*Limited edition of 300 copies.* “Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?” This quote from a poem by Edgar Allan Poe sums up the lamenting, primal work that is "All That We See or Seem"; a project conceived between Finland, England and Brazil. The self-titled album consists of two long-form pieces of droning mysticism hailing from the trio of Gruth (concept, production, electronics), Ellen Southern (vocals, field recordings, percussion) and Johanna Puuperä (violin, modular synthesizer, additional vocals).
The album opens straight into a thousand yard stare with “Myrskymielellä", adapted from a 1891 poem by the Finnish national poet, Eino Leino, who wrote it at the tender age of 13. Here a blank distant droning of synths and the sounds of flowing water hover underneath like a dark river observed from the air. This is a sound and feeling that will stay constant for the entirety of the piece´s thirty minute duration. It is a trance-inducing composition that slowly unfolds elements of pagan ancestry into its own life. At first, faint female vocals are introduced as distant spatial elements, which gradually advance into waves of cries and anguish as the piece progresses and moves further into the storm. The tranquility of the first half is slowly morphed into a full blown ceremony as driving ritualistic percussion and a foreboding witch-like presence shifts the piece into a Dead Can Dance-like territory. Here a constant enveloping mixture of violins, modular synths, field recordings and vocal screams creates the feeling of a grande finale. It is an astounding piece of music that develops like a drone symphony for the beginning of time.
With the second piece, “A Dream Within A Dream”, from Edgar Allan Poe´s 1849 poem, you are transported to the shores of an undisclosed island; a place where it´s only you, your thoughts and the endless emptiness. The continual sound of waves is soon brought together with a cloud of synths and mourning violins that will keep a steady dreamlike state during most of the piece´s duration. This time the wordless vocals feel almost angelic in their pageantry. The composition flows like a slow caress of the soul and feels like the spirit twin of Gavin Bryars' “The Sinking of the Titanic” with its lamenting slow movements towards the unknown.
Truly a ghost of a record, “All That We See or Seem” is an experience hard to shake and feels like entering sacred ground. We are in a place surrounded by earth, both ancient and present. "Let loose, Vanha, the rage of an earthly storm! Detach the elements, completely open the sky! In the Earth, let an incessant storm prevail, so that in my chest I would not feel the miserable pain” - Eino Leino