There is optimism here. Deep in amongst the murk – keyboards and voices drowning in their own echo – there is always a melody pressing up through the centre of Vlimmer. And even if the harmonic definition is often obscured by the fog, I can nonetheless hear the extravagant intent of these chord changes. They twist between major key uplift and diminished pangs of the dark, driven by buzzing bass and the rotary clatter of electronic beats, navigating through the echoes as if trying desperately to find an exit. And while the melody never emerges into clarity, the strength of its conviction never subsides; each swoop of harmonic progress is majestic, undeterred by the absence of escape, carrying a lead vocal that verges on choral in its plumes of open vowel. There is a lucidity trying to break through the keyboard smears and self-obscuring feedback; a resilient truth attempting to penetrate the bustle of incoherence.
Of course, it’s so easy to conflate excessive reverb with the notion of atmosphere. And while the ultimate effect of this cloud of sound is just that – an impassable mass of frequency – Vlimmer imbues these pieces with traces of colour and eerie silhouettes; each track places a different scene behind the blur. The howling winds of “Metropolo” sound like a phantom choir rolling across stereo space, evoking a canyon where the bluster of air curdles with the vibrato of souls in mortal limbo; the gothic keyboard sweeps of “Menschenschichten” play out like a vague, misshapen memory of a John Carpenter premiere. And then there’s the climactic ascension during “Ohnmacht”, getting louder and louder as it reaches toward the light, before silence sucks out the cacophony like a vacuum. It’s unclear as to whether this symbolises the moment of escape, or the onset of climactic disaster. Even in the spotlessness of silence, Vlimmer manages to wield a dramatic ambiguity.