Album Review: Lustmord & Karin Park – Alter

Album Review: Lustmord & Karin Park - Alter
Reviewed by Dan Barnes

Lustmord – or Mr Brian Williams to his nearest and dearest – is often credited with the creation of the Dark Ambient genre and has been activity bending minds musically since 1980. The intervening years have seen the Welshman releasing numerous albums in his own right and collaborating with the likes of Melvins, Tool and Pucifer.

Recently, Lustmord has added scoring films and video games to his quiver, alongside sporadic and rare live appearances – the first of which was for the Church of Satan on 6th June 2006.

For Alter, Lustmord is collaborating with Karin Park of Scandinavian duo, Arabrot- -who themselves only recently released their own record, Norwegian Gothic – and this partnership see Ms Park utilising her ethereally mournful voice to the great compliment of Lustmord’s compositions.

Album Review: Lustmord & Karin Park - Alter

Alter is the kind of record that demands much from its listener. There is little, if any, melody or traditional musicality to the nine pieces presented here; nothing that will have you whistling in the shower of a morning or putting it into your gym playlist.

Rather, Alter is the creation of vast paintings made of sound, some colossal in their scope while others are fragile in their intimacy. The Void Between feels like the soundtrack to a sci-fi movie not yet made and unfurls as a study in anticipation as huge chord collide like galaxies, accompanied by a tender, heartbeat pulse.

Lustmord imbues Alter with a dark, melancholic atmosphere which permeates every passage. Opener Hiraeth begins with an ominous growl, distant but audible and, closer, a wind-chime caught on a breeze. Through the use of sustained chords and Karin’s otherworldly voice, the track becomes unbearably tense as that growl crawls its way ever nearer.

Dripping water at the commencement of Entwined lead to a more upbeat delivery and the prospect of some relief but that hope is dashed through heavy, punctuating thuds.

There are plenty of musical genres that expect the listener to contribute their own meaning to the work, and Drone and Ambient lie at the further edges of that expectation. Just as SunnO))) employ frequency, Lustmord’s compositions are build seemingly from the primordial noises heard when the foundations of the world were laid. How those sounds are combined and presented – and the experience of the listener themselves – dictate whatever meaning may be derived from this.

When it comes to approaching the likes of Alter – and recently the newest Nadja record – I find the more sensory deprivation the better; a dark room and the cleanest, crispest set of headphones and let myself be swept along into the soundscape.

Every journey then becomes different – depending on how you are feeling at the time and making every play a new adventure. It’ll be interesting the next time I visit Alter’s shortest track, Perihellon, as it feels as though there’s something hidden among the faint, eerie whispers: a creaking door, perhaps? A baying wolf? A sobbing child, maybe?

Alter is as challenging a record as you would expect from Lustmord and one that will surrender its secrets slowly.

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