Monday, April 12, 2010

Trancelike Dirges

Artist: Procer Veneficus
Album: Ghostvoices
Year: 2006
Genre: Acoustic/Fog Ambient

I'm very fond of album artwork that encapsulates the music beneath its surface, and in the case of 'Ghostvoices', the solitary boat floating on a sea of fog with a line of trees in the distance does just this. I first came across this project because of the undeniable connection made to Velvet Cacoon, the ambient/black metal/drone band hailing from Portland, Oregon. Not only is there a cover of "P.S. Nautical" featured on the album but also the general mood and atmosphere is very much the same for both artists: floating, ethereal, minimalistic, mystical, and otherworldly. What sets Procer Veneficus apart, at least on 'Ghostvoices', is that the only instrument being played is an acoustic guitar, occasionally accompanied by distant whispered vocals. At times the vocals even take on a very quiet growl, much like you hear in Velvet Cacoon actually but not so overstated. The music itself is very simple when dissected but therein lies its beauty. It doesn't try to express any complicated emotions. It strives to lull the listener into a trance, the song often centering on no more than one or two repeated melodies. The melodies are actually pretty dark. There's nothing cheery and uplifting about them. Nevertheless, it will take you on a journey. Much like the figure on the cover, you might be able to close your eyes and imagine yourself in similar surroundings. Although this may sound like a lonely experience, there's a great sense of comfort as well. Plus, with only 8 songs (all of moderate length), the music never overstays its welcome and lasts long enough to keep your soul from wandering away or losing focus.

This is not the type of music that I find myself coming back to very often. It is the epitome of mood music but when that said mood is called upon you'd be hard pressed to find a similar means of satisfying that craving. I strongly recommend listening to this album with headphones too because speakers will not do justice to the subtle nuances of the vocals/whispers that are littered throughout each song. All in all, this is a satisfying ambient album that relies on the naturalistic tones of the guitar instead of the usual synthesizer and keyboards. Highly recommended to all fans of the aforementioned Velvet Cacoon and those who like ambient, black metal, or even anyone with just a passing interest in subdued and relaxing music.

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