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Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Record Review – Sylvester Anfang II

Latitudes CD/LP

If you saw a picture of Flemish freaks Sylvester Anfang II from their 2006 album Satanische Vrede dressed in white cowls and bearing primitive weapons as they crowd round a goat, you would suspect them to be a schlocky black metal group – though nothing could quite be further from the truth. The band’s music is slightly uncategorisable – they play what has been described as "funeral folk" – swathed in eastern guitar lines, trance-like structures, minimal percussion and sub-sonic bass riffs. There’s not many directly comparable bands out there but let’s try: early Popol Vuh, Comus, Sam Gopal or early Can feature some comparable elements, though they don’t sound particularly similar to any of those.

This release is on the Southern Records Latitudes imprint, which has seen several esoteric and experimental artists record something spontaneous in Southern Studios itself. Also notable are the beautifully packaged die-cut cardboard sleeves the CDs and LPs come ensconced within. Sylvester Anfang II have recorded five untitled instrumental pieces, which were culled from three hours of jamming and edited into half an hour of primo material on which the band create a slow-building dark psychic trip into unsettling folk emisis.

Under the black lights the band mesh their mental-hive mind into a summonation of the dark spirits that lay across the isthmus between waking reality and deep narcotic-laced hypnotic inner-space. Close your eyelids and focus out of the everyday and into the sounds from beyond – dark enveloping music, creeping evil, mystery crackling from the speakers, going back deep into the pre-Christian conjuration rituals performed out on the steppes, into the wild. Maybe that earlier album cover wasn’t so far away from the truth as first thought.

Austin Matthews

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