I remember my first time experiencing Scott Walker’s ‘The Drift’ album back in 2006. For those that are not familiar, Scott Walker is a singer-songwriter that had a string of avant-garde albums late in his career, which were a heretical change of pace from his pop beginnings. At any rate, ‘The Drift’ (at the time) was one of the most mesmerizing recordings I’ve ever heard, and at times, it was downright terrifying as well. Fast forward to present times, and once again I am feeling the exact emotional state with Dagmar Gertot’s debut album on Cyclic Law, ‘Os Lacrimale’. Eight tracks of vocal and instrumental improvisations that invoke a sentiment of aimless wander and endless nightmares.
The merriment begins with the portentous “Iron Cradle”. Commencing with a single, unbridled note – that seems to be a fusion of a horned and stringed instrument – the vocals suddenly belt out with an inaudible presence, but present heavy Middle Eastern influences with regards to vocal control and technique. This is improvisation at its best, as there is a particular chemistry between the instrumentation and vocalist that will certainly resonate with the audience. Next up is “Non Healing Wound” and although it slowly crescendos out of darkness, a maniacal presence will soon unfold by way of chilling stringed instruments and mesmerizing vocal effects. This one is a slow builder and finds every aspect of the arrangement coming together in a deranged harmonic variance, while the vocal performance creates a segregated instrument that stands out all on its own. “Snake Dance” starts with an operatic-like vocal performance that assembles with layers of odd harmonies. Although just over a minute long, this track packs a powerful punch and truly showcases the talent of Dagmar Gertot. “Delirious” is one of my favorite songs on the album as it is as entertaining as it is mysterious. Vocals are, once again, perfectly layered and in the background, ritualistic instrumentation sets a bleak scene that is soon filled with Oriental influences and haunting soundscapes. “Two-Headed Roe Deer” begins with crackles and hisses of vintage tape loops, while random stringed-instrument screeches and off-key piano notes create a dismal soundtrack for the vocal performance that – at times – wanders off in the distance. “Pyromaniac” emerges as an a cappella track with soft, layered vocals and an underlying track of deep grunts and growls. Without notice, various instruments play in alliance, but with different types arrangements, as if they are out of synchronization and trying to find their way to a unified sound. Toward the end, the vocal patterns become more eccentric, as if anxiously finding a rhythm to latch on to for a continued aural assault. “Nude Metemorph” begins with choir like vocal harmonies being played in a dream state. As the vocals become more eclectic, the dream turns into a nightmare, intensifying the listening experience. The music for this track is down right dreary and the vocals are some of the most chilling to be heard yet. The final track on the album is “Anathema”. Starting with a refreshing vocal harmony of inaudible cadence, random piano keys create an abhorrent atmosphere that is sure to induce a trance-like state (if allowed). At times, it seems as if the vocals and piano are trading off, telling two versions of an intense story that has no words, but one that can be felt through the power of music and emotions.
Dagmar Gertot’s bold statement of vocal and instrumental improvisations on her first album, ‘Os Lacrimale’ is a magnificent listen and widely open for interpretation. Although I mentioned a comparison to the great Avant-garde artist, Scott Walker, in my opening remarks, Dagmar Gertot transcends any single genre or classification and doesn’t deserve to be held back by any barriers. Whether you’re into ambient, experimental, ritualistic sounds Or avant-garde, ‘Os Lacrimale’ will definitely appeal to your musical taste. I highly recommend this unique artist, so please head over to the Cyclic Law Bandcamp page, or click on the link below to download this amazing album.
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