Atmospheric Combination of Electronic, Post-Rock and Black Metal
Night of Your Ascension is the 4th album by Wrekmeister Harmonies, a Chicago based experimental music collective led by JR Robinson. It is their 3rd release on the Thrill Jockey label, which feels like the perfect home for this project, having also released albums by Tortoise, with whom they share some very positive similarities, and by black metal artists such as Liturgy. The music feels like a combination of these two styles, combining artful ambient sections with heavier black metal influenced riffs, held together by a seamless, post-rock influenced sense of composition and nicely detailed production. They have gained some notoriety for bringing metal artists to unconventional venues such Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, which seems appropriate, given their highly artistic take on the genre.
The album is composed of two tracks: “Night of Your Ascension,” which clocks in around 32 minutes, and “Run Priest, Run” which is about half as long. Both tracks follow a form common to the project, beginning with slow, shifting ambience that gradually builds into a heavy, metal-influenced middle section, a structure they use to great effect. The ambient sections are adorned with intelligent detail and feature a beautiful, clear production quality that allows the nuances to really shine through, as well as contributing to the monumental, grandiose feeling of the record. The metal riffs are in turn pleasantly simple, which is important in that it lends an organic feel to their presence, an attribute which is extremely important to the album’s success and which might be lost had they been more explicitly technical. One gets the feeling the music is being created in a very large space, and that it is coming together almost of it’s own accord, rather than the parts being play by individual humans. Vocals are also handled nicely during these heavier sections, finding a good middle ground between the low fidelity of most black metal and the general high fidelity feeling of the record.
Overall the album is quite enjoyable. There are a lot of nice moments to find, be it the slight darkening of the harmony and the introduction of soft modular noise that foreshadows the entrance of the metal section on “Night of Your Ascension” or the beautiful interaction of feedback with pad textures on the outro of “Run Priest, Run.” The album is an excellent example of successfully combining genres and contains a wealth of subtlety that allows it to stand up to repeated listens.