Since first initiating Ether of Souls, Ivaylo “Ivo” Andonov has been steadily crafting his singular brand of industrialized atmospheric darkwave, full of sustained and subtle synth-laden harmonies atop muscular rhythms that made for a nice set of instrumentals. But with the addition of Jared Louche, the A Far Safer Place debut takes on a wholly different character, one that adds an insidious and infectious appeal that would’ve been lacking had it remained a wordless affair. Throughout the album, Louche’s mastery of vocal architexture brings a flavor both sinister and salacious, his voice slithering with all the fervor rivetheads have come to love about him since the ‘90s. One need listen no further than “Doom Head,” the virulent bass tone and resonant synths straddled by Louche’s voice like a snaky predator, his repetitions of “Maybe you should spend some time in the dark” bearing a tone that threatens and entices one to do just that, consequences be damned. Andonov’s instrumentals on occasion bear an almost regal or imperial quality, such as on the bouncy yet reserved darkwave pomp of “A Fatal Impact” and “Event Horizon” with their waves of distorted hornlike synths, while the metallic march of “Echo Chamber” takes on a more monstrous and menacing tone, leaving the lush shoegaze pads and saccharine pop cadence of “Itso” to conclude the album. On the other hand, the trickling synth arpeggios and shrill noises along with Louche’s acidic vocal tone on “Erasures” give the track an even greater resemblance to Chemlab, while “Up Above the Wires” creeps and pulses with an almost jazzy trip-hop ambience offset by throaty spoken word passages. It would be a disservice to Ivo Andonov’s musical and production abilities to speak of A Far Safer Place only on the merits of so prominent a guest vocalist, each instrumental possessing a modicum of tonal grandeur befitting a movie or video game soundtrack… but as we await material to emerge from the newly revived Chemlab, it is difficult not to focus on Jared Louche’s three contributions to this album. For that, the album hits two-fold – the fresh and the familiar, Andonov and Louche… what’s not to enjoy?