I’m a hermit. I love the silence and solitude of being. I get anxious when I have to call people on the phone and in general I will go to great lengths to avoid being around or talking to people. I enjoy the company of a good piece of music, a film, or a book over a person (excluding my wife of course). What does that have to do with today’s review? Everything really. Enmarta, a neo classical ambient outfit from Cryo Chamber recently put out an album that seemed to be pointed directly at me. It’s called “The Hermit.” Now I’m not a hermit in the truest sense of the word, clearly. I interact with people if I have to and I live in a city of 100,000 near a university campus of 15,000. Still the call and allure of the hermit lifestyle is appealing, I think if we really were honest I think it would appeal to a lot of you as well.
Solitude is precious. Solitude, though, can be melancholy. There are two opposing themes playing themselves out over the course of Enmarta’s second album represented by two different types of music: instruments and drone. The viola is the instrument of choice on the album and I have to say that it might be some of the best composition I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing, seriously. Game of Thrones composer, Ramin Djawadi, needs to take note here on how to communicate effectively with a string instrument. And the drone is subtle, not a noxious irritating buzz.
The first theme, the theme represented by the viola, is loneliness. Even though a hermit might choose exile from civilization, it does to mean that they are not lonely from time to time. There is an ache in the heart of everyone, I think, to have someone to talk to, someone to share things with. As a hermit that’s not really possible. Sure you can write your musings down or talk to yourself but that’s not really the same is it? The hermit is free of the distract of humanity but that freedom comes at a cost. The viola is a thick sound, rich and deep. In my opinion it’s much superior to the violin. While still being a good instrument, the violin cannot reach the pit of the soul the way the viola can. The notes are longer, richer, fuller. With the combination of very specific field recordings, the emotional draw is complete and complex. Myriad emotions play in tandem to paint a picture with sound alone. Despite the deep sadness and melancholy, there is a peace in the viola’s music. There is a sense of contentness, a harmony between oneself and the world around them. Great wisdom can be found in sadness and solitude, Enmarta never lets the melancholy gain control of the music, instead the compositions balance it out.
The second theme, the drone, represents the joy of solitude. Without being too loud or too autistic, the drone wraps around the edges of the listener’s hearing. Without causing too much notice, the drones, natural and calming, put the anxieties and the hurts of the listener aside. It reminds the listener, the hermit, that though they are separated from people, they are not in fact alone. They are able to commune with nature in a much more intimate and vibrant way. The field recordings really pair wonderfully hear, as if they are emphasizing the very point I just made. The two systems of sound interweave themselves so thoroughly that a few times I didn’t know one had ended or the other began. Enmarta knows how to weave sound together.
So what is the narrative here? Well I think it comes from the third theme, a theme that never really separates itself from the other two, rather it intermixes the two of them with field recordings that shift from song to song. The story is the story of all hermits. The exile, whether forced or voluntary, followed by the exhilaration of discovery of nature, then the decline and depression, the ache in the heart for another soul to confide in, and finally the acceptance of certain truths (those truths will be different for each listener but of course still evident) and the content found in that acceptance. The third theme is the theme of the hermit himself. The theme is human and natural, sporadic, asymmetrical and chaotic.
What can you find as a hermit? What do you gain and what do you lose? What is a hermit? What does solitude really mean, psychologically and otherwise? What kind of person can be a hermit? All these questions are at the core of the album and the listener can explore those questions, explore their psyche. I, personally, think that the Hermit is the soundtrack to my mental state. The album is about the desire for solitude and the search for that solitude. This is the album for writers, for philosophers for artists. The Hermit is a quiet album that if you blink you will miss it. I implore you, do not miss this album!
Listen and support!