Sometimes a prophetic message is written in the starlight. A gathering of divine spirits, a stronghold of celestial deities, a revelation of astral and cosmic energy; it is like Space and Time being somehow gathered to purport the contemplation of a majestic occurrence. It comes in an aural form, unphysical, impregnable, unassailable.
That symbiotic expression of unworldly and amorphous elegance comes under the moniker of Prisoners Of The Solar System, gathering two open-minded projects from both the Northern and the Southern hemisphere. Under that working title, Russia’s Satanath and Australia’s Striborg join forces, and actually it is not their first encounter. Striborg, a solo-outfit by some Sin-Nanna from the isle of Tasmania, did another split on both labels involved (GrimmDistribution and Death Portal Studio), yet with Abigorum (link for the review: see below) - with the latter being an outfit by the very same guy, Mister A.K., who also runs GrimmDistribution, Satanath Records or Symbol Of Domination Productions, by the way.
So, to keep it short: after a split of Abigorum (Aleksey Korolyov) and Striborg (Sin-Nanna), both human (?) beings decided to have a next mutual effort, and that’s what this review will deal with. I will not go too deeply into both project’s / musician’s background; this site might lift up a tip of the curtain if your investigation skills are not too lazy (and otherwise, the .net will surely provide you any information, whether it be qualitative stuff or fake news [no fake bullshit on Concreteweb, of course, for I am a very serious person]).
Prisoners Of The Solar System – let’s be honest – is not a totally newly written effort. Both projects come with material that had been written (and recorded) over a period of time of many years, and throughout different occasions. But do you care? I do not either, for this ‘compilation’ brings some of the better things from both entities. Besides a digital edition, there is a compact disc version too, evidently. This one comes in an edition of 500 physical copies (un-physical compact discs have not been invented yet), including a quite simple four-page booklet (layout by GrimmDistribution’s Aleksey) with simplistic yet, somehow, intriguing artwork. …and some lyrics from the Striborg-side too. The whole has been mastered at the Belarussian Digivision Records studios during Spring 2020. The concept deals with some timeless captivity into endlessness, oblivion as result of man’s imprisonment in outer space. It’s a metaphor for our capitalistic, narrow-minded, consumers’ oriented and ‘brain inactivity minded’ vision in contrast to a certain escapism, not from life itself, yet from the stupid lives we’re actually living. It’s a tribute to those who are willing to leave the safety of the (western) society in order to explore and experience, to travel to the adventurous unknown beyond space and time. Science and technology, courage and guts, adventuresome open-mindedness and experimental lust are philosophical concepts to understand this sonic peregrination.
The five first tracks on Prisoners Of The Solar System have been created by Satanath as demonstrational material, and this over a period of a decade (from 2011 to 2020).
The first piece, To Cosmic Prisoner (one of the two Satanath compositions that clocks over ten minutes), shows a glimpse of the astral approach. This piece is little monotonous, yet at the same time extremely rich because of the many synth layers around, as well as the variety that, step by step, pierces the whole track. Darkened drones, mesmerizing keyboard lines and transcendental floating melodies are mingled into some obscure piece of darkened resonance. Subtle special elements, almost like singing whales, give the whole thing a certain Psybient feeling too, even though the main focus lies on the roots of Dark Ambient Music especially.
Uncivilizacio, the second piece, and the other one that clocks over ten minutes of duration, is way more spacy with those avantgarde noises and the modestly IDM-oriented electronic attitude. Somehow, it’s even progressive; not only because of those spacelike sounds, yet also caused by the progressive, somewhat Jazz Noir alike elements. The second half is even weirder, like a Chiptune reinterpretation of some Dungeon Synth game sequence. For sure this might be the most ‘spacy’ track on this album.
More in the vein of the opener, Astral Symphonies returns to an ominous ambience, explorative on and off, then again fading away into interminable void. It guides the listener into a dreamlike vastness beyond imagination.
A truly oppressive piece is Kilasanthra, heavy and abyssal, deep-dark and still enlightening somehow. After a very obscure introduction, vibrating melodies, mesmerizing sounds (as if a sitar-on-mushrooms enters, haha) and subtle percussion-like details are canalized into spatial immensity with an apocalyptic character. Especially towards the end, that post-apocalyptic asphyxiation takes the upper hand.
Darkspace Aura, eventually, is like a symbiosis of Satanath’s oppressing Space Ambient stuff. This gloomy composition is based on claustrophobic drones and intoxicating melodies, penetrated by hallucinogen injection and very subtly used percussion sounds. It seems to represent a dark, morbid ritual, the soundtrack to a sacrifice for the macrocosm. Minimal in nature once again, but Darkspace Aura is huge in attitude and expression!
The six other compositions are courtesy of Striborg, and recorded earlier for independently releases in 2019 (and some newly recorded material as well). As you might know (and if not: there is an interesting summary on the progress of this project’s Aural Art included in my review for the Striborg split with Abigorum; link below), the initial Black Metal approach has been replaced some time ago, turning into rather electronic Ambient / Wave stuff. The last efforts, all of them, dwell within these spheres, yet almost all of them are somehow differing as well. The very same goes for the material on this split too. And as said, most of these compositions are not totally new, but have been released independently before (especially in 2019 in self-release).
Take opener Interdimensional Transcendence, for instance. It is based on a murky melody in the first place, injected with spacelike sequences, electronic beats (no organic drums, nor hyper-kinetic ultra-BPM stuff either), low-tuned and harsh electronics, and both deep-blackened and whispering voices. It’s a full package, an immense sonic experience, like a self-invented symbiosis of Doom Ambient and Blackwave. Believe me: it is!
Empty Sorrow, the second Striborg creation on this album, and the longest one from this Australian entity (ten minutes of length), as well as The Burden Of Existence, continue that path, yet in an even doomier and more obscure manner than Interdimensional Transcendence. The EBM-ish electronics are less represented, and somewhat ‘replaced’ by droning Witch House / Gothic key-work. The drum parts sound rather organic this time, and it might seem a detail, but it strengthens the abysmal immensity enormously. Especially within the second half of Empty Sorrow, when the whole suddenly turns into devastating usurpation, and throughout the whole of The Burden Of Existence, these natural drum patterns show their richness. The clean, melodic voices, by the way, in Empty Sorrow add that fine-tuned level of Gothic Dark Wave in a mostly subtle and modest way.
The ‘song’ A Nighttime Perplexity, then again, return to a certain inner tranquility; Black Dungeon Dance Trance Music would not be such a stupid description. The organic drums made room once again for programmed percussion beats, but it goes well with the floating, mesmerizing and spacial melodies and those gloomy, creepy blackened voices.
Proceeding From A Dark Place somehow continues within a comparable way, but there is something like a levitating atmosphere (it does, it surely does). Besides, the clean voice once again minimizes the border with the Gothic / Cold Wave scene. A fine detail is the well-thought symbiosis of a meditative aspect at the one hand, and a harsh, ominous one at the other. Micro and infinity, modesty and expressive all in one…
We Are All Prisoners, ultimately, is a new track (written for this release exclusively?) that maintains that ultra-heavy, doomed atmosphere of both An Existential Burden tracks, combined with an adventurous tangle of psychotic vibrations and down-tuned, even martial symphonic keyboard melodies. It’s a very short piece (unfortunately), but a well-thought outro to Striborg’s half of Prisoners Of The Solar System.