8 years, 8 damn years! That’s what I thought when I first read that the long-anticipated 4th album by the Italian indie rockers Klimt1918 would finally see the light of day on December 2nd, 2016. 8 years had passed between this release and the previous album “Just in case we’ll never meet again”. I reminisced how I first came into contact with this band in 2008, having received a flyer announcing their album with my latest order at Prophecy Productions. I felt intrigued, downloaded it somewhere, burnt it onto CD, and listened to it alone and with friends during my summer holidays at the Lake Millstatt in Carinthia, Austria. Memorable moments! Afterwards, I also got their previous albums, and since then they have been a steady companion throughout my life, with alternating periods of intense listening and sheer ignorance or unawareness.
Needless to say that I have been ardently looking forward to their next release since 2008, but somehow it took them longer than hoped for. In 2011, posts on their website said that the new album might be entitled “Sentimentale Jugend”, and that this album would be Berlin-themed, which rose my interest even more as Berlin is my hometown. But since then, more than 5 years passed until the final release. Good thing is: My expectations decreased by time, so that I was ready for some surprise, which I consider a positive thing as we succumb to our expectations way too often.
But back to the present. Previous to the release, the influences of the album were revealed in more detail, but as I was unaware of the style and mood of David Bowie’s Berlin trilogy, the Cocteau Twins or even Einstürzende Neubauten, this didn’t really give me an idea except of the possible overall mood related to a foggy wintry Berlin in the 70s and 80s. But the music finally clearly did, and that’s what matters.
The first part of this double album, named “Sentimentale”, starts with the song “Montecristo”, which is dedicated to Edmond Dantes of Alexandre Dumas’ famous novel. It is slowly building up walls of sound that sound somewhat uplifting while the story is told. It is an interesting piece to start the album with, it somehow has the character of an intro, but it surely isn’t very accessible or even catchy. In general, while listening to the following songs, it became clear that their style definitely had evolved during all these years. The brightness, the catchiness and the radio-apt lengths of the songs from “Just in case…” are almost gone, and so is the naivety that I connect to the general mood of the previous album. These new two albums are definitely more mature, while also bearing signs of resignation. So these albums are even more personal, intimate than the previous ones, which becomes clear if you read along the lyrics.
The foggy pictures of the albums’ artwork reflect in the music very well. As with the pictures, you have to take a closer look, delve into the fog to perceive all that is there, all the dripping emotions that emanate from the delayed and reverberated guitar walls that dominate this album. Interestingly, the bass and the drums aren’t that distant and distorted, and especially the bass lines make up an important, driving force that leads you through the songs, while the drums make up the beat, “the beat”, as you can hear in a sample in “Caelum Stellatum”. The vocals contribute to the walls of sound, sometimes being in front of them, sometimes simply being a part of them, while always being overlain by effects that make them sound distant. They are always audible, but it is hard to follow the lyrics during the first listens. So take a read. Take your time to listen to this album multiple times to get to all of the details you might miss if you didn’t. And if you do listen exactly, you will hear some difference in the vocals of the bonus song “Lycans”, which is due to Simone Salvatore from Spiritual Front singing it!
I’ve never heard something similar exactly, but I also had my associations, for sure. The build-up of several songs clearly shows post-rock influences, but the atmosphere is different. The Raveonettes came to my mind several times, especially in songs like “Unemployed & Dreamrunner”, and the overall atmosphere resembles that of their album Observator, while being more obscure and less trendy. The Editors also came to my mind, and particularly the songs with highly prominent bass lines like “Gaza Youth” and “Lycans” are a most-welcomed mixture of In This Light And On This Evening and An End Has A Start. During other episodes of this work I felt myself reminded of Alcest’s Shelter and Les Discrets’ Septembre et Ses Dernieères Pensées as well as of a dirtier version of Grave Pleasures’ Dreamcrash album during more post-punkish songs like “Juvenile”.
I particularly like the second album more, because it is faster, more direct, and surely catchier. Somehow these songs resonate more. It also might be due to the use of brass instruments, which are an amazing contribution to the atmosphere, especially in “Resig/Nation”.
If you liked their previous albums very much and hoped for something similar, then you should probably start with songs such as “Sentimentale”, “Juvenile”, “Resig/Nation”, “Fracture” or the new version of their old demo song “Passive”, now called “Sant’Angelo”, before being able to appreciate the new sound, the new depths.
To conclude, this is an amazing piece of music. It is not as accessible as the previous releases, but in the end this is a good thing, because this excessive summary of 8 years of work adds a completely new aspect to their discography, giving them more depth and, hopefully, critical acclaim.