylistic shifts comes at just the right moment, holding out long enough to give the track a solid foundation, before painting it in a whole new light. "Ten Dans In Tranendal" would be the one exception to the rule on #1. This track can easily draw comparison to something by The Caretaker, with its lonely yet almost jubilant piano arrangement, which claims the whole of the track.
The masterful combination of subtlety and dynamic change give #1 a strong sense of replay value. Not since the release of Azathoth on Cryo Chamber have I laid my senses into an album which can be listened to five times in a row without ever losing its initial appeal. It is quite surprising that this is the debut effort of Daghraven, albums like this often take artists years of experience to accomplish. Yet here we have it, the debut from this Belgian artist is anything but amateur. With all of this praise, I would make on caveat, this is dark ambient in its purest form. Fans of a more active and adventurous style of dark ambient will not find anything particularly "new" here. There will be no stand-out moments or tracks that get stuck in your mind and beg for you to return to it. What there is, however, is perfectly executed dark ambient, which I would imagine is going to pique the interests of any veteran fan of the genre. What it lacks in stand out moments, it clearly makes up for in longevity. Sometimes the very thing that makes an album so interesting the first time through, will later be the thing that takes away from its replay value. Any one looking for a gem that will not tarnish in the coming years, will find that sparkle and beauty here. Daghraven has exhibited an ability beyond the project's youth. I can only hope that they will continue to hone and produce this mastery of dark ambient in their coming releases to follow over the years.
Review written by: Michael