Review: Holy Similaun – Ansatz

OOH-sounds.

Ansatz is crammed full of fight scenes. Dizzy edits, swords unsheathed, the whoosh of missiles flying wide, grunts of pain, the clunk of metal armour dented by hulking metal cleavers – all backdropped by broken beats that stand like stubborn metal foundations of buildings otherwise ruined. Beyond these explosions of violence, the record is a ravaged metropolis. Empty alleyways, waning streetlamps. Voices spill out of speaker systems like public service announcements looping uselessly from a decade prior. Synthesisers cling to the air like a smog of dumpster fires and flickering halogen glow. It’s a hostile place to inhabit, either devoid of life or directly threatening my own, and I find myself wincing through those passages of electrified quiet, waiting for the bass frequencies to burst out of the ground and throttle me all over again, treading across Ansatz as if it were riddled with landmines.

It is exquisitely rendered, both in terms of its scale and depth of field – stretching out to the dark clouds on the horizon line, shrinking inward to smother my face in insect-like scuttles and clicks – but also in its potent sense of history. This is not dystopia used as a hollow aesthetic, or the ruins of nowhere in particular. Most alluring about Ansatz is how lucidly it points back to a former, civilised self, with each sound or broken rhythmic motif offering clues as to what this landscape might have felt like with more colour, more life, before the staleness set in, before the windows were smashed, before the clean air of collective safety started to discolour into the smog of survival instinct.