Avantgarde Music are responsible for a number of established talents in Europe, this includes the well respected Darkspace. The record label has catered to many different bands, from many different backgrounds, but never before have we encountered such a strange entity as Darkspace, the cliché loving wall-of-noise band from Switzerland. At times, one can truly image Darkspace playing on top of the Alps, during a wintry blizzard of ice and snow. Though I have referred to Darkspace as clichéd, this doesn’t specifically relate to their cosmic sound in terms of the actual constructions of their songs, but instead the way in which the band chooses to interpret their themes with the chaotic wall-of-noise depiction that has been used within the scene before by bands like Velvet Cacoon, with an ominous out-of-this-world vibe. Ironically, and probably obviously, the bands lyrical themes revolve around the concept of space and infinity, which is incredibly apt given the textures of the songs. I wouldn’t necessarily refer to Darkspace as an influential band. As of yet, I haven’t come across many bands, if any, that resemble Darkspace an awful lot. Their style is innovative, whilst maintaining a sense of loyalty to the traditions that the genre of black metal is based on. Avantgarde Music should be treated as a key label in the rise of black metal - with ties to bands like Diabolical Masquerade and Carpathian Full Moon, the label has a keen eye for exposing a number of today’s legends.
For example, the tremolo effect. The guitars use standard repetition to give a feel of infinite space and a timelessness that can only be felt when repetition is heavily involved in the atmospherics of a record. Darkspace are a band with talented musicians. Despite the first impressions, which were incredibly bad, the band contain more depth than most people would give them credit for. On first hearing, Darkspace are a chaotic mess. A headache inducing, lo-fi loving, corrupt entity with a compulsive disorder that conditions their songs to be far too long, far too repetitive and far too tedious given the fuzzy nature of the distortion. It is only until you truly digest the bands content that one understands the inner and outer workings of this band who are as fragile as a gem stone. With unlimited supplies of atmosphere, Darkspace seem to conduct themselves in a fairly formulaic manner, but this is not the case. Though the production may sound irritating on first hearing, it does grow to be like vines. It entwines itself with our soul, helping us soar above the clouds and into the sky, into the infinite abyss that is space. This elevating record is strangely uplifting.
The content isn’t particularly “happy” or “jovial”, but it does contain a certain mesmerising feel that brings on a drug like experience that can be equated to euphoria. Although this record does suffer from a few slight problems, the overall opinion is positive and is definitely swayed towards that direction by some utterly mellifluous sections that lay hidden beneath the haze and mist of the soundscapes. Take the definitive Darkspace song from the debut, entitled ‘Dark Space I’. Its called ‘Dark 1.4’ and has the most surreal soundscapes I have probably ever encountered whilst listening to black metal. Wroth, the bands front man who supplies his vocal talents and expertise on guitars, seems to be the central figurehead behind much of the music. His introspective delving into ambient music with his other band, Paysage D’Hiver, is pivotal to this band and is shown in the multi-layered features of this record. It would appear that Darkspace use a keyboard section, or perhaps synths - though this is never actually indicated as a matter of fact - due to the sufficient amounts of background material that cause a rumbling set of symphonies to pop up out of the blackness that is the soundscapes.
These keyboard sections are consistently used throughout and portray to the listener a sense of being lost in space, a truly terrifying thought. There is, undoubtedly, an evil presence behind much of the textures. The palm-muted material, the suppressing vocals with their eerie rasping feel and the hypnotic sensations we’re confronted with add up to something special, something so surreal that it would take a lifetime to truly decipher the meaning behind this record, that seems to stretch into the distance, given the long nature of the songs, as if it were reaching out to the sky and pulling it down, suffocating us with the decreasing sense of personal space and choking us with the claustrophobic feel the soundscapes provide, despite being situated in the middle of space. Much of the material reminds me of your classic horror/sci-fi hybrid movies such as Alien, with the appropriate tagline, “In Space no one can hear you scream.” As one of the samples states, all of which are seemingly taken from the iconic and influential movie by Stanley Kubrick, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, “… There is only the darkness.” This menacing sample, accompanied by the incredibly furious double bass work (which is mostly what the percussion is made up of) and the tremolo bass/guitar sections, this ambient reliant piece is multi-dimensional in its approach and is so interesting, despite the often inaccessible nature of the material - given the length of the songs and the unbreakable distortion - that there are many different meanings to this record.
Of course, the joyous thing about music is that, like literature, it is open to interpretation so it can, essentially, mean whatever you want it to mean based on your own, equally justifiable opinions. Personally, this isolationist record screams out a sense of invasion of privacy, opening up the terribleness of society and spilling it out into the world so we truly know that we’re damaging not only ourselves, but everything else we live around. I don’t imagine that this is some sort of politically influenced record - it seems a lot more simplistic than that in essence, but when you tear away the layers, the base is complex and has a multitude of possible meanings that it can never truly be deciphered unless it was laid down to us, point by point, as to what the meaning is behind this space inspired record from the bands members themselves. As for those niggling problems I mentioned earlier, there is a feeling that the distortion and the production does limit the effects of the bass - which is entirely expected - and that the songs are far too long. These aspects do increase the levels of inaccessibility, but overall, this intriguing record deserves a number of plaudits simply for offering something completely different than we’re used to.