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Kleistwahr - In The Reign Of Dying Embers

Kleistwahr is the solo project of Gary Mundy of Ramleh. Kleistwahr's origins stretch back to the early years of Broken Flag and in recent years it has become his outlet for more personal recordings that don't fit the group dynamic. 'Bleak psychedelia' is the term most often used to describe Ramleh and it's one that kinda still fits here. Noise may be the focus of the electronic Ramleh, but it is their "rock" formation which provides them with the conduit to express their thoughts and feelings in their lyrical concerns, even though the meaning may be lost within their sound. Richard Johnson's excellent Grudge For Life biography of sorts allowed the group to elaborate on the meanings behind their songs and it was enlightening to gain an insight into the ideas and feelings which seep into their music. Kleistwahr seems to act as an outlet for Gary Mundy's frustration with the current state of the world, and it's clear Mundy is an astute political observer who feels things could be better. If Ramleh seem locked into a sense of despair, standing on the edge railing into the void then Kleistwahr offer an outlet for hope and defiance.

Their latest release In The Reign Of Dying Embers arrives on the back of some five or six albums released since The World Is Not My Home in 2014. It's an impressive schedule possibly fuelled by the ignominies of the current political climate - and there's little let-up in terms of quality with the latest. Its cover design continues the renowned Broken Flag iconography, where a quote within the sleeve reads "Tonight we're laughing, We know why we're awake, Tomorrow all will be lost, So for now let's raise a glass". It sounds more like a drinking toast, a reflection of the escapism we all seek from the constant turbulent times we're living in.

You're immediately sucked into a dim howl on the opening 'So Harsh The Moon'. It's a vortex of sound littered with tiny details ringing, scraping and screeching, remnants of sounds as if scraped from the edge. Muffled hollers billow from the lower depths. An impassioned cry from the depths of hell. It is claustrophobic, as if everything is being played out in a tunnel, lightless with no escape. This could represent the constant bickering of opposing sides, the barrage of competing voices fighting to be heard over each other. Each cancelling each other out in a fug of entrenched opinions. It's this stalemate which may lead to apathy and disillusionment leading many of us to seek escapism in drink and drugs to dull this deluge.

Kleistwahr have gone well beyond their noise origins into something more intricate with a surprising and interesting palette of sound sources. The sombre 'Requiem For The Fallen' casts melodic organ chimes draped amidst free-falling effects and scattered guitar mannerisms. Sure it's discordant but there's a beauty amidst the curious amalgamation of its moody score. Layers of sustained drone and hum worm their way underneath 'Nights Of Grape And Grain', a direct reference to alcohol, the substance of choice which many seek solace in. But it is the surface layers which make this so effective. Disembodied organ chime and a series of loose wayward noise cycles edge this onwards over a lowend pulse, set so damn low you can feel it. Mundy's vocal is wracked, broken and despondent as it slips further into drone and distended guitar atmospherics.

'Save Me' is surprising for several reasons. For one, it features a primitive rhythm to the usually beatless Kleistwahr and for another it sounds distinctly Ramleh-esque with a skeletal and stark rendering reduced to a clanking rhythmic cut, spliced with electronic noise shivers and waves of guitar squall. When Mundy's voice surfaces it appears bleary and slurred surrounded by distorted bass tones and slices of noise cuts. Surprisingly, and I'm not trying to be mean here but set amidst the subtle emotive saturations of the other tracks it's the least fulfilling of the Kleistwahr's tracks here. That point is further underscored by the following track 'A Rain Of Dying Embers' which conveys sadness shrouding Mundy's wails in graceful synths, gothic organ and arcs of guitar ambience as it seeks out to find a sense of solace. It's a great track filled with spiritual longing, as does the final track, 'In Memory Of Higher Times', which in many ways surprises me more since it is created by an artist usually associated with noise and abrasion.

Ramleh are renowned for hitting the heights of transcendence in their blistering guitar formation and the lengthy closing track 'In Memory Of Higher Times', inhabiting an atmospheric dreamspace with an ululating ethereal presence, attains a similar result by alternate means. A blissed out hymn enveloped in shimmering layers. It appears Gary Mundy has enlisted angels to perform harpsichord to soundtrack an uneasy drug dream.

In The Reign Of Dying Embers is saturated in emotion, laced with subtle nuances, and mired in despair and despondency. Any attainment of hope remains fragile and captured in the albums most beguiling moments. Let's be clear though, there's little noise to be found on In The Reign Of Dying Embers when compared to recent previous Kleistwahr releases. Its effect is just as powerful as what Gary Mundy does in Kleistwahr is strangely alluring and In The Reign Of Dying Embers is a deeply satisfying album showing a different, more personal side to the Ramleh founder. In The Reign Of Dying Embers is available digitally from Kleistwahr Bandcamp and as a limited CD from Fourth Dimension Records