|Album Rating: A|
And in Weissman there is no man more suited for shepherding in this change. Having matured slightly since his debut LP under the Desolate moniker, Celestial Light Beings sees him incorporate a much wider range of orchestral and ambient influences into his previously quite conservative sound. No longer simply content with replication, this young fledgling has at last left the safety of the nest created by his contemporaries and begun to make the genre his own; no doubt that this is partially due to being gracefully labelled “Burial 2011” by journalists who should probably know better. As a result, the evolution of Desolate’s sound is one that Weissman has accelerated: the contrast between Desolate’s two LPs being far greater than one would expect for a man still so obviously eager to experiment with the genre. For starters, he may have inadvertently followed Burial’s descent into much more bittersweet, darkened material. The range between minimalist dubstep percussion peppered with select field samples and fully fleshed out, dramatic orchestral movements has been extended hugely; in dynamics at least. With a broad movement from one end of the spectrum to the other, the opener “Ambrosia” embodies the former and most of what follows exhibit various stages of matrimony between the two polar opposites.
The overall effect is that familiar mix of cold, distant percussion and considerable more vibrant string and vocal tracks, though surprisingly an unfamiliar personality shines through here. While being a man obsessed with giving every part of a track its own space, so embodying many of the values of minimalism, Weissman rarely shies away from indulging in a little bit of artistic flair. Fans of his previous LP will note that the beat-less, mournful “Farewell’s” make a reappearance in Celestial Light Beings, which, although being quite isolated in the first attempt, sink in to the tone of the album much more effectively this time. Their soporific, sorrowful mood often overlapping into the tracks surrounding them. It’s the pattern of the album to switch between downtrodden and more outspokenly emotional, with “Farewell #3” and #4 acting as nodes for the remainder of the album to fluctuate from, and it isn’t until the final track that this cycle is broken. Compared to the rest of the album, “Exclusion of Light” is free: unshackled as it is by the restraints of modesty and coyness it soars to levels of emotional indulgence unheard of by the tracks preceding it. With an astronomical tone to fit, this final flourish of electronic wizardry is just an ever so subtle hint that Weissman is capable of so much more. A fervent glimpse into the future of Desolate.
Despite being as consistently brilliant as it is, there are certainly tracks that stand out in Celestial Light Beings. Whilst being somewhat unimaginatively titled, “Se7en” is morosely understated, with only a handful of strings to bridge the silence between drum loops. The shortage of vocal samples is noticeable - Weissman’s often fond of interchanging garage vocals with more angelic hums - but they don’t seem to be needed so much. In their place a gentle, yet piercing, violin descends over sombre cello notes. Simple and haunting, though nevertheless a masterstroke, this very subtle and still powerful experimentation is what ascends Desolate above the majority of his peers. “Desolation” demonstrates Weissman’s breadth by doing the opposite and featuring little but drums, piano and vocals. The discrete tone is still present, however; this is emotional music but it doesn’t welcome so easily. Most of all, it’s the perfect handling of the quiet things which makes “Desolation” so powerful and, over time, so beautiful. The incredibly faint bass; the constant changes of pitch in the static... in many ways, it’s almost apologetic. A conflicting sentiment for an artist with such an internal nature. In the end, it’s this introversion that gives Celestial Light Beings most of its force, and what places Desolate so firmly amongst the handful of great artists in a movement barely beyond its infancy. Experimental with the gentle hand of someone who knows that what they’re dealing with is infinitely precious; ready to be distilled into great mass of musical history.
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3. Teariness of Lemnia
4. Farewell #3
9. Farewell #4
10. Exclusion of Light