When I first started reading about Dirge I felt a complete dissonance with what I was hearing: these French guys all clad in black like a regular post-metal band were playing music that reminded me of the golden age of heavy psychedelic post-rock in the deft hands of Maserati and early Russian Circles. Alma | Baltica is a continuation of that kind of sound, full of reverb, of thick electronic modulations and ambient soundscapes that project the mind into a kind of spatial exploration of emotions.
The two poles that drive the album, “Alma”, and “Baltica (Sine Time Reoscillated)”, which are the first and second to last tracks respectively, establish a pulling dynamic between heaviness and brightness, like the clarity that emerges after storms. Alma, which in Spanish means ‘soul’ and comes from the Latin adjective ‘nourishing’, provides an arguably darker experience, the storm itself making its ample fury echo throughout the landscape. Baltica, which could stand for the ancient Paleozoic continent that now constitutes the East European part of Eurasia, holds a lighter gravity to its pull, the vastness of a horizon quieted down after a time of rain and lightning. There’s much more riffing in Alma, always underscored by electronics that create an uncertain, noisy background, while the guitars cede into the back as Baltica highlights the definition and clarity of the electronics.
The flow of the album balances quite well this distinction between the individual presence of riffs and the masses drawn by the electronics, seamlessly transitioning from to the other not only as distinct sound presences, but also as sounds that merge into one another. This is why the band’s sound is characteristically thick, as these movements are handled through texture and volume instead of the linearity of a melody (or even a straightforward riff); the pace is therefore slow and not always incremental, following a psychedelic path in which harmony and the extension of sounds, drone-like repetition and the echo of reverb build a seemingly enormous space for the mind to lose itself in.
If you miss the kind of music that bands like Maserati, Russian Circles, and maybe even Rosetta used to make, then you’ll probably dig Dirge’s brand of heavy, psychedelic sound. (David Murrieta)