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Aythis - The Illusion And The Twin (2016) - Review

Band name: Aythis
Album title: The Illusion And The Twin
Release date: 6 January 2016
Label: Orcynia Records

01. Without A Name
02. In The Sleep Of Haze
03. Inertia
04. The Other
05. The Ground Is Burning
06. Break It
07. Dissolve Me
08. Night
09. A solace Of Violence
10. A Pristine Lie, A Pristine Light
11. Cendres Et Glace

Aythis is the solo project of Carline Van Roos, also known for her work in Lethian Dreams and Remembrance. Unlike her other projects, Aythis is a neo-classical ambient experience with slow soundscapes and melancholic whispered vocals peppered with piano, acoustic guitar, and cello, among other instrumentation. Formed in 2006, Aythis is back with the fourth album The Illusion And The Twin. Described by Carline as being lyrically inspired by dreams, isolation, and death, aiming to be timeless and isolated from human nature, The Illusion And The Twin surely hits the mark. The overall album gives a very cold and melancholic vibe, often incorporating field recordings like gusts of wind and the occasional howl of a wolf or some other nocturnal creatures. It is hard not to be immersed in the haunting despair of Aythis' vision.

A high pitched ringing enshrouded in a serene yet somber piano atmosphere starts the album off on "Without A Name". Carline's voice slowly emerges from the darkness, along with a subtle underlying roar which builds into an energetic percussion, inviting the listener to take a seat for the chillingly melancholic journey ahead. I was quite pleased to feel a sense of similarity between this opening track and "5th Sky Within A Dying Single Ember" from the memorable Dahlia's Tear album Under Seven Skies. Many fans will recall this epic track which featured Carline's vocals. As we move into "In The Sleep Of Haze" a frozen soundscape is painted before giving way to dreamy piano and soft whispered vocals, enshrouded by a prominent drum-line which drives the experience forward. "Inertia" continues with this frozen scene, introducing some fantastic field recordings which pull the listener deeper into Aythis' vision as Carline's voice softly serenades in the background. "The Other" gently transports us through a thick mist with its soft vocals and piano. "The Ground Is Burning" keeps the ambient soundscapes at the forefront, quietly and peacefully drawing us in as a hauntingly hypnotic voice sings its sad tale. A simple yet powerful set of lyrics are etched upon our memory as she sings "The water is running, without a sound, the ground is burning, do you feel the threat?". "Break It" is another short and sweet track filled with thick atmosphere. "Dissolve Me" brings The Illusion And The Twin to its first climax, with a fully rounded set of instruments, it is the closest track on the album to something we would expect to hear of a more traditional band, incorporating distorted guitar notes, drums, and bass, before dropping off into a peaceful cello and acoustic guitar finale. Yet this doesn't in any way pull us from the experience, it is an energetic lull in the otherwise ethereal and depressive theme. It is as if we are coming up for a breath of fresh air, before diving back into one of the most timeless and emotional tracks on the album. "Night" left a strong impression on me as a listener, begging my return, over and over, hours and days after the first listen. The simplicity of the melancholic vocals and piano matched with an equal portion of beauty makes the perfect combination for a track that stands out as if it were the light itself, flickering in a cold window on a winter evening, longing for the return of some long lost love. "A Solace Of Violence" is ambient, cold, and dark with its slow beating drums edging in with strange flickers of sound from the background as if we the listeners are actively trying to force them out of our minds. A somber piano sheds light on the darkness, but leaves little hope of happiness. "A Pristine Lie, A Pristine Light" uses a prominent upbeat piano line which prevails over Carline's soft barely audible voice, which sings in a melancholic whisper. Yet as the chorus arrives she picks up the energy consuming the track with her powerfully ethereal vocals, raising the whole album to great heights. "Cendres Et Glace" leaves us in a sad and lonely place, just on the edge of darkness as if we are back inside the lonely cabin in the far north, bracing as the hearth fire flickers and finally extinguishes itself, the wolves on the prowl nearby await the moment that their feast will emerge. Bringing to a close not only the album, but the lifeforce itself "Cendres Et Glace" ends with a triumphant climax, calling out to death, begging for eternity, before all goes black one last time.

The lyrics on this album are simple yet highly effective, much more akin to a dark poetry than some grand storytelling experience. The overall composition paints a vivid picture, without needing a helping hand from some dense narrative. Carline's talents are ever present here in all aspects from the music and ambiance to the pristine vocals, to the desperately melancholic lyrics. The Illusion And The Twin is the perfect companion to a cold lonely evening when the listener wishes to be immersed in a comfortingly haunting blanket of darkness.

Review written by: Michael
Rating: 8.5/10