CD, Spectraliquid, 2008
The term cinematic gets tossed around a great deal in the music reviewing business, especially when it comes to those genres and styles of an electronic inclination. For the most part anything appearing particularly dark, atmospheric and epic seems to get pasted with this descriptor, and much of that undeservedly so. Perhaps the right adjective at the time, in comparison to Blackfilm’s self-titled debut album, most other so-called cinematic peers fall short. This stuff simply defines cinematic. Its orchestral nuances and muffled piano (“Interference”), spectral voices and effective interlude transitions (“Eastern” and “Untitled”), among other elements, serve to elucidate this formative strategy. As the second release for young label Spectraliquid (based in Athens, Greece), “Blackfilm” reflects a promising musical direction and, more significantly, astute artist selectivity.
The disc invites its listener in with “Come & See,” an introduction to both the sound textures and strong thematic aspects that intertwine its ten compositions. “Blackfilm” brings a post-structuralist film noir quality to the forefront of pieces characterized as sweeping, ghostly, orchestral, downtempo and, of course, epic. Brilliant “Stalingrad” figures prominently in this idea; its ten-minute duration encompasses abandoned Cold War ambience and ominous post-urban illbient alike. In shorter tracks, other strengths come to prominence. The gently pushing bass tones in “Five Years” are masterful, while the insatiable trip hop groove of “Sonar” burns well into the night. The sensual Indian singing wafting through “Mahabharata” arouses fantastic visions of that poem’s grandeur and ancient metaphysics. The spacey tenor, echoing voices and maudlin strings of “Midnight to 4 A.M.” conceives a vast and unquenchable insignificance in the face of a universe beyond human comprehension. “Blackfilm” is gritty music for an eyes-closed headspace, at once harrowing and enlightening.
Blackfilm seems to have sampled or used a live drum kit for virtually all its snare and cymbal needs, and this anchor to realistic desires creates a specific tension strung through its otherwise calm, yet alienating, mood. Soothing and atmospheric as it is, this music blurs the uncomfortable boundary between fleeting emotion and the gnawing abyss. It succeeds in its sublimity. The closing, brooding “Atlantikend” sends the listener’s consciousness off on a trajectory pointed deep into the blackness between the stars, or perhaps deeper into the fabric of space and time itself, to a place so unknowable as to rewrite actuality. Soaked in the history of our world, “Blackfilm” grasps for its tenuous future.
— Dutton Hauhart