Greetings, Abyss! So you've been busy, I've been busy- even the Editor has been busy doing super important Editor things that still don't involve getting me Pizza Combos.
You know who's been busier than the lot of us, Canada's atmospheric, post-black metal one-man-composer Unreqvited. On the heels of two lush and disarming ambient EPs, Rain and River, released in February and July of 2019, respectively, the Ottawa native has, oh nothing, already released two LPs and an EP THIS YEAR! While not the first to impose such an aggressive release schedule on himself (I believe the left-of-center synthpop act Psychic TV still hold the record for most LPs released in a year at 23), absolutely none of what Unreqvited has given us thus far has been of the filler or fluff nature.
Just the opposite, actually, and of the three records he's offered so far in 2020, it's Mosaic II: La Deteste et la Detresse that has more than struck a chord with me. The subtitle is loosely translated as The Hate and the Distress and when heard back-to-back with the album's spiritual predecessor, Mosaic I: l'armour et l'ardeur (armor and zeal), the title feels more than apt. Whereas Mosaic I is as aggressive as it is uplifting, its successor is a much more introspective and melancholic listen. Opposite sides of the same coin? In a sense. A predominately instrumental recording, Mosaic II does a masterful job of building tension with overtly melodic leads that are played over and with, (never against) an interchanging bed of synthesizers, choirs and piano. On both Wasteland and Pale, the distant, detached and unintelligible blackened screams are introduced to release that tension at pivotal moments, thereby creating a natural and genuinely cathartic ebb and flow to the tracks.
Even with albums that are deftly composed and feature legitimate musical prowess by its players, It so often comes down to production value for me. I'm happy to report that while Unreqvited's sound may be deeply rooted in black metal, there isn't a hint of corpse paint or production via an 80's cassette recorder that was picked up at a dollar dayz event at the local thrift store here. The layering of complimentary instruments that are at one moment harmonious and warm, the next fractured and cold, necessitates balance and proper presentation in the studio. Mosaic II only furthers my argument that one of the wisest decisions that was collectively made by modern black metal artists was to leave the trve cvlt production sound in the past.
The album closes on a trilogy of songs and the despondency reaches Cure-like levels on Transience II: The Gentle Void. Five or so somber notes and a handful of chords on an echoing piano lay the groundwork for a track that Robert Smith wish he would have written for either Seventeen Seconds or Faith. This yields to Transience III: The Static, where guitars set to a dirty blur and barely audible vocals serve to uncomfortably and fittingly end the proceedings. What are we left with then, oh patient and loyal abyss reader? Mosaic II is a record that stands on its own as a pensive window into our darker moments, as well as a record that serves to compliment its beguiling predecessor. If your budget permits, owning both and listening to them in succession really is the way to go.
And this is of course where we hook you up with Unreqvited's Bandcamp, Facebook and Instagram pages so that you can dive headlong into blackgaze bliss. If the more atmospheric and ethereal passages in Mosaic II grab you in the same way that they did me, the EP Time Without End, Unreqvited's split with multi-instrumentalist Sylvaine, is another visceral and engaging listening experience.
That should about cover it. Thoughts? Do you like black metal that was recorded with a potato? Why do we have to live in a world without Neil Peart, Agalloch or a proper ending to the Thundercats series? Will the editor ever bring me a snack? Your answers and/or musings on life in the comments section are always welcome. Rage on! JPR
Unreqvited- Transience III: the static