artist: Bohren & Der Club of Gore
year of release: 2005
Why this particular album as Evening of Light’s first eclipse review, you might ask. At first sight, Geisterfaust is an odd one out, compared to most of the music we (shall) discuss at the site. Still, I believe this record expresses better than many others what EoL is all about. The German quartet Bohren & Der Club of Gore has been a unique band in the European underground for almost fifteen years. They are characterised by many as playing ‘doom jazz’, a description that I do not wholly agree with, but good alternative does not present itself either. Yet, the link to jazz is especially on this album a very thin one, and moreover, Geisterfaust is slower and calmer than your avarage doom (metal) band. A certain dark ambient atmosphere is definately present here, but the differences with typical ambient artists and sounds are large. Let’s just say that Bohren is dark, experimental and original, which simultaneously answers the question from the beginning of the review.
Besides relevance to the theme of the site, quality is one of the requirements for being eligible for an eclipse review. It’s this quality I’ll be discussing now. For those who are unfamiliar with Bohren, the music is not very hard to describe, despite the troubles with genre-labeling: Long, instrumental songs, consisting of drums, double-bass, mellotron and saxophone. All in a relaxed to extremely slow tempo, sometimes empty-sounding, but a lot of dark, somewhat urban-dystopic atmosphere. As far as I know, this music has never been used for film, but I’m convinced that some time in the future there’ll be a succesful combination of Bohren and something film noir-like.
This feeling has been maintained on Geisterfaust, but musically this album deviates relatively strongly from its predecessors, Sunser Mission and Black Earth. The saxophone is practically absent, and the songs are just a tad more ’empty’ than before. This is expressed best in the opening track “Zeigefinger”, a colossus of over twenty minutes, and in my opinion the quintessential Bohren track. Two themes are explored on an excruciatingly slow (around 10 BPM!) tempo. It seems a bit too much, but it works all the better, and this is simply one of the most ominous tracks I’ve ever heard. After this, over a third of the album has passed, and we’re given a short break with “Daumen”, a calm mellotron solo. “Ringfinger” en “Mittelfinger” continue the dark atmosphere from the first song for another twenty minutes, until the end presents itself in the form of “Kleiner Finger”. This closing track sounds like a closing track should sound, although it’s hard to describe what makes it so. A relatively uplifting melody is picked up in the last three minutes by – there it is – the saxophone. An ending for an album the leaves many opportunities for the future.
This is a very special album with a theme that is as obscure as it is well implemented. A ‘ghost fist’, five fingers, five petals on a flower, five songs. A masterpiece of minimalism.
Reviewed by O.S.