I said it before in my first dark ambient review and I’ll say it again now: Flowers for Bodysnatchers is my favorite artist and Duncan Ritchie is a modern piano master. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, Love Like Blood, the newest Flowers for Bodysnatchers album feels like it’s going to be a sort of magical realism tale before you sit down and listen to it, but it’s far from that. It’s a dark, depressively emotional companion piece to Aokigahara with some of the most haunting and beautiful piano passages I’ve heard outside of the classical era of chamber music. I know that seems like hyperbole but it really isn’t. I felt a little cliché saying it the first time when I reviewed Aokigahara but now I know I was right when I said that.
Where Aokigahara focused more on the end of the story and filled our ears with nature and quiet, Love Like Blood focuses on the beginning of the story, on what brought the characters to their emotional and mental breaking point, it’s an urban soundscape, with field recordings of all the places in Japan that the streetlights don’t touch. It’s gorgeous and tragic with an element of the supernatural at work. Love Like Blood really looks past the beauty of the city and shows us up close what a nasty place it can be, given the right circumstances. There are a whole host of instruments here that sound otherworldly or disturbing, I still maintain that there’s a vuvuzela on the album, drone like a bee just outside the edges of my vision, disturbing the peace I’m so desperately trying to find.
To go further into the urban setting, there are sections that feel like a back alley beatnik poetry slam. It’s familiar to the listener but it seems out of place and with all the dripping, crunching, and crackling of the field recordings we are given a sense of hyper reality, as if we are part of this world the music is creating and we know we are. But we can’t escape it, we are trapped by the emotions and pain and desperation, trapped in the cycle of love and loss until finally we can’t take it anymore.
As the album goes on the urban sounds start to drone, like their background noises that we can no longer distinguish as individual sounds. We’ve become so lost in the despair of love lost that nothing we feel, see, and hear around us has any sort of impact. The soundscape become an internal battlefield, emotions fighting to take control and end the pain and logic trying to hold out against a constant barrage of inexplicable events.
Like Aokigahara, this album has a malignant beauty. It’s hard to look at but at the same time it’s hard to look away. The piano is the key, without such masterful playing and superb production tying all the sounds and music together this would be just another run of the mill ambient album with some piano on top of it all. It’s far from that. Love Like Blood is a complicated emotional album, one where you aren’t quite sure what you are experiencing is real or a fantasy you’ve constructed in your mind to shield yourself from reality. It’s a powerful statement wrapped as a tragic gift. Flowers for Bodysnatchers perfectly blends reality with the surreal, urban with nature, and drone with classical music, if that’s not a sort of audio perfection I don’t know what is.
There is nothing not to like about this album, it’s the perfect soundtrack to help relax a very stressed out mind. It allows its listener to go to a different place and leave the physical world behind, even if it’s only for an hour.
Listen and support!