Autger – Totenmesse
As black as smoke billowing from a smoldering battlefield and as haunting as an abandoned graveyard, Autger’s Totenmesse is a dark soundscape that feels right at home within your nightmares.
Hailing from Russia, Autger is a one-man band that produces deeply evocative and atmospheric music that’s inspired by the bleaker corners of human existence. Totenmesse, for instance is a concept album that is linked thematically with his previous releases and in his own words, is dedicated to “wars and revolutions of the 20th century” and serves as a “reminder to the post-war society.” For example, listening to tracks like “Brimstone” and “Der Tod Gottes” feels like you’re gliding slowly through bombed out ruins of cities in the wake of World War II while the voices of mournful ghosts rise up through the wreckage.
The album is a fine example of dark ambient music, akin to Dead Cities by The Future Sound of London, with its pulsing drones and chilled electronic beats underneath an entire menagerie of eerie vocal samples and reverb-heavy keyboards, guitar and other instruments.
Perhaps the most powerful track is the aforementioned “Der Tod Gottes” (The Death of God). The song starts with echo-drenched, sorrowful piano that fades into a short German spoken-word piece that segues into a shadowy kaleidoscope of drones, muffled voices and a monstrous, slowed-down chorus that seemingly chants straight from the pits of hell. Eventually, the track breaks down into bird sounds accompanied by a quiet ghostly choir, repeating the same few notes over and over until everything drifts slowly into silence. Tracks like this one accomplishes the same doomed, grim feelings that one might get from a Sunn 0))) recording, but in half the time and with half of the theatrics.
In a world where nuclear threats and terrorism are typical everyday headlines, philosophical albums engrained with gritty reminders of the cost of warfare, like Totenmesse, are likely to become far more frequent.