The album opens with some weary strings, suffused in vinyl crackle and distortion, while strange noises rumble in the shadows behind. We are unmistakeably back once again deep into Miasmah territory. Erik Skodvin’s label of haunted cinematics reaches its own horror movie landmark with its thirteenth release: Swedish composer Marcus Fjellstrom following up his excellent work for the Lampse label (albums Exercises In Restraint and Gebrauchsmusik). This is such a quintessential Miasmah release, hell it is even called Schattenspieler, which translates as “Shadowplayer”, making you wonder whether knowledge of the label this was to be released on had an influence on what Fjellstrom put in it.
For taken as a whole this sounds even darker than Fjellstrom’s previous work. Like Kreng’s Miasmah release (L’Autopsie Phenomenal De Dieu), this mixes soundtracks to movies both real and imagined, but is nightmarishly evocative at all times. That opening track “The Disjointed” sounds like the soundtrack to a ship going down; it is hard to hear its slow, degrading, repeated string loops, muffled explosions and diffuse ambience without being reminded of Gavin Bryars’s The Sinking Of The Titanic, especially the magnificent recent version which featured Philip Jeck. Such bleak visions abound; the eerie synth pulse amongst the drones and smashing glass of “Antichrist Architecture Management” (although, somewhat amusingly and mood-shatteringly, it seems to be called “Antichris Architecture management” on my iTunes), becomes a downbeat kosmische rendering of a city destroyed, alarms all ablaze. A four track run on the album’s second side was originally composed for a film by Bernd Behr called House Without A Door – and if this twenty minute suite is anything to go by, the film may be too intense and claustrophobic for the weak-hearted likes of me. Melodies and orchestral progressions are slashed by metal objects and buried under piles of static, so deep that little light can penetrate.
Thankfully, it doesn’t leave you there. In fact it takes you back to almost where you began, with the crackling vinyl and shadowy half-melodies of “Uncanny Valleys”, everything you’ve just endured fading away like the remnants of dreams.