Artist: Procer Veneficus
Album: Saltwater & Glassmoon
Label: Stellar Auditorium
Genre: Drone, Minimalist, Dark Ambient
"Saltwater & Glassmoon" comes in a little cardboard sleeve…the kind that you typically get demos in…with a really overly dark picture of water and the moon. The back contains the track titles and the record label and that’s about it. The dark blue text on black background is not particularly easy to read. The only thing that is cool is that inside the sleeve you get a card with a similar picture of water and cliffs, except the card has a white overlaid image of some kind which actually looks a bit cool. Too bad they didn’t employ this technique on the cover. Unfortunately the card offers no useful information so it’s basically unnecessary. Overall, a very weak package and every time I see it I think it is a demo. This is strange too considering that the rest of the releases on Stellar Auditorium got fairly nice packaging.
At first I thought this album really sucked and Procer just took a 2 minute song and time-stretched it to 50 minutes and called it an album, but upon repeated listens I determined that that assumption is only half correct. It is a work of minimal drone, so it’s basically going to be hella boring (which it is), but at times it is at least a very beautiful boring. Not a whole lot happens in any of the tracks, mostly just the slow dreamy lull of a drone and/or some very quiet pads. Very occasionally there are a few other sounds (water, clanking, the usual dark ambient field recordings), but when there are they blend very nicely with the rest of the track. I was actually pretty surprised at how even the mixing is. Other than that there isn’t much to tell. All the tracks sound about the same and move at the same pace, which is that of Pluto revolving around the sun. The first two tracks are the best, because they actually have stuff going on in them, and I actually found myself quite enjoying both. They both employ some beautiful, albeit subtle, melodic elements along with some natural elements like sampled water and wind. However after that I guess Procer got lazy because the last three tracks are basically the exact same fucking thing, which is one drone, for 10 or 11 minutes. Seriously, 11 goddamn minutes of the same drone sound. What the fuck? Sometimes the volume of that drone dips down to near nothing and stays that way for 10 or 15 seconds, and I have to ask ‘what the hell was the point of that’? I have to assume it is just that he time stretched something and was too lazy to fill in the blank spaces with something else. This is really disappointing because if the whole record had been like the first two tracks it might be worth checking out. In ‘Amaranth And Liqueur’ you can actually hear the good elements of the album getting sucked up by the void. In the beginning of the track there are ever so quiet elements of melody and beauty, and you hear them gradually dissipate and get lost inside the messy drone noise that permeates the majority of this track. Once you get past the first couple minutes of this track, all hope is lost. The rest of the album is comprised of one single drone droning along placidly into infinity.
Well the production isn’t really bad, but it’s hard to have bad production when nothing is happening. Overall the CD is too quiet and the sound could have definitely been enhanced and given some serious weight with strong mastering. But I’m pretty sure Procer Veneficus either makes or used to make black metal, so the somewhat lo-fi sound is probably intended (by the way this is 2008, I‘m tired of lo-fi). For what few sounds there are, the mixing is quite good, although there are too many times where the drone seems to drop out for no reason, and when there is nothing else happening the result is silence, which is fucking boring. This happens constantly on ‘Departure’ and the result is a very patchy sound track that is only very slightly more interesting than total silence.
It’s an unbelievably minimal drone album so what can it really bring to the table to make it stand out? Well whatever it is, this album doesn’t do it.
Basically the same as above, when all you have is one drone noise it’s pretty hard not to flow well. Actually throughout the latter half of the album we are shown how to fuck up the flow of one singular drone…that is, by having it fade out in the middle of the track for no reason and then way too slowly come back in. (several times per track, no less)
Overall this album is something of a travesty. Ok, so we get two decent songs totaling about 15 minutes. Then we get a complete joke of three tracks, which sound like they were made in less time than the accumulated duration of all three. All of this in a really shitty demo-esque package, and I am expected to pay the same price for this as for a masterpiece like a Sephiroth album? I call bullshit. Anyway if you can find the first two tracks on their own, and are a huge fan of minimal ambient music than check them out. But don’t even bother with the rest of the album.