John Von Braunsberg is the one and only member for the project The Haunting. For the last couple of years he has been working on an instrumental album entitled Nightmare, which was released at the beginning of this year. According to Von Braunsberg Nightmares is a first person telling of a series of depression, night terrors and the attempt at treating these disorders with uncertain consequences. The album is supposed to go through a series of chapters that leaves the listener unsure of how the story ends.
I have ambivalent feelings about how Von Braunsberg set this up. For one thing his story has an arc but not one single word is uttered the entire duration of the album. The reality is if Von Braunsberg never mentioned what the story was about I would have never in a million years guessed what these songs were supposed to conjure in my mind.
Von Braunsberg is simply giving us a guiding light as to what we are inclined to be thinking or imagining about when the songs plays. Would it be better if listeners were given no description and free to roam their own minds for the meaning the sounds give them? It's a debate that could be argued either way.
I personally like music to wash over me like a wave and dictate where the journey goes. It leaves my mind open to the innate feelings that arise and dissipate. Regardless, of the themes that Von Braunsberg presents in the linear notes the journey is certainly worth taking. It’s intense, heavy and by the end you feel emotionally drained.
Von Braunsberg mixes up electronic, dark production with intense shoegaze infused metal. As i was listening to the album I was reminded of a number of different bands such as Deafheaven, The Notwist and Nine Inch Nails. Von Braunsberg nails a couple of highs that transition from waves of post-rock inspired white noise to straight up metal to serene tranquility. He also doesn’t mind breaking it down to industrial type synths that sound like a post-apocalyptic factory.
The album kicks off with “Chapter I: Hypnagogia,” which shows off a majority of his different sides. Warm pads combine with hard-hitting drums and intricate percussion. It’s thought out and well produced. Once the chorus comes in, it hits hard. The quick left to right panning of the guitar was an effective technique.
Some songs such as “Chapter IV: Somnambulistic” and “Chapter V: Postulation” are intense cathartic purges while “Chapter VI: Benzodiazepine “ is a sprawling ambient sloth that contains ambiguous layers of sound.
Nightmares is the kind of journey that I don’t need in constant rotation. That’s not meant to be a bad thing but for me the album works better when used sparingly. These aren’t pop songs that get stuck in your end. Like a David Lynch movie these songs are interpretative, complex and don’t leave you with a comforting feeling when you are through. Recommended.
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