In January 2011 we shared the great news of the release of LeVant’s “Beyond the Masque of Eden” with Deadscarletrecords; intuiting that it is a great album and being convinced so by the album trailer (watch here). It was no surprise, then, to discover a great audio experience in the album of the self-entitled “contemporary electro-mystique music project” LeVant, and to feel proud of our Romanian roots and cultural heritage.
George D. Stanciulescu’s compositions included on “Beyond the Masque of Eden” are a fascinating voyage, one that appeals to the ear that is accustomed to darkwave and electronica, and that is redolent at moments of great composition of dark cross-genres, from Rasputina to Diary of Dreams, and from This Mortal Coil to In Strict Confidence – in a flow of sound that leaves you no alternative but to pick up and carry on the majestic and thoroughly intellectual tracks.
The interferences above, however plausible in a contemporary exchange of permeating cultures, do not actually add up to being influences. LeVant’s sound stands out and flows in an original manner, from the first to the last track of the album. In addition to the sound, song names that are tell-tale of esoteric pursuits, of a mystical frame of mind are there like labels on jars of diverse concoctions or of suave perfumes thought up by a savant perfumer. The song that opens, and shuts sealed closed the album, namely “Communion” (“Prelude” and “Postludium”) is about spiritual inspiration, a great way to start off and conclude what lies “Beyond the Masque of Eden”.
The ethereal, yet substantial sound of this composition is further enhanced by “Herbsttag”, a melancholic, lingering and yielding track that deploys a great deal of orchestrated ambient and power, with scattered and juxtaposed lyrics taken from the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. A very intellectual track, it does not promise something it cannot deliver; the ensuing track “Through Heaven’s Grace” with choral interludes and a very compelling sound, which deserves to be singled out from the album as a very promising composition, and giving a direction worth exploring in the music of this genre.
“SyMatrix” and “Le Rouge Dans Ta Vie” play with the same arsenal as their tracks of before, adding escalating keyboards, minimal movie-like monologue and a very flagrant tension to the set of stylistic contraptions resorted to give shape to the album. If Rilke’s powerful words take the floor in ‘Herbsttag”, it is time for Edgar Allan Poe to be quoted in “Le Rouge Dans Ta Vie” and usher in with the less known poem “Alone” a sort of genesis of the feeling of standing alone, and being different, a common locus of musings on the condition of the artist through the ages. Cadenced speech, choral effusion, and even sounds redolent of the call to prayer of a muezzin all figure out a delicate geography and a very inviting atmosphere.
“Within Chimeras”, despite its English title, is the only track of the compilation that carries on a message in Romanian, voiced via the verse of the Romanian poet Mihai Beniuc. The poetry is accompanied by an elegiac score that undermines and at the same time consolidates the texture of the song. “And if”, a track that sets a quicker pace, provokes the same effect as kaleidoscopes filled with glass, through the lenses of which children admire the apparent harmony of the world. The pace is further bedecked with choral imprecations that bring to mind at the same time religious procession and country-style carousing.
What “Saint Angst” brings is cascading sound that canvasses around Bene Gesserit’s litany against fear. The universe of “Dune” is a very fertile one to back up the dichotomy of fear and plenitude, and to show how far we have gone in contemporary thought to sanctify fear and how, via Frank Herbert’s clique of mental programmers, our efforts should be not vain and when combating fear. The labyrinth-like play with literary message juxtaposed with music continues with “Faustian Skies”, a tensioned track that delicately spins the yarn of visionary poet Dino Campana’s “Poesia Semplice”, a seesaw of life and death hung between strong poles of antagonistic nature landscape and human volition. “The Sex, the Penance, the Dissent” creates the same intellectual, well-studied effect that does well both in the quietude of one’s home and yields atmosphere in a club; as the last track of the debut album from LeVant, it can be thought of a well-studied and controlled mash-up of the entire album: the same pervasive feelings, powerful vocals and determined line define the track.
LeVant’s “Beyond the Masque of Eden” offers a lot more than you would expect from a debut album; it comes from a geography that needs to stake more in order to be recognized on the map of darkwave, but at the same time does not diverge from familiar geographies, since the vein of German darkwave is present to a large extent. In composition, “Beyond the Masque of Eden” is classical, in that it follows recognized harmonies, but novel in its juxtaposition of cultural contexts, religious beliefs and practices and contemporary feelings.
Tracklist:1. Communion Prelude 2. Herbsttag 3. Through Heaven’s Grace 4. SyMatrix 5. Le Rouge Dans Ta Vie 6. Within Chimeras 7. And If 8. Saint Angst 9. Faustian Skies 10. The Sex, the Penance, the Dissent 11. Postludium: Communion (reprise)
George D. Stanciulescu – composer, producer, orchestrations/arrangements, electronic devices, synthesizers
Alexandra Damian – mezzo-soprano
Ilinca Olteanu – soprano
Maria Paduraru – soprano
Mihai Mahalu – guitars