Prolific one-man-show Mark Thompson from Stuttgart, Germany, once more vents his creative urges via music, whereas in professional life, he seems to be a visual artist. His sonic means of expression can be described as funeral doom, a romping ground for dilettantes and autistic wannabe-musicians, if you are prone to cynicism – but this British fellow at least strives for diversity, albeit within the narrow frame this sadsack-genre allows.
The songs are seven to eleven minutes long and characterized by Thompson's raspy voice that harks back to the early days of Agalloch, the overall ambience being similarly mysterious and somewhat „sylvan“, if that makes sense. Remarkably enough for a solo project, all instruments, even the drums, are played by the protagonist himself, the slows pace making this easier at first sight, although the devil hides within the details: „I Cried At The Sun“, „With What's Left Of The Night“ (most desperate sounding ditty here) and „On The Nature Of Things“, while not providing us with anything like a hook, are well thought-out displays of monotony at its most effective, meaning that Thompson elaborates on distinct musical motifs and has a good grasp on how to arrange instruments dynamically. The only thing that mars the experience is the lifeless production job, but the resulting sound is probably embraced by fans of this type of music – and rest assured of the fact that „The Nature Of Things“ is made for nobody else than them.
„Burnt Over“ adds melancholic whispers and piano to the mix, not to forget a rather solid wall of guitars towards the end. A nifty man behind the mixing desk would quite likely have worked magic on this material, turning it into something you could easily tag Shoegaze Post Black Metal or whatever. „Promise Me“ sounds as if Thompson had hidden inside a cave, never wanting to come out again, and to this reviewer, it's a complete mystery how an artist who wants to communicate his inmost completely fails at creating interest in his lyrics: Whereas Thompson by no means comes across as whiny, his utterances are rather an additional instrument than of actual substance, especially in „Promise Me“, where they mingle with the riffs and melody (which consists of three to four notes at best, mind you).
Longest and last track „To Create Death's Memory“ appears to be the strongest … for whichever reasons. Could this be due to the relief felt now that the listening session is over? Is the scene that dwells on this sound a support group for sadomasochists? We don't know because artists like Mark Thompson first and foremost create for themselves, which is a good thing, particularly in a climate that fosters shameless self-promotion even among those who don't have anything to promote at all.
words by Andreas Schiffmann