Rites of Fall - Towards the Blackest Skies - Leidforschung

I’ve had Rites of Fall’s debut album Towards the Blackest Skies on repeat since it arrived, each pass revealing another layer, another texture, another mood. I miss music that makes you want to sit and listen again and again without multitasking, without distraction. Polish musician Bartek Kuszewski’s dark ambient electronica will command such attention. Noted as music that aims to “dissolve boundaries between past and future musical traditions,” Rites of Fall traverses sonic landscapes as though on a pilgrimage or crusade. “Afterflesh” opens the album with a symphonic energy that feels like walking headlong into something big and ominous. “Void Instinct” is distant and unsettled, with metallic flashes arcing and jumping like powerlines that have gone down in a storm while synths drive it towards something brighter just on the horizon. Always that horizon. “Continuum” uses texture to disorient and reconfigure until creating a steady rhythm. “From the Ashes, From the Dust” finds its footing in ancient drones and then strides into its own territory. “The Torch” is menacing and noise-driven, with angry growls and wails culminating in sharp and angled rage. “Expand and Collapse” shapes itself through choir-like repetition, with brighter synths hovering until a steady alarm is set off in warning. “Towards the Blackest Skies” rumbles with static and writhes with portent. A favorite track is the closing “The World Will Die, but We Will Live Forever,” a piece that gorgeously accretes and expands into something solid, a promontory that allows the listener to cross over to new [or old, forgotten] land. Towards the Blackest Skies is dirge-like and life-affirming at the same time, an album whose strata of evolution, mutability, and time you'll want to excavate and spend time with. - Em Maslich