Good Luck In Death – They Promised Us A Bright Future, We Were Content With An Obscure Past (Nahal, 2018)



Is change something to be feared? So often we crave the safety of the habitual, the maintenance of the status quo; the tracts of stability and assuredness can be lengthy and deceptive, and it’s easy to forget the alterations that lead us to these consistencies in the first place. The unknown troubles us, its promises for the future treated with suspicion, even when we sense that we need progression.

This “threat” of change pervades the record, a collaborative effort between Mondkopf and Charbel Haber, with each of the four slabs here exploring some dimension of its nature. My favourite comes in the visceral progressive insistence of “Fire Dreams and Reveries”, where the e-bow comes into greatest effect. At first it stabs and attacks, flames licking at an oppressive darkness as purring drones grow with simple yet engulfing claustrophobic intention. They say that dreams of fire can symbolise many things: purification; transformation; passion; destruction. Almost antithetical perceptions, this signifier of alteration seen as being capable of only destroying what once existed, paving over the past.

It rises to a clamour, the conflagration of the mind enveloping the senses in almost aggressive industrial strength, and yet it dies to twinkling keys, uncovered pleasantries and shoots of hope like latent seeds activated by the heat or a phoenix from the ashes. Prospects from the pain.

Elsewhere the duo are more hesitant, with elongate “Fortune Telling Breeze” trickling in disjointed fragmentation, idiosyncratic synth croons assisting the burbling, stumbling textures. It trips over itself almost as these drifting seeds of textural data float into its matrix, disturbing the quiet and placid pools of careful guitar drone below. It has an absorptive neutrality though, seemingly embracing this light stream of information in calmly contemplative passages, allowing itself space for assessment and consideration whilst remaining aloof.

It may be because there is an underlying feeling of need, an acceptance of change that should be embraced for the purposes of personal betterment. Opener “Mystery Malaise and Eternal Spleen” makes this case in its spectral atmospherics and reverberant e-bow usage; it feels sacrosanct, like a crumbling church ruin that wails with portent, hallowed walls trembling in the face of irrelevance. Deep slashes of buzzing drone blare with thick and insistent density, malignant shades that spell out the warning: we can’t go on living like this. Misery and hurt runs deep, and in its slices it calls for action.

Resistance perseveres until the end though, with similarly eerie juxtaposing “Unforgettable Cabaret Nights” concluding the record on spooky airs and noir suggestions, all candlelight and repression. The guitar seems to heave like an accordion, moving in strange and slinky ways, clinging to the shadows of the past in reclusive swells as it tries to retain some vestige of obscurity and separation before it is pulled blinking into the light.

The delicately progressive nature of this record is what makes it so affecting: it slowly pushes and pushes on the senses, building itself and its sentiments in exquisitely crafted monologues that never threaten to overwhelm, leaving an air gap between emotion and logic. It knows in its heart of hearts that something new is needed, craved even, yet allows its reticence to be aired quietly and meticulously all the same whilst slowly eroding it into submission. Thick and engrossing listening that will captivate you from start to finish.