Music comes from within the soul of the creator. That’s not exactly a new idea but it’s still resolutely true to this day. Music is composed in the head as much as the heart and the soul. A musician pours everything they have into the music. Otherwise what they create cannot last, should not, and will not last. Take Visions of Ulnahar for example. It’s a project that literally was born out of a fever dream. Thus far the project has yielded two albums and in a rare case of indecisiveness on my part, I’ve decided I’ll devote a single review to both of them. They offer a strange, occultic glimpse into a world that weird fiction has been hinting at since its inception. The first album is called Crystal Cavern and the second has the less imaginative put perhaps more apt title of Demo I.
First, of course, a few stray thoughts on the albums and the artwork. One, the music of both albums is stellar, or is that interstellar or extrastellar, but the album covers seem a bit lacking. It’s not wholly disappointing but I do have to wonder what their meaning is in contrast to the music itself. Is there something that’s being told in the artwork that is not being said in the music, or am I looking way too deeply into things like I usually do? Two, you can tell the project is going through some growing pains with the difference in album covers and logos. That’s good, I think it shows that he’s exploring what works and what doesn’t as the music itself progresses. Perhaps with a third release some of the visual arts will be ironed out to match the music itself.
One reason it’s easy to review two albums in a single review is because the sounds of each album is relatively similar. While there are two different narratives going on in the stories, they complement each other and the overall purpose of the music of Visions of Ulnahar. I was fortunately enough to do an interview with the creator recently (go here) and in it I was able to discuss with him the meaning of the project. It’s a stellar journey, both extraplanar and introspective in nature. Each of these releases focuses on one aspect of that journey. Crystal Cavern focuses more the physical journey the listener takes. The imagery within the sounds and the images of the album artwork itself detail a very emotional but nonetheless physical journey and transformation. Demo I focuses much more on the occultic side of the journey, the more metaphysical side as it were. I will say this, in my opinion each of these albums is the story of the same journey but merely told to the listener through two different lenses. Will this trend continue onto the next solo album VoU does (they just announced a joint venture with another favorite of mine, Chaucerian Myth)? I certainly hope so. Each album has a very ethereal, atmosphere feel to the music but with Crystal Cavern the music is more fantasy oriented, lighter if you will. Demo I, on the other hand, is much darker and has more ambient noise in the synth. Crystal Cavern is more a foray into old school synth that is clear and clean and Demo I is an experiment in the raw, fuzzy side of things.
Both of the albums are highly enjoyable, each offer the listener a glimpse in the evolution of a project from a musical and artistic standpoint. If I were forced to pick which one I liked the most, I’d have to go with Demo I. While the sound is rawer and the artwork doesn’t quite match up to the dark content of the music I feel it’s a huge leap forward in terms of sound and musical quality. Sound design is just as important as the composition itself in my opinion and Demo I has better examples on both sides. But What do you think? Which one do you like more? Check it out and tell me!
Listen and support the music!