Album Title: 
Against Civilization
Release Date: 
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Review Type: 

Robert C. Kozletsky was a known artist in Psychomenteum, but that project did split up, unfortunately, a while ago. He also collaborated in the high-profile collaboration Kerrstillingskozletskynyströmpetrus, with Stephen Petrus, John Stillings, Larry Kerr and Peter Nyström, and he’s part of the Shock Frontier line-up as well. But I think his best-known outfit will be his solo-project Apócrýphos, which he started almost a decade ago.

With Apócrýphos, Robert did two extremely interesting collabs with Atrium Carceri and Kammarheit (Onyx and Echo, both of them released via Cryo Chamber), and two full lengths that undersigned (being me) did appreciate as well, The Prisoners Cinema (Cyclic Law) and Stone Speak (once again via Cryo Chamber). And of course we cannot just ignore the yearly Lovecraft tribute recording sessions on Cryo Chamber (gathered as Cryo Chamber Collaboration), which this project has been part of several times. Actually, undersigned (that’s me, as you know) thinks that each release showed a growth, a great evolution within the progression of this Indiana-based entity. So, I (the undersigned indeed) was quite curious to experience this newest recording, bravely called Against Civilization. Robert wrote, performed, recorded and produced everything himself, and the mastering was done – quite ‘of course’ – by Cryo Chamber’s chief Simon Heath (Atrium Carceri, Sabled Sun). And to make the whole objective introduction complete: Erik Osvald (Keosz) took care of the intriguing artwork. Against Civilization is available via the contemporary digital sources, as well as on six-panel digipack compact disc, including a twelve-page booklet, in an edition of 400 copies.

The album’s concept focuses on a negative vision on society. Civilization is a curse. Your head bangs heavy in the windowpane […]. Those desperate to cling to their hollow idols fall silent, eyes sunken. They are not here. They have abandoned us. They are against civilization…

In about fifty minutes, Apócrýphos guide us through the ruins and remnants of humanity’s long-gone society. No, it’s not some post-nuclear travel after mass extinction, yet a portentous vision on the bleakness and emptiness of our existence. It’s the lack of modesty, the existence of narrow-minded egoism / egocentrism and the permanent need to get more, to grow bigger, to lead and to conquer, that poisons our identity, and threatens our future. Via this album, Robert presents us a mirror in which we can see the ugly, depressing, corrupted and sad face of our inner self.

Against Civilization is based on long-stretched, minimal soundwaves, performed on guitar especially. The gloomy dronescapes slightly differ from the former release(s), for they sound more introspective and captivating. This recording is less asphyxiating and malignant, I think, in comparison to the past, and much more ‘natural’ and minimal in nature. The overwhelming richness from the past got replaced by a rather introvert approach, even though compositions like A Feral Night and A Feral Kind are at least as ominous and heavy. The emptiness, the guilt, the shame, all these aspects of human life are deeper expressed via the nihilistic yet haunting and somewhat dreary and mesmerizing ambience on this album. Less seems to happen, yet the hidden in-depth message reveals itself if you open your mind (and ears), and if you dare to delve deeper into the matter. After several listens, I still figure out new, subtle elements. Besides, the few, yet ingeniously injected sounds and samples do add that down-earthed identity, that smooth addition of realism and consciousness. …oops, I’m getting philosophical – but I just want to define this slightly different yet still oppressive musical score for it is truly refined and delicate too.

Two more things, in short. First of all, one cannot but appreciate the variation, which is, at the same time, still very characteristic for this project. Each single hymn is like a new chapter in the story that Apócrýphos want to tell the listener via Against Civilization. It builds up, step by step, without forgetting its roots, yet focused on the core of the concept. The second thing is the wonderful sound quality, for the equilibrium in between a certain darkened veil of oppression at the one hand, and an extremely icy production at the other, strengthens the sonic story. The result does not sound too clean in exaggeration, nor too pathetically and clinically polished at all, which is nothing but a splendid ascertainment, of course. It maintains that corrosive noise, which one needs to fully understand, and undergo, this album.

And just FYI: Pär Boström (of Kammarheit / Hymnambulae / Cities Last Broadcast / Cryo Chamber Collaboration fame) joined as guest on two compositions. [and beware, for soon I will publish a review on Hymnambulae’s latest recording too].

To end with the words of label owner Simon: recommended for long nights, rainy days, and fans of cold and emotional soundscapes. It says it all…