Lustre


(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
Night Spirit (2009), 6/10
A Glimpse of Glory (2010), 5/10
They Awoke to the Scent of Spring (2012), 6.5/10
Wonder (2013), 5/10
Blossom (2015), 7/10
Still Innocence (2017), 6/10
Ashes of Light (2020), 6.5/10
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The fate of Lustre, the project of Sweden's multi-instrumentalist Henrik "Nachtzeit" Sunding, was sealed by the debut EP, Serenity (2008). The 14-minute The Light of Eternity consists in the piano repeating a simple melodic figure over a bed of guitar distortion while the vocals growl desperate syllables in the vein of black metal. The seven-minute Waves of the Worn simply unfolds cosmic waves of synthesizer. This would remain the method of Lustre, at the intersection of ambient music and black metal. Detractors would argue that Lustre simply repeated that song for the following 12 years.

Night Spirit (2009) contains only two untitled compositions. The first one (21 minutes), after four minutes of torrential guitar riffs, unwinds a memorable piano melody, accented by a stately distorted guitar melody, and the demonic growl only appears for a few seconds, but appropriately dominates the ending. The pace is certainly not the pace of black metal. In fact, it borders on funeral doom. Unfortunately the second part (20 minutes) is almost an identical copy.

A Glimpse of Glory (2010) introduced a bit more complexity, but the results are mixed. This Mighty Sight (16:06) opens with symphonic keyboards, but after six minutes the agonizing vocals erupt, and after nine minutes the whole disintegrates, but only to restart as a piano-driven elegy. Repetition is a key element of Lustre's music, but in a pastoral piece like Amongst the Trees (13:06), with chirping birds and harp-like strumming, it quickly becomes tedious.

They Awoke to the Scent of Spring (2012) is conceptually two albums in one. The first two songs are similar and contains some elements of black metal, whereas the other two belong to a different kind of music altogether. A monumental guitar riff, coupled with a death rattle, opens Part 1 (12:52). Then the guitar riff becomes a lulling melody, replaced after eight minutes by the typical piano melody. Part 2 (11:04) blends a solemn guitar motif and martial drums, keeping the death rattle for the melodramatic end. The other two parts are moody instrumentals: the guitar intones a simple tiptoeing melancholy folk motif in Part 3 (8:22), and Part 4 (7:56) blends the sound of rain and oneiric guitar tones, and shuns the drums.

Wonder (2013) is a transitional work, as shows by Moonlit Meadow (9:34), in which robust guitar drones, hoarse growls and baroque piano figure coexist. It's the latter that matter. Green Worlds (9:10) even throws in harpsichord-like chords amid louder guitar noise. Alas, thanks to a frantic techno beat, A Summer Night (8:51) is almost for the dancefloor. Petrichor (9:42) is a repetition of the ideas of the first two pieces.

From a purely melodic viewpoint, Lustre's zenith was probably Blossom (2015), which abandons vocals altogether. The solemn Part 1 sets the tone with massive shoegazing guitar and a piano carillon. Part 2 sets in motion a soaring, angelic melody in a manner that evokes a religious chant played on a church organ. Stormy guitar riffs interfere a couple of times in Part 3, but the show still mostly belongs to the crisp keyboards. The pastoral closer, Part 4, where the keyboards are played in a flute-like register, is even less related to black metal.

The spiritual element is ever more prominent on Still Innocence (2017), a largely instrumental album. Indeed, the repeated carillon of the nine-minute Nestle Within radiates childish innocence, given that the growls of black metal have all but disappeared. The grandiose atmosphere of the ten-minute Reverence Road is due to the thick guitar distortion that shrouds the lulling flute-like melody.

The guitar is mostly absent from Ashes of Light (2020) but the growl returns, albeit with an existential bent. the melodies are even more recognizably falling in the new-age tradition. At best, they conjure visions of infinite melancholy and loneliness, adrift in hostile landscapes. Such is the case of Eyes Like Stars (10:02), an impeccable balance of moving electronic melody and werewolf growls. Waves of melodic tenderness emanate from A Silent Tale (7:04). The problem remains how to introduce some movement in these largely static frescoes. Hence, five minutes into Like Music in the Night (9:43), a song that until then has mainly been notable for slightly more visceral howls, a majestic tone breaks the monotonous repetition and soon after battling synths lead it to an emphatic ending; and martial tempo and even military drum rolls are employed for another soaring melody, The Ashes of Light (8:29).

(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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