Album Review: Gultskra Artikler – Galaktika

I think the fact that I knew so little about Gultskra Artikler prior to hearing this release contributed heavily to my enjoyment of it. Galaktika seems to work best when free from any prior knowledge of its conception or its creator, turning the whole experience into an intrepid exploration without any preconception of what lies up ahead.

The opening title track begins as a steady ascension away from a world of content. A hovering tremolo glides over deep synth drones that urge Galaktika boldly away from home. A hideous vocal moan breathes unease over the landscape, leading appropriately into the twisted and unsettling environment ahead. Most unnerving about the listening experience is the sense of being lost – once the second piece “Solnce” fades up, Galaktika is quick to whisk you deep into its murky black atmosphere, horrendously claustrophobic and disorientating right up until its closing stages.

That said, occasionally the album feels almost too clogged with sound – noises and drones and voices utterly smother the field at points and completely drive out any sense of space. “Saturn” and “Luna” are particularly prominent culprits. So relentless is the attack on the ears that it becomes difficult to pick out a point of focus, at which point the cold, dark mystique drowns beneath incoherence and disarray. Thankfully, “Sputnik” recovers the situation with a chilling pad progression and earthly sub-sonic rumbles, quickly re-establishing what the first three sections constructed so carefully.

Closing track “Angel” is far from what its title may suggest, with choral voices hideously warped by the winds, beauty smeared into a horrible fog. Delicate strings rise up to counter-act the unease and swamp it with glorious resolve, yet the fade-out cuts this process short, offering only an implied arrival at a destination of utopian content. It’s a perfect ending, with the fleeting sign of a return to homely familiarity snatched away in the last few moments of its existence.

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