Dark Baltic by PemëRelease date: July 15, 2019
Label: Etoka Records
The write-up for this album on Pemë’s Bandcamp page talks of how the recording of music is influenced by the place where it is recorded. It describes the contrast between music made in sunny climes of the Mediterranean compared to the harsh landscapes of Scandinavia. Anyone acquainted with black metal will know about the latter, while there are some famous examples of unique locations used by artists that have created a particular –usually dark – atmosphere. Dark Baltic was recorded on the shores of the Baltic Sea, which the band describe as beautiful and cold. And it’s fair to say that the rhythm of this album does mirror the rolling endlessness of the sea, with dark currents just below the surface.
Falling into the techno camp of EDM, Pemë’s music is at once instantly accessible, with a vaguely trancey groove that is bassy but not harsh, more ambient techno than something you’d dance to.
After the atmospheric opener ‘Dębki, Entrance no. 16’ the first track proper ‘Dark Baltic’ kicks in, and is clearly the best track on the album in terms of its late night Underworld-esque groove. This gets the listener’s attention and head nodding. It’s a cracking track that deserves to be heard: it’s mesmerising and hypnotic, as good electronic music should be. ‘Temple Of The Fog’ is all glitchy notes, with an urgent beat that moves it on a step from the previous track. The dreamy female vocals are fabulous, and make the track soar.
The tracks merge together with the smoothness of a mix, with ‘Temple…’ seguing effortlessly into the electro beat and dark atmospheric sounds of ‘Słony’. There then follows an extended track, the ‘Softness of Outlines Mix’, which on Bandcamp is labelled as being free to download, suggesting that it’s not part of the album proper. The mix is a re-run of the tracks from the album, sewn together and remixed, weaving the tracks around themselves. It’s a very pleasing addition to an otherwise short album, but weirdly the volume level of the mix is much quieter than that of the main tracks, which kind of makes it recede into the background without the listener noticing at first (that’s what happened to me). It also hints at a paucity of material for a full-length album.
So as an album of easy-on-the-ears techno Dark Baltic is well worth a punt as a digital download. The extended mix is a nice addition, as it keeps the vibe going a while longer. It’s just a shame that it feels bolted on and not particularly in step with the rest of the album, soundwise.