The Box with Hope

January 22, 2009 in Darkwave.ro I

Recenzie de: Sorina
In Strict Confidence – ‘Holy’

I define a present as a single-time surprise. While a special present is that breed of gift that contrives astonishment and delight each and every time it interacts with one’s senses, a lifetime.
It belongs to the few. And it is treasured to its full virtue.

One of the special gifts I was given is the Holy limited digibox edition of In Strict Confidence. Given by someone apart, in a key moment of my existence, Holy never ceased to convey me the same intense emotion as when first holding it…listening to it, dreaming on its rhythm, contemplating and touching its stunning artwork…Mature and emotional, the sound, lyrics and image coming in this pack, sinergically succeed to both rapture and emotionally torment the listener, compelling him to reflect upon human condition and emotion, upon dogma and relationship…

Holy means 72:14 minutes of pure electro infernal & celestial bliss. It is the winning choice for the privacy-loving auditorium as well as for the dance floor stompers. Entirely immersed in spiritual and emotional themes, it is still danceable and adrenally consuming. Its themes are authentic, its tint is sensual, its effect is instant. Its production (In Strict Confidence and Olaf Wollschlager) is irreproachable.

The Holy album preserves all the fragrance of dark electro genre, bringing the same time into scene new accents of apocalyptic and anthemic grandeur, with complementary powerful and ethereal voices, and majestic choirs. Valuable guest vocals like Antje Schulz (Chandeen), Nadine Stelzer and Javelin (Moskwa TV) add to the completion of this album. The voices are undistorted contributing in an organic manner to the quality of music and clarity of lyrics.
They complete and blend into each other, creating an interesting effect and bringing complexity to the tracks, especially Eye of Heaven, Seven Lives and Closing Eyes. The sound is huge and crystal clear, combining dark pounding beats with uplifting ambient synth lines.

All lyrics are in English, except Babylon, that is sung in German. The track is solid, with piano tones floating in background and the bassline imposing the rhythm. Babylon, in spite of its ancient and mystery resonance, seems to me a metaphor of the always up-to-date lack of maturity&equilibrium in humankind, its sudden rise and fall seen like essential constituents of its cyclic nature.

To the South American writer, the unrequited loves have the scent of bitter almonds.
To Dennis Ostermann, the deserted loves have the colour of coldness, the consistence of ice and the mute sensation of frozen screams…dark, frosty, without hope, the landscape is monumentally ice-still, allowing you the intuition of life flaring underneath a damper layer of snow, shouting for help in the mutest tone. Both Heal Me and No Love Will Heal are subtle reminders of our own desertion, yearning and emotional excruciation. Intense and consuming, filled with emotional anguish and tumult, there is no better choice if you seek the poetry of pain and human soul.

A song about rejection, Emergency brings a pastel shade apart in the album. Its delicate still playful sound fits perfectly with the suavity in Antje’s voice. It is not often that the misery in love finds such a vaporous yet savoury approach.

If love is a fight, then Another Night is a declaration of war. My favourite on this album, the song is dynamic and voluptuous, making use of brutal harmony, guitar riffs mixed with vivid synth sounds, enliven by Dennis Ostermann’s deep masculine undistorted voice, that brings together with the lyrics a mesmerising touch of sensuality.

If until The Darkest Corridors, the biblical theme seemed to be used only as a metaphor or a “vehicle for worldly matters”, now the author attacks frontally dogma and the pressure&blindness instilled in people by worldly institutions falsely self-proclaiming as keepers of the flame of Truth. Touché!

The album closes with an instrumental atmospheric track, balmly soft and dreamly serene, Alpha Centauri, following an ethereal ambient track that belongs to the same specie as its predecessor Blue Light. Sleepless seems to immerse the listener totally in a timeless moment, expanding and feeding from its own intensity. You all must have been lived that moment…it is when reality near your fallen asleep beloved is too good to be forsaken in the unconsciousness of your own sleep…you perceive that moment, together with its eternity and oneness but all you can do is stay motionless and almost breathless, assured that human forms of expressing are not yet able to paint it…well, false! Look how precise and alive that moment is painted in here. Antje’s vocals and lyrics are taking you out of this world with this track, kidnapping all your senses and emotions for 5 minutes and a half…call it hypnosis at its best. I compare it with meditation, taking you far away of the immediate material reality, making you dive deep into self, just to bring you back refreshed and empowered.

The pack also contains (lucky me!) a bonus instrumental track, Alpha Omega, minimalistically deep and seducing…an audio sculpture, as the artist defines it. The CD support is engraved with the cuneiforms that are the leit motif of the album…retrieved from all over the covers and booklet, they enhance even more the mysterious and esoteric hue of this masterpiece.
There are also a few ISC logo stickers, a considerate gesture of ISC for the impassioned fans.
And several really surprising cards…all of them with hauntingly beautiful illustrations…a bare-breasted nun and images relating to religious icons, that either have ravished the surrendering audience or raised protesting murmurs among conservative or bigoted groups. One thing is sure: this work of art is a statement, either adored or hated, but never ignored. (Concept & realisation by Nathalie Sienko and Dennis Ostermann).

The artwork is unconventional, with the perfectionist’s attention to detail, flustered by existential and controversial questions….upon the definition of sacred, upon the condition of love, upon the evolution of relationships…It is up to the watcher to find the true answers…meantime, the ISC box got unsealed, spreading the world with delicate butterflies, contaminating with colour, freedom and joy. At least this is what the Holy promo pics expose to us.
Butterflies are teaching us transformation, the true joy within the dance of life and seeing the world from a whole new perspective. Therefore, as a Pandora’s antonym, the ISC’s box seems to spread the world with Hope. It was high time to. We were craving for it.

Because, if ISC achieved perfection with this album, I am sure its art will consummate even more in the next ones. Just to abrogate another old preconceived concept: the perfection as absolute superlative.
For In Strict Confidence, perfection is not the aim, but the way.

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