Dec 2013 09

Phragments - Phragments - New Kings and New QueensPhragments
Category: Dark Ambient
Album: New Kings and New Queens
Stars: 2.5
Blurb: Intriguingly bleak and minimalistic, this Slovakian act explores the dark and derelict soundscapes of a medieval wasteland.


Never a stranger to abstract, somber, and occasionally demonic-inspired ambient structures, Matej Gyarfas’ latest utilizes more and less, albeit significantly more subtle, of those elements in New Kings and New Queens. Covering ground in about 30 minutes in six pensive tracks, this venture aspires for quality over quantity.

Focusing on the infinite drone vibratos grafted into much of the album, “Chapter I. The Foundations Shatter” sets the pace with an eerily barren war aftermath atmosphere while the anticipated haunting relic of piercing dissolution and ringing sufficiently reveals what lies ahead. With each track expertly interweaved with the last and nearly transpiring as a single grandiose entity, it goes without saying for one to not expect a drastic departure, which can come off as a surprise to avid fans. However, when there are subtle tonal variations and more profound yet escaping industrial remnants, it can be somewhat rewarding. “Chapter II. New Kings” affirms that approach as the enrapturing effect of short-lived blaring organs allude to more promising times while mechanically induced hisses and earsplitting flashbacks of conflict prevail in “Chapter III. Bridge Burners.” At the heart of it all, listeners enter “Chapter IV. When Memory Fails, We Disintegrate” with the expected resemblance of previous chapters filling the air with more obscure folklore background sounds and deep, hair-raising wobbles resonating off dilapidated mountain walls. Unfortunately, the most interesting quality about this track is its capacity to deceptively tease listeners with larger bits of neoclassical undertones midway through; it hangs there, never delivers, and further indulges in the dreary encounters of linear drones with faint, insatiable variations. For the most part, the appropriately named “Chapter V. New Queens” conforms to the same structure as the second track; with the exception of the drawn out oscillations of notes simulating pipe organs in the first half, the shreds of disparities are so muted that they may as well not even exist. “Chapter VI. Aftermath” concludes with soft yet evident clinks suggestive of damaged clockwork that, for this album’s sake, is not delicate to the point of getting lost in the chilling haze of placidity.

Intentionally grey and precise, New Kings and New Queens understandably leaves more to be desired and doesn’t quite hold the same unique allure of 2008’s Earth Shall Not Cover Their Blood and even earlier works, but the enveloping tranquility apparent in the more relaxed, contained, and optimistic side of Phragments’ humanity is something fans can appreciate and hopefully enjoy.
Track list:

  1. Chapter I. The Foundations Shatter
  2. Chapter II. New Kings
  3. Chapter III. Bridge Burners
  4. Chapter IV. When Memory Fails, We Disintegrate
  5. Chapter V. New Queens
  6. Chapter VI. Aftermath

Phragments Website
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Malignant Records Website
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Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
Zachary Locke (ZLocke)

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