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Hamsas XIII - Encompass (2015) - Review

Band: Hamsas XIII
Album title: Encompass
Release date: 22 April 2015
Label: Blaylox Records

01. Unbound
02. Tigers
03. Encompass
04. Protection
05. Congratulations
06. March Masque
07. Seirenes
08. Slow Ache
09. Delight
10. Exploding Heart
11. Waterstone
12. Eclipse
13. Sacred Circuitry
14. Goodnight Kiss
15. Breeze

Hamsas XIII is a new project formed by Canadian singer Robyn Bright, known from post-punk/shoegaze act Cockatoo and Rich Witherspoon from the legendary USA gothic rockers The Wake. And if those two names aren't already enough to make some promising music, we can find on this debut album also guesting guitarist David ‘Wolfie’ Wolfenden from Red Lorry Yelow Lorry, who's credits include as well names such as The Mission, Rose Of Avalanche and Expelaires. Ok, I could talk and talk about all the three mentioned artists for an eternity, but let's concentrate on what they offer on Encompass.

Those of you who are stuck with This Mortal Coil's album Filigree & Shadow from 1986, with the early outputs of Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins and by everything that The Cure did on their first four or five albums then this is something for you. Encompass offers fifteen divergent, all of them being very atmospheric dark tracks. Robyns vocal performance is truly outstanding, like a siren, so ethereal, deep, vivid and dreamy, thus it perfectly blends with the sonic output which is largely concetrated around ethereal, dark wave, even dream-pop, world music and goth compositions. The instrumental side serves with rather minimalistic grip on the obscure, sometimes chilling melodies but still with a kind of warmth and depth that sorrounds them. I was simply blown away by the remarkarble lush moody ambiance of the slow and thick "Slow Ache", what an extraordinary vocal range Robyn shows here, then the whole reverberate gothy bass driven line makes such a heavy impact on the listener. As well the strongly by This Mortal Coil influenced, in my opinion way too short opener "Unbound", or the slick, the wailing echoing "March Masque" are both true inner journeys for attentive spectators. The Dead Can Dance vibe is often heard, especially on the tracks such as "Tigers", "Goodbye Kiss", both with basis on that gloomy oriental atmosphere, very similar thing is heard on the longest track up here "Eclipse", but on this one the percussions are going a bit stronger and making kind of a tribalistic sequence. The hypnotic and rather ritualistic, vocaly amazing, yet dark to the core "Seirenes" is one hell of a vibrant ambiental escape out of this space and time. Hamsas XIII frequently use a lot of psychedelic elements like on rather more upbeat "Waterstone", a lot of reverberate guitar, bass strings and while most of the tracks are deeply rooted in the most bizarre experimentations with those, there's as well time for some more vivacious, rather post-punk/ethereal mix of things on "Delight" and on the evidently by Cocteau Twins influenced "Congratulations.

Even though I was fascinated by many things on Encompass I have a slight problem though and can't really get past over it... the whole thing works out a bit disconnected and I got a feeling that the tracks are simply scattered with no proper order. Then again, for example before mentioned "Unbound" or "Exploding Heart" to name a few are simply cut off when you expect that the magical sound will take you astray, the whole pathos of some tracks is simply ruined this way and it's easily to get out of focus. I would expect longer and more elaborated stuff here and there with a drive and melodies that makes goose bumps, they are certainly capable to do it and they showed it on a couple of occasions. Nevertheless, Encompass is still a fascinating album, yet well produced, it showes a huge artistical force of both members, regardless to all those similarities with before mentioned bands they are still offering something intriguing in a way emotional, a soundscape rarely heard in the world of dark ethereal wave music and it can be a mistake if you miss this album.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 7,5/10