They promised us a bright Future, we were content with an obscure past by Good Luck in DeathRelease date: May 25, 2018
Label: Nahal Recordings
Bias is something you should acknowledge as you prepare to immerse yourself into a new piece of work by a familiar artist. As with any language, musical syntax rests on a certain amount of context to create and elaborate emotion and meaning; some of the context is set up by the artists themselves, though most of it escapes their control entirely and relies on the listeners’ subjective filter. They Promised Us A Bright Future, We Were Content with an Obscure Past by Lebanese artist Charbel Haber and French electronic music producer Mondkopf (aka Paul Régimbeau) is a perfect example of subjective experience in music appreciation.
Whether it be with his solo efforts, his collaborative releases or simply his label’s artists, Mondkopf’s recent prolific streak has accounted for many of the most challenging releases I’ve heard in recent years, as a music enthusiast and a reviewer. Getting into this sophomore record under the Good Luck In Death moniker, I expected no different from this duo, although biased from previous experience with the assumption that my initial confusion will make way for a rewarding payoff.
I stress the importance of the assumption to merely and simply drive the fact that this record, with its somber, bare-boned and lengthy arrangements, is a challenging listen, at odds with most of our modern-day instincts. Minimalism and stasis are the two key-words that would best characterise Good Luck In Death: blankets of bowed guitars and Moog drones float and overlap gently on one another, breezing past like grey clouds in a dark sky, creating an ethereal space where time is brought to a halt.
The four tracks on the album do not unfold with the sense of progression that a regular musical piece would. Rather, each track on They Promised Us A Bright Future paints a still picture of a scene and invites us to engage with its textures, its environment, like a quadriptych altarpiece. Tracks are stretched out and build slowly, to the point where mood transitions happen seamlessly. The blissful peace on ‘Mystery Malaise And Eternal Spleen’ is slowly overtaken by darker, distorted sound, unveiling the albums’ true colours.
They Promised Us A Bright Future is beautiful but rarely comforting, dark but never aggressive.This is Ambient Music, a particularly meditative strain at that, unfit for on-the-go listens or any spare bit of attention you may have throughout your busy day. For these moments I can confidently say that this record will drift out of your busy mind and fall on deaf ears. They Promised Us A Bright Future and its stripped down arrangements and somewhat long-winded compositions will not speak to everyone. Your appreciation of an Ambient album greatly depends on how long you’re willing to surrender yourself to the mood, and Good Luck in Death isn’t exactly the most accessible act in the genre; their sophomore record is mysterious, vague yet purposeful and deliberate in what it unveils to its different listeners. Patience is key: your hearing will only reach as far as your willingness to listen.
They Promised Us A Bright Future is a participatory experience between an artist and its listener. What you get out of They Promised Us A Bright Future will depend on how much you’re willing to actively engage with it.