Here’s how it works.

I generally don’t decide to write about an album then listen to it, I tend to listen and see if it inspires me in one direction or the other. This, of course, is a very subjective process; and one which is heavily reliant on the context of what’s going on with and around me at the time. This time last year, for instance, I was in ‘lockdown shock’ and couldn’t really write or relate to anything in and significant way.

Things have moved on now, however, and I have found that the music I have been listening to has been quite reflective in nature; probably as I process the last year and how it has made me feel. It was in this context, therefore, that I started listening to ‘Fegefeuer der Eitelkeiten’ (Purgatory of the Vanities) by The Hausfrauen of Death… a duo comprising Dirk Jan Müller (Electric Orange, Cosmic Ground, ex Space Invaders) and Paul Pott (Robb and Pott, ex Space Invaders). As usual my first few listens happened before I looked at any information about the record, or even thought about the title… so it’s relevance to me was even more remarkable when I found out that it was recorded in 2009, and only first released in 2013… and pleased that it’s now getting the full vinyl treatment from Adansonia Records (see here for details).

This is because hearing it for the first time last month gave me the feeling of it being the soundtrack of the last year… a meditation on isolation, change and tension… then I translated the title and thought that this last year has been a purgatory or sorts… a time when we have been sitting at home waiting for something to happen… for the salvation of medical advances and vaccine rollouts…

I have tried to think why this may be the case… and I have finally come to the conclusion that there is something about this music that reminds me of stasis. This is because of the slow considered nature of the electronics here… yes it is laid back, but that on its own would be a disservice because there is far more going on here. Every element of this music seems to have a purpose… like a stream of lava slowly but surely transforming the sonic topography as it flows through its channels. Here the ambient atmosphere is transformed as the music somehow opens the mind up to fresh reflections and new ideas… it’s depth is significant and there is an authenticity here that belies the electronic nature of the music… it feels full of emotion and intensity.

I don’t know whether the 70s vibe reminds me of the science fiction of my childhood years… the fear and excitement generated by this sort of music… and there is certainly a nostalgic element to my connection with this album… but back to the last year, and I think this combination of mood and familiarity has given me a great cipher through which to reflect on the strange landscape that the pandemic has brought… to consider the ups and downs of a period which felt as unfamiliar as arriving on a new planet and viewing it from the isolation of my landing craft as I seek to make sense of the novel situation in which I find myself. This is because this music is full of mystery and a sense of otherness that both generates and maintains a sense of seclusion, although the variations that Müller and Pott lay out here mean that sense of aloneness is not the same throughout.

At some points you feel as if you are variously lost within an unforgiving landscape as sounds bubble up and disappear, or in a large empty cavern as an organ echoes through the speakers, or stuck within the confines of a spacesuit as metallic edges enter the music. On each occasion I am taken by the vivid pictures that this record paints and the terrific ethereally charged aura that it engenders.

This, then, feels like an album that is both within and out of time… there’s a definite 70s vibe to the whole thing, but from that is projected something of an immutable feeling which generates and inspires thought and reflection that is at the same time comforting and challenging. This, for me, is because the music manages to be both warm and remote at the same time, and it is ultimately this combination that works so well to generate these competing emotions.

‘Fegefeuer der Eitelkeiten’ is available now from Adansonia Records here.

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Hey, 

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