Dark Aether Project - The Gentle Art Of Firewalking

Year of Release: 2002
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: DAP03
Format: CD
Total Time: 42:52:00

A name such as The Dark Aether Project immediately adumbrates the aural contents of such a band's recorded output; that being, one that is consistently gloomy and awash in shifting shadows; set in stark and saddened meditation as sonic tapestries are gradually woven into existence. And the foreshadowing is not really erred, as The Gentle Art Of Firewalking is indeed a collection of darkly tinged atmospherics graced by Jeniffer Huff's plaintive and often bare vocals, although they are set against a series of instrumental counterparts that draw upon a more energetic nature and depart from the overall gloom in order to bring a more appropriate sense of balance to the affair. Gradual layering of arrangements is nevertheless the norm as the album progresses, and it soon becomes quite clear that The Dark Aether Project is an entity with a well-defined identity despite its chameleon-like shifts and diverse intentions.

And perhaps one of the most curious aspects of this Baltimore band is the fact that its music is bound by such a quintessence despite the difficulty of assigning it a precise label, which allows the group to branch out in different directions while remaining highly focused on target. "Crossing The Threshold" is a spacey construction of wide atmospherics and ominous tranquility; "The Gentle Art of Firewalking" is a multihued instrumental in which tense expectation switches with playful guitar motifs before exploding into intense distorted pulses; "Shades" features some syncopation set to odd time signatures that immediately recalls King Crimson during its eighties stint; and "3rd Degree" and "Sparks Fly" go into excellent metallic romps that are reminiscent of Kong's sonic mayhem. All in all, not the stylistic monotony that one so horrendously loathes in unimaginative bands with a scope the size of a walnut.

And all is well and good so far, as the band displays its precious sense of arrangement via well-placed instrumental incursions and embellishments that set the mood for each piece in a manner as appropriate as possible. Yet something is amiss throughout most of The Gentle Art Of Firewalking, as there is a sense of excitement absent from the recordings that lets things move ahead with all professionalism and correct execution, but without any truly grabbing moments. Jennifer Huff's vocals sometimes seem deprived of their wonderful mysteriousness and begin to reveal a bland quality, but that's not quite it. It's just that the compositions sometimes seem to drag on and incur a sameness that leaves everything straddling the line of thinness, with the balance shifting too oft to the wrong side.

There is no questioning the fact that The Dark Aether Project is a tight unit with a specific mission in mind, and one that the band explores and achieves without a single hindrance. The intended forlornness if fully brought to entelechy, and the layers of sound are wrought with a smith's precision, but the aforementioned lack of spark leaves this band's latest in a state of unrealized potential that leaves one looking to the future, where greater things may be achieved and the necessary excitement created and maintained with adamant steadfastness. For now, however, that key to timelessness is yet to be found and the potential yet to be exploited fully.

Similar Artists: King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Arise from Thorns, Kong, Robert Fripp

Crossing The Threshold (7:06) / Night Embrace (4:24) / The Gentle Art Of Firewalking (4:49) / Mask (4:34) / 3rd Degree (4:04) / Shades (4:17) / Sparks Fly (4:39) / Embers (8:58)

Allen Brunelle - drums, keyboards
Jennifer Huff - vocals
Adam Levin - 8-string touchstyle guitar, bass, guitars, keyboards, loops
John McCloskey - guitars
Marty Saletta - keyboards, stick

The Dark Aether Project (1998)
Feed The Silence (1999)
The Gentle Art Of Firewalking (2002)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: May 18th 2002
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Artist website: www.darkaether.net
Hits: 1019
Language: english


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