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(40:47, Melodic Revolution Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Black 4:40 2. Full Body Access 4:15 3. Sand Horizon 4:50 4. Imperial 5:34 5. Crossbread 3:17 6. Sniper 3:51 7. Epitaph 8:06 8. Happy With the Future 6:12 LINEUP: Hamlet – vocals; guitars, bass; keyboards, programing; drums Rachel Bauer – vocals
Prolusion. The Belgian project TRANSPORT AERIAN was formed by composer and musician Hamlet back in 2003 as a creative outlet and solo venture for his music. The debut ablum "Blessed" was released in 2009, and since then three more studio productions and one live CD have been released under this moniker. "Darkblue" is the most recent of those, and was released in 2015 by Melodic Revolution Records.
Analysis. When you encounter an album titled "Darkblue", you would expect the music on it to be somewhat gloomy, perhaps with an emphasis on melancholy, and most likely with a focus one way or the other towards night time moods of some kind or the other. This isn't the case with this production however. The material here is dark indeed, but of quite a different nature. Bleak, harrowing, tortured and haunting are key words that summarize the emotional spectrum explored quite nicely, indeed, and you might as well add cold and introverted in as well to further refine the associations that, I suspect, the greater majority will get after this experience. Of the eight compositions, the first six are pretty much all made in a similar vein. Eerie keyboard details, often with a futuristic, dystopian sheen, are given a lot of emphasis, with alternating male and female lead vocals and spoken voices on top for a substantial amount of play time. Plucked guitar details, dark-toned dampened riffs and, occasionally, more abrasive and powerful riff constructions with more of a distinct metal expression are sued to add depth and a majestic presence to the proceedings, while wandering and often unconventional piano details are used to flavor the soundscapes with more of a delicate touch and a very special feeling of unreality. The music is generally dark and uncompromisingly so, and my main associations go towards Nine Inch Nails actually – if you take away the aggression from the music of that artist and replace it with despair. With a few additional touches brought in from the gloomiest parts of Gary Numan's earliest albums. One should perhaps also note that there are some jazz-tinged instrument details here and there as well, and on one occasion I did note down a brief guitar detail of the kind that, for me, will always be associated with the great Robert Fripp, this latter detail perhaps more of an accidental one though. On Epitaph the album suddenly changes, still remaining bleak and harrowing, but now exploring a much colder variety of music, using keyboard motifs that sound like they may well have been crafted up in the arctic somewhere, with careful rhythm and guitar details alongside the male and female vocals combination the main additional elements. In the obscure references department, I'd point towards the UK band Demon's album "British Standard Approved" as one of few productions I've encountered that at times explore a similar soundscape, although then without the David Gilmour-style guitar solo that appears towards the end of this composition. Concluding track Happy With the Future marks a partial return to the earlier premises of the recording, where dark ambient sequences bookend desperate and tortured arrangements of a similar nature as the ones explored on the first half dozen of compositions.
Conclusion. "Darkblue" is an album that will appeal to those drawn to darkness, those who manage to understand and cherish the beauty of horror, the aesthetics of bad dreams, the stark brilliancy of brutal honesty. It probably also calls out for listeners with more of an introverted nature and personality, as the atmospheres and feelings explored won't be those you'd bring over to friends to chit-chat over. Progressive rock fans of the kind that frequently have artists like Nine Inch Nails and perhaps also Gary Numan on their playlist come across as a key audience, I imagine most of those who recognize themselves in that description will appreciate the relative charms of this disc.
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