Review: Clade – If Brightness Outshine Heavens So Prepared (Self-released, 2011)

The latest wave of arctic cold (up to 20 degrees below zero in Celsius!) in Poland creates the perfect mood for some atmospheric ambient music. The fact that I’ve managed to amass quite a collection of beautifully packaged, sprawling drone-ambient soundscapes threw me into a background music binge, when I would just lie on my back, on the bed or simply on the floor and look at the frosty gradients of the winter sky with the sun slowly setting. If Brightness Outshine Heavens So Prepared by the Scottish(?) ambientalist Clade helps visualize the hoarfrost and the shimmering ice surrounding me from all directions.

 The front cover depicts the Medieval representation of what appears to be the Devil himself (or at least a similar demon) with dragons (or similar mythical creatures) soaring the skies above him. Combined with the old-timey font, the packaging brings a nearly neofolkish/dark ambient sensitivity, and it’s not a far off predictions, for the sounds of the opening “Books” appear to confirm the dark ambient connotations with its monumental, unstoppable bassy drone which appears to be ready to obliterate everything in its path with its sheer force, Natural Snow Buildings style (the NSB comparison is not certainly accidental, Clade indeed sounds like the more synthesizer-heavy moments of the French duo). “Templar” captures the then-still-raw sound of Betrayed in the Octagon era Oneohtrix Point Never and polishes it up with a cavernous, unsettling feel full of ruthless reverb and dissonant melodies. “Penal Song” is a guitar-driven morose post-rock miniature which sounds like an intro to one of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s 25-minute epic suites with its field recordings and high-pitched drone behind the leading, sparsely strummed funeral anthem (the only thing missing to make it a real GY!BE track is an apocalyptic voice-over).

There are also some brief excursions into the more glitch-stained areas, like the shortie but goodie nearly one-minute long “Namer” which recalls the early days of electronics and the haunting and forgotten number station codes or the wonderfully restrained “Nine by Nine”, which marries quiet glitchy weirdness and the electroacoustic horror reminiscent of Svarte Greiner. The CD ends with an atmospheric behemoth equalling the opening track, the sprawling 11-minute “If Brightness Outshine Heavens So Prepared”, which sums up all the sonic unease and tortured sounds of the rest of album and presents them in the form which is at the same time incredibly focused and detached.

Listen and buy from Bandcamp.

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