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Carst - Cosmic Irracionalism (2016) - Review

Band: Carst
Album title: Cosmic Irracionalism
Release date: 17 February 2016
Label: Black Mara Records

01. Signal
02. Acquire Through Awareness
03. Mimicking Magnetic Fields
04. Cycle Of Dimensional Inflation
05. Hidden Beyond Visible Light
06. Towing The Planets
07. Echolocation Of Another Form Of Life

Carst releases their follow-up to last year's The Horizontal Gate, which was one of the first albums published through the young label Black Mara Records, out of Russia. Cosmic Irracionalism is however the first full length released by Carst, as The Horizontal Gate only clocked in at just over a half hour. On Cosmic Irracionalism we are presented with a complex dark ambient album, which takes into consideration the cosmos themselves and makes an attempt to harness their grandeur and vastness through earthly art forms.

Humanity may seem old to us, who live but short fragile lives. However in the grand scheme, humanity is but a small speck of dust in the inifinite expanses, spacial and temporal. Our attempts at understanding the cosmos, throughout humanity's history, have proven comically misunderstood. What shapes these galaxies and this universe? Gods? Physics? Something else? The truth is, we may never know these answers, but as humans we have a need to make sense of the unknown. The cosmos have humbled humanity repeatedly and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. In this mixture of fear, aspirations, and an innate need to understand, we find the themes of Cosmic Irracionalism.

Carst has worked slowly and meticulously over the last three years on piecing together Cosmic Irracionalism, an undertaking which seems to attempt to make sense of, and then ultimately discard, all reason pertaining to the cosmos. Deep metallic drones are interwoven with field recordings, occasional minimal synths, and live instrumentation. The result is an often dense, macro form of dark ambient, similar to the style of Yen Pox. Cosmic Irracionalism at times can be an all encompassing experience, the layers of sound washing over the listener, filling us with a sense of wonder and occasional dread. But one of the beauties of listening to this album is the ebb and flow of these denser sections. We are not constantly bombarded with a wall of noise. There are claustrophobic thick peaks in some places, building a tension in the listener, then moving into much more subtly dark moments. These lulls in the otherwise dense listening experience give the listener time to reflect and meditate upon the vastness of the infinite cosmos.

Black Mara Records has only been around for a little over a year, but they are definitely worth following for any dark ambient fan. Their releases have proven to be consistent in quality and they stick to the dark ambient/drone/ritual genres. Cosmic Irracionalism is, to me, the most polished release yet from the label. Taking their variety of purchase options one step further with Cosmic Irracionalism, it is offered as download, CD, or cassette and the artwork contained in the album is also available separately, in A3 format. The CD, as with many Black Mara releases, comes with a few extras: a spiral pendant and prints of the album artwork. The visual art really helps to bring another layer of understanding to the massive collage of sounds presented in Cosmic Irracionalism. The spiral pendant and the "Cosmic Pyramid" and "Orbitals" A3 prints illustrate the vast and bleak expanses of the universe. These symbolize an attempt to make sense of the cosmos; geometric shapes take form, only to be engulfed in a blackened and chaotic unknowing, or nothingness. The more we try to make sense of the vastness, the more we realize that we do not understand.

Cosmic Irracionalism is a brilliant release from Carst, the time spent sculpting this album can really be appreciated when listening to tracks like "Signal" among others, which seems stylistically similar to many of the veteran artists like Yen Pox, Troum, or Bad Sector. Cosmic Irracionalism is highly recommended to any dark ambient or drone fan that likes their music to come with a bite. This album is not a relaxing listen, it builds and holds a tension over the listener keeping us in the midst of the galactic chaos being represented within, yet it never becomes overly saturated in noise, a balancing act which can always prove tricky with this type of music. A stellar release from Carst, and one more step in the right direction for Black Mara Records.

Review written by: Michael
Rating: 7.5/10