Album: Rutsu No Hoyo
Label: Ant Zen
Genre: Ambient, Industrial, Experimental
Rutsu No Hoyo is a live album comprised of 7 tracks of Empusae's recent work. The press release simply states that this is a "truly fine collection of live recordings made in 2012 and 2013", so I'm not sure if this was from a specific date (some songs run into one another, but others don't appear to) or is even a representative set list. I'm not a fan of live albums as I don't see the point since many electronic acts don't differ all that much from the cd (which means you basically get the CD tracks with crappier sound quality), so personally I would look at this more as a sampler of his last few albums.
I'm not sure how representative of an actual Empusae live show this is, but this set seems to do a fine job of conveying the breadth of Empusae's work, which in itself is quite varied, - with tracks going between captivating ambient; haunting, regal medieval; and shadowy ancient asian vibes. It opens with "Second Ornament" which is from his collaboration with Shinkiro. I liked that album quite a bit and this is a fine track to open with. It's a long, deep ambient ride and although the backbone of the track comes from droning textures, there are many subtle things happening throughout to give it unique character. There is some buried tribal-esque percussion which helps push it along. Next up is the 14 minute piece "Sphere Des Bois" from Sphere From The Woods. I don't know how to classify this one. Strange, floating downtempo with asian melodies from what sound like traditional instruments. Around 7 minutes in some plodding semi-martial drums kick in and significantly enhance the track. In a live setting, I think this could have done with about 5 minutes less of the beginning and instead cut right to the meat. It's a good track and I do enjoy it, but I think the live cut should've been about half as long. Following that we have "Seven Types of Ambiguity", his collab with Nick Grey from Symbiosis. This is a great track from an equally impressive album; it is more neo-classical with a kind of gothic castle parlor vibe. Very sad and mystical textures. Again, after a few minutes some percussion kicks in which brings everything together (I don't believe this was in the original, but I could be wrong). The next two tracks are from the Spectres vinyl on SEALT. This was a very limited pressing, so Rutsu No Hoyo may be a good place to check out these tracks for fans who don't do vinyl. "Quantum Daimon" is another hard to define piece that consists of downtempo, organic electronics with asian influence. This sounds like a an aged painting of a foggy ancient mountain path in the far east. I've never heard this before but it's probably my favorite on this album. Would love to hear this in an immersive live setting. Conversely, "Consanguinous Pain" is probably the track I like least. This one is quite noisy and abrasive, and the poor sound quality makes it sound rather muddy. There are some nice pads and what sounds like guitar(?) plucked melodies, but I feel there is a good amount of content that gets lost. I think a studio recording of this would sound quite excellent, but this version doesn't do it for me. "Dirge" is similar - epic pads over top of what are probably great melodic elements (if you could actually hear them); forceful, pounding drums; and droning noise, but unfortunately poor sound quality makes this sound very muddy and claustrophobic with the feedback-y droning noise overtaking more ground than it should. The album closes with "One and the Same" which is his collab with Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio. Unfortunately (or fortunately if you don't like Thomas Pettersson's voice), Ordo does not seem to appear on this version and it is more or less instrumental. There are a few instances where it sounds like there are some low vocals but they are difficult to discern (which isn't really a problem as they just come off as sounds among a palette rather than specifically "vocals"). This is a great and highly emotive track which can fully stand on it's own without an upfront voice, and it's actually quite wonderful to hear. Similar to "Seven Types of Ambiguity", this carries a sort of an unsettling gothic parlor vibe to it.
This is an interesting collection of live tracks. The track selection and order is quite good and I feel that it would be lend itself to a solid show. However, as is unfortunately the case with many live albums, the sound quality isn't as good as a studio album. So basically, the bottom line is that Rutsu No Hoyo has some interesting, different versions of 7 good Empusae songs, but the sound quality is worse than the CD versions. In my opinion they should've just released studio quality recordings of the "live version" of these tracks which would have given the same effect but with better, fuller quality. Either way, if live recordings interest you and you are a fan of Empusae than you should check this out.
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