Album Reviews

YRSEL – Requiem For The Three Kharites

(Aurora Borealis) UK release date: 5 April 2010

CJ Larsgarden (Ondo) and Julian Louvet (The Austrasian Goat) have appeared on CD together before – the split 3″ CD on the Burning Emptiness label – but YRSEL finds the pair combining their own unique talents.

With Ondo exploring the ambient end of the electronic spectrum – usually found gracing numerous CD-R releases – and The Austrasian Goat lurking in the shadows of doom laden sloth metal, it is perhaps no surprise that YRSEL is a dark and mysterious work.

An apparent concept piece, Requiem For The Three Kharites mourns the loss of a trio of Greek Goddesses who represented beauty, grace, pleasure and mirth. Eschewing the notion that most people (and one would have to assume, Goddesses) would want to be remembered for what they stood for, there is little in the way of mirth lurking in the dark ambience of YRSEL’s requiem. However, there is plenty of grace and beauty to be found in these creeping, unsettling drones.

The Last Visions Of Aglaea introduces itself with a thundering distorted guitar and rasping vocals which suggest that the following 50 minutes is going to follow a similar blueprint to those laid out by Sunn O)))‘s collaborations with Mayhem vocalist Attila Csihar. However Larsgarden’s influence is soon felt as the guitars drop away and electronic drone takes over. From this point it becomes an entirely successful collaboration, as it is almost impossible to discern which elements are courtesy of Larsgarden and which are Louvet’s.

The guitars never again quite reach the same grinding ferocity of the album’s opening first few minutes. Instead they add colour with feedback and become absorbed into the swirl of electrical mechanics and industrial tones. A two-note piano motif enters the fray around the mid-point like a lumbering giant. As the notes fade, they appear to feedback, increasing the eerie nature of what is unfolding. In YRSEL’s world, even pianos feedback. The Gollumesque whispering that adorns the track adds yet another layer of unease to what is already uncomfortable listening.

The Tears Of Euphrosyne appears to have been recorded in a gong factory staffed by a terminally depraved astronaut. Although most of the ambience appears to be electronic and industrial once again, what guitar there is doesn’t riff so much as drill its way into the psyche. Those creepy vocals ooze from beyond the thrum and pulse of the track – barely audible but full of impact – it’s like being trapped in a speeding car with a particularly vicious imp constantly commenting about the wheel bearings being knackered.

Thaleia’s Neurasthenia is a much calmer affair with little in the way of moody guitar interjections. The vocals wrap themselves around a clumsy piano riff like a demonic snake with asthma and an apple for sale – all threat and full of forbidden promise. If Andy Weatherall were to make an ambient Black Metal version of Haunted Dancehall, it’d sound a little like this.

Requiem For The Three Kharites is as dense as it is inventive, and plays to its composer’s strengths wonderfully. While its funereal pace and tone appears to suggest a lack of hope, there are enough graceful moments here to suggest that the three Kharites won’t need another requiem anytime soon.

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YRSEL – Requiem For The Three Kharites

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