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Tone Poetry showcases Black Swan's ambient desolation

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Tone Poetry is terrifying and massive. As I click play and opening track “Ritual” slowly engulfs my senses, I begin to wonder if it is too late to back out. I settle myself in for an entirely immersive experience, one which swerves around in the darkness for almost 50 minutes.

Black Swan’s music is often as real as it is otherworldly. As electronic drones claw against the humanness of the live instruments, the music seemingly becomes deeply concerned with a constant struggle between life and death. The violin on “Psalm” and the piano on “Beloved” offer glimpses of mortality but are drowned and crushed under an abundance of crackle, drone and hiss.

Though most of the record is devastating, dark and horrific, Tone Poetry occasionally threatens light, offering much needed breathing space. “Serenity” lives true to its name and softly suggests that there is calm amidst the chaos. Elsewhere, “Departed” is actually truly beautiful, and for a moment it feels like the desolate blackness is being lifted.

Of course, these tracks are often separated by thunderous noise, ensuring relaxation never lasts long. Anger and nightmares are paramount to Tone Poetry and it is the juxtaposition of abrasion and beauty which results in the album’s effectiveness. Fear is best portrayed on “Rapture”, a track which is spiky and terrorizing. Waves of high pitched, screaming synth crash and pile on top of each other, making this track Tone Poetry’s most claustrophobic.

Tone Poetry also strangulates with its size. It has a bold and ominous presence which hangs over the entire record, ensuring that escape is never easy. The tracks are big and seem to pulse forward forever. Despite nearly every track on Tone Poetry falling below the 10 minute mark, the songs seem infinite and never-ending.

Laying in the darkness, blanketed by the music, my mind is flooded with the detailed imagery Tone Poetry creates: I am sucked into a black void; lost in a forest; trapped in a church basement. It is drone ambient at its most fierce, wild and simple; an album incredibly easy to disappear into and impossible to escape. 

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