Amber Asylum – GardenOfLove AutonomySuite StillPoint

After a quartet of albums, numerous compilation appearances and collaborations with the likes of Neurosis and the Swans, Amber Asylum from the USA is back with a new, self-released record. The ten inch looks nice and contains three new tracks, with a total length of about 25 minutes.

The music of Amber Asylum is very hard to describe. At times they resemble a small chamber orchestra, while their music also has elements of dark rock, atmospheric ambient and apocalyptic folk, to name but a few. The line-up of the all-female band changes now and then, but the nucleus seems to be formed by Kris Force (violin, vocals) and Jackie Perez Gratz (cello). In total six different musicians are involved in this release.

I really like the heavy string sound they employ, with violin, viola and cello. At times the strings sound moving, in an ethereal neo-classical manner, but they are also used in a heavier manner, almost reminding me of Finland’s Apocalyptica. The female vocals are likewise varied. At times Kris Force, chief songwriter of the group, sings in a delicate, heavenly voices -style. On the other hand the vocals can also be a little sinister and intense, making me think of Jarboe.

The first track, ‘Garden of love’, is a very atmospheric one. Neo-classical string melodies are combined with filmic ambient structures and moving aria vocals. ‘Autonomy Suite’ has a very heavy sound coming close to rock or even metal, in which the dominant string parts make me want to play the air cello.
The B-side contains one long piece entitled ‘StillPoint’. This is a relaxing classical/ambient composition, which style reminds me of In the Nursery’s optical soundtracks or the more ethereal Projekt releases. Different vocal styles are nicely interwoven here. A lovely, moving song, which closes an impressive and varied release.

artist: Amber Asylum
label: Bio-Fidelic
details: 10" 3 tracks, 2005