PHOBOS: A Visual Presence (2020)
Updated: Oct 10
“There are always some luminous points in Phobos' music which makes any journey in it arousing a passion for his music”
1 Mentalscape 20:10
2 Fear Eats the Soul 11:11
3 Hells Gate 11:40
4 When Aliens Cry 8:15
5 Celestial Dawn 10:03
6 Prelude/Dying Star 15:16
(CD/DDL 76:35) (V.F.)
Phobos! It has been 5 years since I haven't heard the enveloping dark music of English musician David Thompson. And yet, it looks like it was yesterday. I write it like this because even though the technology has evolved over the years, the music of Phobos always remains all in black dressed, with fine modulations that keep the dreamer awake if he is standing. Recorded as part of the Awakenings festival of 2019, quite astonishing the Signs of Life are since the last album I reviewed of Phobos, An October Evening, was also a recording of the Awakenings of 2014! Bah… No more sentimentality! So, recorded as part of the 2019 Awakenings Festival, A VISUAL PRESENCE is a long nighttime mass where hollow and dark winds take hold of our thoughts. A long journey that took place at lightning speed ...
A loud hum wakes up Mentalscape. The radiations of this industrial drone spread a sea of low sounds from which multiple filaments escape which will initiate this unequal fight between the power of darkness and its weak antagonists whose outlines sizzle with white noise. Organic noises sow our curiosity which hopes for other ones, while the black mass which moves above us, if we have succeeded in transposing ourselves to the ground, is like a large spaceship moving according to the heaviness of its reverberating elements. Cracklings, like crunches, come and go in this panorama which is not at the end of its inexplicable tones. Slow arcs undulate here and there, distributing its cutting blades which whistle funny between our ears. We are halfway through Mentalscape, and yet not a second seems wasted. There is movement which arouses our curiosity and which almost makes us forget this expanse of reverberations which is at the origin of the underlying life responsible for the beauty of this title. Fear Eats the Soul spreads the moods of its title with music designed to scare us. And it's plausible with all the tricks that Phobos puts in place, but not as much as Hells Gate which is a real descent into the land of Mephistopheles. We believe in it!
When Aliens Cry clings to its finale to deviate into cosmic territories. The movement is soft and populated by noises which conceal an Aboriginal human presence, especially when a very soporific trance makes our ears going wider. We are remarkably close to the virgin lands of Michael Stearns here. Dull but effective implosions guide When Aliens Cry to a finale where we can hear an alien cry and enter in Celestial Dawn. Synth pushes are propelling our ears into a universe of particles singing on slow orchestral flights. Phobos does the right thing by injecting a brighter presence after some 52 minutes of anguish measured by illusions. And even though the moods seem at war in Celestial Dawn, it's good to hear that special moment where darkness swings to the other side of mystery. Prelude / Dying Star is like this ship where our lives depend on elements outside our abilities in order to take off. The takeoff was painful but successful. We have the impression of floating adrift between a thousand particles that sparkle with a refreshing tone as we brush them. We drift into the heart of this nice title and its lyrical philosophy where prisms and stars write a new book of astral poetry before our senses go numb. Numb by this dark mass which opened A VISUAL PRESENCE and which sucks us towards the void of this dying star.
No, the music of Phobos hasn't really changed since An October Evening. His ambient and dark music always flows through diaphanous sources, reflecting this little mirage of luminosity which makes any journey in his dark spheres arouse a passion for his music. I really liked this album! As I liked this decision to go and hear what was going on with David Thompson since the end of 2015.
Sylvain Lupari (October 8th, 2020) ****¼*
Available at Phobos Bandcamp