a closer listen

raven ~ the night is dark, the night is silent, the night is bright, the night is loud (exclusive stream)

Thanks to Australia’s Art & Catharsis label, our readers will be the first in the world to be able to hear the new raven album in full!  Our exclusive stream follows the review below.

the night is dark, the night is silent, the night is bright, the night is loud is a post-rock title, but post-rock is only one of many influences on this album.  The title might also draw comparison to a phrase from Game of Thrones, an album by Explosions in the Sky, and a Christmas hymn.  raven (Peter Hollo) likes to keep his listeners guessing, but no matter how far these timbres stray, they return to a base of looped cello ~ often so looped that it comes across as drone.

“lockstep” was a wise decision for the preview track, as it extends an invitation to enter into raven’s world.  The track contains a consistent tempo and and an accessible melody, and is nearly short enough to be a single.  After this, things get creative.  The label makes a lot of artist comparisons in its press release, but we’d rather remind listeners of raven’s last album, New resolution, released nearly five years ago.  In our review, we made two wishes: drop the vocals and the dance beats.  We got our first wish, and while some beats still remain, they are better integrated on the new release.  Perhaps this is due to the fact that the first album was a compilation, while the new release is a suite.  This being said, steady drums are always going to be a hard sell for an artist specializing in another instrument.  When the first note and final glissando ~ the only notes lying outside the electronic boundary of “begin” ~ are the song’s best notes, one wishes the button hadn’t been pressed.  Better to integrate off-kilter drums, emulating the heroes of IDM, as Hollo does on “lugubrious”.  Here the cello’s dark mystery is matched by equally mysterious trespassers.

When we look at raven’s setup, it seems both crowded and lonely.  So many companions strewn about to give commentary in a dark green room.  The impression is primordial, like the music of the womb or the swamp, underlined by the precipitation of “vale”.  This night is dank and humid.  Now we understand the title better, as the cello trolls through a series of nights, with different timbres representing different moods: patient and jazzy, urgent and foreboding.  The album is a primer on what a cello might do when no one is looking, and how raw its notes can become.  “infestation” is the best example.  Imagine an orchestra tuning up before a performance.  Now imagine realizing that this is the performance.

There’s still room for growth, but now it’s more a matter of sequencing than selection.  Cello music is better suited to the dark and loud than the silent and bright; ironically, when Hollo descends to these levels, he soars.  (Richard Allen)