12 Apr 2016

Messenger: "Illusory Blues"

Highly recommendable variety in murky depths
Messenger from the UK may not have the most original of band names, but the trio played as warm-up on Katatonia's acoustic tour in England and comes recommended by none other than Kristoffer "Garm" Rygg of Ulver fame. Credentials like that aren't easy to come by, and with Messenger they seem very well deserved.

Their debut Illusory Blues echoes with eerie folk vibes through thick veils of melancholic darkness, in a constant turmoil of various chants and mantras that constantly dissolve and coagulate along translucent borders of folk, psychedelia and rock. Their sound is at first tough to come to terms with because of its esoteric nature that more than once borders on the absurd. Tracks like the opener The Return freely but with sudden bursts wanders between soothing folk tunes and rough woodworks of distorting resonance.

"It plays like an incongruous light show designed at the very back of your mind..."

Peeping through the gaps in the floorboards reveals a theme to the album, the duality of smooth and coarse, essence and substance. The authenticity achieved by the sincerity and emotion with which Messenger perform their music is laudable, and by far one of the most substantial focal points of Illusory Blues. It plays like an incongruous light show designed at the very back of your mind, and while the esoteric nature mentioned earlier does mean it's a tough first listen, there's no getting around how well-written the album as a whole is.

Although I feel the first single from the album, Somniloquist, outshines the rest of the individual songs it is only the result of that track being the most easy to become acquainted with. The lead singer's fragile, cautious vocals play against the myriad instrumentation centred around effect-filled guitars like fine silk against raw wood. Messenger's debut is an album well worth getting into.


Released in 2014 by Svart Records


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