Published Oct 26, 2016Chances are that if you're familiar with Urfaust, you're a fan. It's hard not to be.
The first time I stumbled across Geist ist Teufel, I was hooked instantly by the perfected rawness of the music, matched by the exuberant vocals of IX. The heterogeneous smack of punk aesthetic and mid-paced black metal delivery made an ideal middle space for IX's vocals, undoubtedly one of the most original and emotive vocalists in contemporary music.
Since that release, the ever-creative duo have released numerous EPs and splits, and have now released their fourth LP, Empty Space Meditation. In addition to their ambient output, they've gradually incorporated more keyboards and slower tempos into their sound, transforming their primitive attack into doom-infused ceremonies. This stylistic shift demonstrates Urfaust's reluctance to atrophy, and, even better, complements IX's vocals just as fittingly as their rougher tunes.
They do not forego all avenues of speed, however; after the compelling ambient opener "Meditatum I," which has plenty of navigable subterranean sounds beneath the initial layer, "Meditatum II" cuts in with extended blast-beats saturated in astral synth. It then transitions into a controlled mid-paced canter, with IX floating atop it all, delivering some of his most powerful singing on the album.
"Meditatum III" and "IV" are the most plodding of the non-ambient tracks here, very much akin to some of their previous work displayed on Der freiwillige Bettler. If you're hoping to be swept up in catchy melodies or technicality, this is not Urfaust's intention here. Rather, these are midnight hymns that slowly percolate through the damp walls of your consciousness, preparing you for the penultimate "Meditatum V," which pulls you out of dank suspension with a post-punk-esque foot stomper. The finale is a seven-minute mystic progression that sees Urfaust's doom proclivities confront Sun City Girls-esque modes, to wrap up the entire journey of cosmo-stasis.
Empty Space Meditation might not be groundbreaking, but it's a sincere effort that shows Urfaust's continued strength and merit. (Ván Records)