From a single gloomy idea rose what is amounting to be a virtual empire on the landscape of dark ethereal and ambient music. Erika and Ted, duo behind the enigmatic Autumn Tears, are also the driving force behind record label Dark Symphonies. This label is unleashing upon the musical audiences of the world some of the best dark ambient and ethereal music CDs. DS seems to have been created as a vehicle for the music of Autumn Tears, but like many small independent record labels have increased to the point of releasing new and re-releasing previously unavailable works from other bands of like styles.
But while I'd love to go on about the work of Dark Symphones (see my review of DS release Arise From Thorns, Before an Audience of Stars, in this issue) I must beg off of this because in this article we are discussing the work of the musical outfit that seems to have been the catalyst: Autumn Tears. With four releases, Love Poems for Dying Children, Acts I - III and Absolution, AT's legacy reaches as far back as late 1995. Their latest work, Love Poems for Dying Children, Act III: Winter and the Broken Angel, has received worldwide acclaim and became the ending of their previous Love Poems releases, closing a tapestry of dark imagery and depression-inducing ambience.
Combining elements of classic, ambience, ethereal and more to weave creations of frightening intensity, Dark Symphonies has put out a limited edition promo release that contain tracks that run the gamut off all four releases. Through the disc I found myself shifting moods, as the music held here rolls out around me, steeping me in a tangible sadness and washing me with tears.
First impressions of the music is that it's very churchy. Strong haunting vocals combined with classical style arrangement brings back medieval movements and scores. Poetic lyrics sometimes in spoken word form, but always passionate and full bodied.
The Grand Celebration (from Act III) is a powerful track to open this promotional sampler of their work. It ends abruptly and The Eloquent Sleep (Act I) begins a piano-driven score that I find very reminiscent of ambient work by Midnight Syndicate. The later bright piano melody that comes through above the chord hits and strings is brilliantly written and would appeal to fans of classical works from composers of old. Tracks like The Never shows the wide range that Erika is capable of, pushing the skills envelope for diva vocalists everywhere.
Of similar note is The Passion and the Fury (Act III), a wonderful duet aria. About halfway through the album Autumn Tears begins to mix in sound effects into their arrangements, using the sounds of rain, thunder and similar oft-used noises to good effect. The music also takes on an operatic and showmanship bent similar to what In Gowan Ring does on their earlier works. I love the piano melodies of Autumn Requiem (Act III). Simple yet moving, nimble and bright combining beautifully with the on-high sighs of vocal intonations. A strange track for AT, when you think of the much darker aesthetic that is imbued throughout the body of their work.
This My Melancholic Masquerade (Act II) is a surprising change from the past-world arrangements of the previous nine tracks. This one is decidedly synth-based, but retains a string quality to make it nonetheless mesh well with the other offerings here. But you'll find yourself suddenly being thrust into a much more modern setting here. The promo disc ends with Black Heaven (Act II), which is a very dark, frightening piece of music, something I'd more expect from Midnight Syndicate. It closes the CD on an evil bent.
Autumn Tears' music is certainly not for everybody. This is music for the introspective connoisseur, something to listen to as you delve deep down into yourself, whether it be for discovery or hiding. And while you'll find that you are being bombarded with brooding and melancholic arrangements, when all is said and done it has the effect of helping you realize that things can be much worse. It opens the gates of hopelessness and you realize that at least you still have some hope for yourself.
Post: DS Design and Promotions, P.O. Box 3500, Pflugerville, TX, 78691-3500
Phone/Fax: (512) 989-1608