Keplers Odd: Strena Seu De Nive Sexangula (A New Year's Gift Of Hexagonal Snow)
Fractured Spaces

Dark metallic gloom wells up from Keplers Odd's dungeon on its third full-length outing, the hour-long Strena Seu de Nive Sexangula (A New Year's Gift of Hexagonal Snow). The Swedish group (Daniel Jansson, Kristina Persson, Magnus Mollala) excels at sculpting dread-filled atmosphere in the collection's seven ambient drone tracks. The album's largely guitar-based pieces contain immense molten slabs that kick up clouds of black dust so thick one could choke to death on them.

The opening track manages to keep the darkness under control though one clearly hears it fighting its way to the plodding acoustic drone's surface. Biting winds hammer mercilessly throughout track two as a plaintive guitar figure repeats to exhaustion, powerless to ward off the oncoming plague. Creaks and groans emanate from the charred center of the industrial third piece which churns ever more powerfully over the course of its eleven-minute duration. The fourth is haunted by clanks and creaks while the fifth offers a master class in strangulated howl and nightmarish scrapes. After the sixth setting's torture chamber tour, one prays the closing piece will bring relief and, at first, its acoustic intro does but soon enough disease spreads and transforms the piece into a groaning colossus. Yet for all its raw, feedback-drenched character, Strena Seu de Nive Sexangula (A New Year's Gift of Hexagonal Snow) exerts a strong pull and, in its way, is not unmusical: the sonic analogue perhaps to studying the simmering remains of a blood-stained car wreck after the bodies have been carried away. It's impossible to look away, even when one knows it's indecent not to.

September 2008