Twilight Fauna / Jennifer Christensen – Split

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Label: Red River Family

One of the best things about split releases is that they can help you see how musically diverse artists are connected. The atmosphere and emotion conjured, even if done through different means, can be such that placing two acts from different genres together can make perfect sense. Such is the case with this split 7″ between Twilight Fauna and Jennifer Christensen. Musically, there is a vast difference between them, with Twilight Fauna excelling at creating atmospheric black metal, whilst Jennifer Christensen is a mutli-instrumentalist who here offers something close to classical musical. But despite these sonic differences, both acts hit similar emotional notes, ensuring that this split is both diverse in sound but cohesive in feel, and is all the better for it.

One-man act Twilight Fauna here present one song on their side, the almost eight minute long “Crossing The Threshold”. It’s a mighty piece of work, full of layered guitars and a sense of space that veers between suffocatingly claustrophobic and dizzyingly open. The folk instruments that helped root his excellent Shadows Of Ancestors album in such a way to place and character are largely absent here, only really being present in the opening, haunting moments; not that the track suffers for it, though. Instead, the wall of sound that is presented is the kind that consumes the senses, pulling you in to its maelstrom. When, just after the halfway mark, it dies away to be replaced by more subtle instrumentation along with howling winds and distant screams, it is both moving and horrific; the effect created when the guitars return is quite something to behold. This is music to loose yourself in, full of grandeur and a sense of loss for something that was not quite fully known to begin with; emotional without being self-indulgent or crude.

Jennifer Christensen’s offering, by contrast, is not metal at all – at least, not in sound. Just shy of seven minutes, “Sickness Unto Death” is a neo-classical piece of ultimate sadness, absolutely harrowing in its misery and undeniable beauty. There is a real grace to the track, but also drama and narrative – the sense that this music is telling a story is impossible to deny, as bleak as it is. Musically, even someone like me who is relatively unfamiliar with this style can tell that it is being played with a certain invention, and there’s considerable character evident in the songwriting. The dynamics and movement also helps ensure that the track feels shorter than it actually is, and make it relatively accessible.

Overall though, it’s the sense of emotional and atmospheric consistency that makes this split shine stronger than might be expected. Make no mistake, both tracks are absolutely superb, but that they are so musically different yet cohesive in their aims and mood is to their credit. A bleak, haunting underground gem.

Split is available through Red River Family and Bandcamp on frosted clear vinyl 7″ (limited to 300 copies), and can be streamed and downloaded via Bandcamp, with release due around 15 December.

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