Crows Labyrinth "Travels" CD
Dutch bass guitar dronescaper Theo Tol aka Crows Labyrinth has self-released his debut CD "Travels" already several years ago, back in January 2013, but I think his intriguingly engrossing sonic alchemy, when utilizing only bass guitar and various effects, definitely deserves to be experienced and praised. Simple, but elegantly immersing 4-panel digipak features cover art and design executed by the artist himself. Additional credit goes to Arian Prins, who did the mastering at Hydra Music Studio.
The opening "Frontier", which covers 10 and a half minutes, straightly dives into nebulously rumbling terrains, more disturbing than harmonious, yet stunningly transporting into subterraneanly perplexing sceneries. Subtly outbursting and eerily titillating metallic rawness is coupled with reverberating solitary meridians. Rather minimal, but strikingly encircling! "Influx", slightly shorter than it's predecessor, is relatively quieter, but still powerfully engulfing. Sculpted with hypogeally labyrinthine transcendental drones, which are bridged with mysteriously cascading blankets and deliberately reinforced by assorted intangible squeaks and mind-blowing vibrations. Massively tenebrous venture awaits here, undoubtedly a top-notch track!!! 6-minute "Gibberish" immediately transmute into weirdly spiraling realms, constantly permeated by various noisy scraps. So no wonder piece like this drives me almost nuts. This is also the only composition with few overdubs, otherwise the rest of the album is a pure improvisation. "Reverie", the longest cut on "Travels" getting over 11 minutes, is another rather hallucinogenic amalgamate, where disruptive stringed layers persistently commingle with ambiguously traversing echoes, while helixing humming drone infrequently arise as well. Delightfully dissonant sonic palette! "Stratagem" is for sure more, let's say polished with its accessible feel. Although still rambling through subterrestrially colored domains, the ride is augmented by variety of shimmering, skittering and dizzy traceries. A quite peculiar potpourri, exquisitely merging enigmatic undercurrents with lightly glimmering ornaments. "Below", which clocks to only 2-plus minutes, is the only solo bass performance, recorded separately apart from the rest of the album. Written more than 10 years ago, the piece focuses on sensitively luminous lyrical poignancy, while surrounded by distant velvety curtains of abandoned hissy quietudes, the only field recording used on "Travels". Disparately flavored, yet tenaciously following the trace. 7-minute "Heliograph" brings the album into its conclusion with calmly expansive and insistently embracing bass nuances masterfully coalesced with display of evocatively swirling and euphorically ear-tickling trimmings. A very strong one too!!!
Albeit rather more experimental, puzzling and piercing at times to my by far more conservative drifting taste, the album proficiently keeps its strong authentic focus and concept throughout 53 minutes, where the listener is constantly confronted with challenging enigma-inducing tapestries. And that's what really counts on "Travels" for me, well-done, Theo!!! After exploring Remco Helbers' "On Some Road" CD one year ago, here comes another distinguishing hidden gem Made in The Netherlands!!! Even if "Travels" CD remains the only physical edition by Crows Labyrinth, don't hesitate to give a listen also to few digital tracks available via Bandcamp. "Consolation" 3-track EP is the last one released about one year ago.
Richard Gürtler (Jul 08, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)
Explore "Travels" here...
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