Samsas Traum – Oh Luna Mein

Samsas Traum – Oh Luna Mein – 4/5

After multiple listens I’m still at a loss at where exactly to place this, other than as a form of avant-garde. Like the twisted bastard offspring of black metal musician Varg Vikernes (Burzum – Black Ambient) and the members of Elend (Neoclassical Darkwave), to say the music had some pretty dark toned gothic leanings would be an understatement, but the unconventionality doesn’t stop there. With a variety of vocals spoken entirely in German, choral work, organs, saxophones, clarinets, frequent industrial tones beneath the almost Wagner-inspired bombastic instrumental sections, interspersed with soft piano interludes, ethereal female vocals and growls. And that’s all ignoring the two bonus tracks; remixes of earlier tracks, one transformed into an electro/dance beat and the other an unusual electro-pop/rock. Anyone expecting a black metal album will be in for a surprise. In fact, don’t expect anything beyond a gothic toned brand of avant-garde insanity.

Whilst a number of instruments make an appearance, the heart of the music often consists of a combination of keyboards, vocals and drums. The drumming is all done utilising a drum machine, and whilst ordinarily this would have me questioning just how much it detracts from the music, here I wonder if it does at all. The style is already so unconventional that its monotonous, almost industrial feeling basic drum work often provides a basic rhythm to work from, and despite its prominence often succeeds in resonating throughout the track without feeling out of place. The keyboards, too, could easily become repetitive in tone but are lavishly layered on top of one another to have bombastic classical bouncy tones, gothic organs, Viking-esque synth’s or addictive simplistic electro-like riffs (or indeed, any combination of these all at once).

The vocals are all in German, and as with the keys present no shortage in variety, from the spoken track (‘Das Vorlerene Kind’), to black metal shrieking, even crackled clean singing (most certainly not his strong point). Even featuring soft female vocals on one track (‘Fur Immer’), it is despite this, for the majority of the album he sports a tone that lies perhaps somewhere between a mid-ranged black growl and a staccato cleaner tone, which is remarkably effective at presenting an evil atmosphere more akin to a creeping sensation than overt chaos. The variation in instrumentation could indeed have seen more work though, the clarinet often under utilised, the saxophone only given one superb solo, and a lack of use of choral work which could have added further variation to an album that sounds as though he is just beginning to run out of ideas by the end of this stretch.

Sadly, this will be the last album (to my knowledge) where he succeeds in retaining a sense of evil to his music, later works opting for a more heavily gothic/industrial emphasis. This album is almost difficult to effectively describe, but certainly those with a liking for the most symphonic of the black genres with an open mind may find much to their satisfaction. Looking for something that’s just plain weird? You may love it, you may hate it, (you may be confused by it) but one thing that can’t be denied is that it’s certainly interesting.

Highlights: Fur Immer, Ode an Epiphanies