Earlier this year Ihsahn released his dark EP ‘Telemark’. ‘Pharos’ provides a contrasting light to this previous release which sees the two works create a complimentary, yet contrasting, duo.
“‘Pharos’ is musically and conceptually like a reverse image of ‘Telemark’, IHSAHN explains of the earlier of the two companion releases. “Where ‘Telemark’ was all about the familiar and the close-to-home, ‘Pharos’ take a distant perspective and a more exploratory mindset.”
‘Losing Altitude’ combines an array of sounds and textures which combine to give an otherworldly effect. The cleaner guitar lead delivers a focus with a catchy melody, yet at the same time a dark synth, placed carefully in background, manifests at regular intervals disturbing the balance – but it works. This is rather good example of how music cannot always be explained in the way one would like due to limitations of the English language. Ultimately you will just have to listen to this EP to grasp what it is I’m waffling on about. My point is, there is a peculiar sense of the eerie that runs throughout a track which dominantly has an uplifting quality. The clean vocals have a smooth, reassuring texture that both stands out but doesn’t over-shadow the instrumentation. It’s very progressive, being able to place such a diverse selection of textures, tones and moods in one space, and have it work successfully, is an art-form in itself.
‘Spectre At The Feast’ has a pop element to it with the soaring chorus, and uplifting nature of the instrumentation that flows throughout. Of course, there are a few little Ihsahn twists thrown in. It appears to explore the lighter side of his sound to a greater extent.
The title track, ‘Pharos’, stands in a league of its own. The jazz inspired verses are beautifully done and contrast with a Gothic choir, distorted guitars and intense percussion in the chorus. Two styles, that you wouldn’t necessarily think would go together, blend seamlessly into one another. It gives the track an ethereal quality. The clean vocals also help bring the two sections together. The final two tracks on the EP are both covers. The first is ‘Roads’ by Portishead – a haunting dark track that really suits Ihsahn. The second cover is ‘Manhattan Skyline’, originally performed by A-ha, which sees Einar Solberg of Leprous feature vocals on the track. His voice fits this track very aptly. Neither songs are necessarily the choices you would expect but they add an extra something to the EP.
‘Pharos’ is another fantastic release from Ihsahn once again exploring so many different tones, textures and soundscapes. Listening to this EP in conjunction with ‘Telemark’ is definitely worth doing – the different moods of each release immerse you into a fascinating world of music.
‘Pharos’ releases on the 11th September 2020 via Candlelight/Spinefarm
02-Spectre At The Feast
05-Manhattan Skyline (A-ha)