Raison d’Être Requiem for Abandoned Souls

[Cold Meat Industry; 2003]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: dark ambient, Scandinavian darkwave, post-industrial
Others: Lustmord, Troum, Shinjuku Thief, Daniel Menche

Cold Meat Industry's Peter Andersson is one of the most prolific artists on the Swedish label, if not in the entire dark ambient genre altogether. Andersson's newest release, Requiem for Abandoned Souls, which he recorded as his solo project Raison d'Être, is the most recent addition to the label's catalogue and is a fine contribution to the genre as a whole: beautiful, nightmarish, and heavily atmospheric. Although the dark ambient genre can often seem as if it's filled with amateurs who assemble their music based on a few dubious samples and some "scary" sounding keyboard melodies, Raison d'Être's music is truly ominous, suspenseful, and chill-inducing; and it's absolutely not amateurish in any way, shape, or form.

This funereal record begins, appropriately enough, with the tolling of church bells. The bells slowly fade out, and the darkness falls upon the listener like a shroud of heavy fog, with lumbering creatures shambling about in the depths. Historically, the effectiveness of Raison d'Être's music has involved Andersson's ability to create tension. Requiem's third track, "Disintegrates from Within," is perhaps the best example on the record of this buildup of tension. Metallic scrapings, dripping water, and cavernous echoes are augmented by the gradual implementation of haunted-sounding synth pads and ghostly chants and moans.

Raison d'Être have always utilized the juxtaposition of found sound samples and synthesizers in their music. It adds to the dark soundtrack-like effect of this music upon the listener. Requiem for Abandoned Souls would be appropriate as the score to a horror film involving someone exploring (or perhaps trapped in) an ancient, medieval crypt. The gothic, pseudo-Gregorian chants contribute to the archaic atmosphere of oppression and decay. "Towards Desolation" is a slowly progressing epic of a song replete with organ, gong, and some vaguely Eastern-tinged choral vocals. This is perhaps one of the most cinematic and dramatic pieces on the album and demonstrates Andersson's ability to force the listener to introspectively examine the music.

Absent from the album is the percussion that was present on Raison d'Être's early efforts such as Prospectus I and Within the realm of Silence and Phormations. This time around, Andersson opts to create soundscapes that are devoid of rhythm, letting the listener float randomly upon the waves of sound rather than being carried in an inevitable direction by the post-industrial beatscapes of his previous work. In fact, "Becoming the Void of Nothingness" is reminiscent of some of the eerie classical pieces by Krzysztof Penderecki that were used in Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film The Shining. You can almost visualize the images from the steadicam moving through the labyrinthine corridors of an old, haunted hotel while listening to this track. It gradually becomes more chaotic and more tense with the addition of jagged washes of feedback and the ringing of cymbals, until it gradually fades away the concludes the album. I'd say Cold Meat Industry scores again with another landmark record by one of their flagship artists.

1. In Abandoned Places
2. The Shadow of the Soul
3. Disintegrates from Within
4. Towards Desolation
5. Becoming the Void of Nothingness