Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM
Few bands show the artistic imagination and freedom of My Silent Wake, a band so committed to doing things their way that they cut paths never trodden before.
It’s in the celebration of freedom from the constraints of what everyone else is doing that defines the band and makes each successive project so intriguing and listenable.
With each new release, the only thing for certain is that the material will be of sky-high quality and intelligent but never arch or knowingly obtuse.
With a formidable work rate of eleven albums in fifteen years, the quintet are certainly no slouches with their productivity, the inspiration seemingly flowing through them, an ever-moving feast.
This latest album is certainly something that steps out of the expected, taking you on a journey through time starting in the Medieval and them working slowly forwards.
From the haunting opening piano strains of ‘An Affectionate Remembrance’ you’re immediately pulled into a world of absolute wonder. The album title translates to ‘Loss Throughout The Ages’ and is very much centered on that theme as the mainly acoustic ambiance adds layer upon layer of atmosphere, vocals coming in to accentuate the mood from the growled earthy voices of ‘Warhawks’ to the heavenly choirs of ‘Arfryn’.
There is an unsettling quality about the music as it ebbs and flows with the waves of sound that wash over the listener, at once soothing but also deeply searching and involving.
There is a rose tinted patina to our thoughts of the medieval era at times, visions of mist shrouded glades, imposing castles and dashing knights, swathed in armour and certainly there are moments of that romanticism here but also a more earthy realism that juxtaposes breaks through into this.
Don’t be mistaken, this is no album created purely to act as a soundtrack for a reenactment pageant but one that brings in elements of the ancient but brings these into a melting pot as brave and compelling as anything Peter Gabriel has released.
From the epic ‘Of Loss and Regret’ to the plaintive ‘Fall in the Sea Again’ and onto the dark and wonderfully twisted and twisting ‘To Feel the Caress of Long-Dead Lovers’ each track moves deeper into the psyche.
There is the sense of moving through an ever-changing landscape, shapes and colours shifting as you make your way through each new vista.
Shadows wrestle with blazing light, dark tendrils reaching out only to be scorched and banished as bright colours illuminate its ever-retreating edges. Fifteen tracks, fifteen journeys into the unknown, each fully enveloping and then absorbing the listener.
Closing on the stately and elegiac ‘Berceuse’, this last track perfectly balances the beautiful shimmering tones with a burst of pomp that fades into a gentle goodbye, encapsulating just why this album is so compelling.
A genuinely breathtaking exercise and exploration into what can be done with music and emotional tone, My Silent Wake have produced the album of their career thus far.