Voluptas Mors – Immortality – Album Review
Definitely one of the names out there in the music-universe that I sincerely look forward to popping on to my playlist, the trip-hop/electro-chill music of Voluptas Mors is certainly always welcome here. After delivering an absolutely fantastic adventure in sound just last year with the release of four full-length records, including Imagination, which we reviewed here at the ol’ homepage – this incredible band is already back in the mix in 2018 with Immortality. Anyone else out there notice that every album they’ve released begins with the letter I? That’s no accident I’m sure…Voluptas Mors thinks of every move they make and their stunning attention to detail in music always leads to an incredibly rewarding & unforgettable listening experience. I have no reason to doubt that they’ll once again rise to the occasion on Immortality – the core duo of Ramon & Laura might be the busiest musicians I can even think of at this point, but they’ve never once sacrificed quality or cut a single corner when it comes to their music.
Joining the Immortality project, vocalists Jem Strickland and Alexandra lend their talents to Voluptas Mors…and just like everything you’ll hear in this entire project, wouldn’t you know it, they’re a perfect fit for the music no matter what song you end up listening to on this record. Like I was saying – stunning attention to detail! Even though Laura and Ramon don’t supply the vocals themselves, they still have an intense understanding of the exact sound they’re looking to put out there into the world and make insightfully wise choices in finding voices like Alexandra and Jem to confidently bring another dimension to the style & sound of Immortality through their own vibrant character, charisma, & charm on the mic. Both singers execute at an incredible level…and together, this collaborative effort goes on to create another highly memorable set of tunes throughout the lineup of nine amazing audio experiences.
In that highly stylistic, artistic, and spectacularly innovative approach we know and love, Voluptas Mors begins Immortality with “So I Scream” featuring Alexandra on the mic to welcome you into the new record. LISTEN to the way this atmosphere opens-up! We’re talking about the quintessential sound of real trip-hop at its finest as “So I Scream” begins…and when that beat kicks-in just past the first minute, I mean, c’mon people…it gives it that added punch to induce that hazy & classic vibe that floats dreamily throughout the genre. The music is absolutely stunning to listen to, Alexandra is wildly expressive and versatile on the mic like Esthero is, and overall this first track immediately reminds us of the extremely high bar that Voluptas Mors sets for themselves, yet also how relentlessly they exceed all expectations. Love that first drift into the electro post-vocals right at the thirty-second mark and again at the first minute, love the string sounds that eventually join in the next time it happens. Inside & outside of the vocals, “So I Scream” shows just how deep this project can run, right off the drop from the moment this track begins until its final moments…if you’re anything like me, you’re 100% stoked to have Voluptas Mors radiating through the speakers already in 2018 & hoping they’ll be just as productive as 2017 was.
What else can be said here? Honestly? “Find Yourself” is a masterful audio experience from beginning to end, delivering through an incredible structure designed to get the maximum in sound through your speakers at all times. Voluptas Mors will transition and switch the energy effortlessly as they transition between parts of this textural second tune from Immortality. Listen to the fine-tuned details in the pitch shifting in tones you hear, or the clever production/effects on the vocals of Alexandra, the mind-blowing use of space in the music and how consistently they all find the right energy to punch it up whenever the song requires that extra-something. Right around the 1:45 mark…pure sonic perfection – I absolutely love the way this song’s slow-burning intensity continues to add the right amount of tension in contrast to the exquisite mix of sounds we hear. “Find Yourself” might be slightly less accessible than some of the rest when it comes to the hooks I suppose, but by that same token, every moment we hear is once again maximized to its full potential. It’s the stunning clarity in sound, the impressive mix, the backing layers & atmosphere, the vibrant vocals from Alexandra – combined it’s all as captivating as any hook.
The bass groove on “Is This The World We Want?” is insanely addictive. The noteworthy performance put in by Jem Strickland on the mic definitely deserves credit as well…coming after those sparkling initial cuts featuring Alexandra sets the standards way up high, and then ol’ Jem here is like, ‘hold my beer’ as he goes on to execute one of the most artistic, stylistic, & catchy highlights on the record. You gotta hand it to this dude for the performance he gets out of himself on “Is This The World We Want?” – when Jem’s not bending and shaping the words & syllables of this tune at his sheer want & will, he’s creating a seriously intense vibe through the added rasp in his vocals as he turns up the heat. Switching flawlessly between his lower register and outstanding falsetto notes – everything we hear builds this track to one of the most extraordinary transitions on Immortality, when “Is This The World We Want?” flips the switch once more, with the music heading into a completely MASSIVE third minute journey and smooth exit to the end. The energy that this track climbs into is a force to be reckoned with.
I want it stated for the record at least, that you can’t lose no matter which singer is singing – “Is This The World We Want?” just happened to seriously stand out for all kinds of reasons in the songwriting, structure, and atmosphere. I have just as much confidence in Alexandra when she’s on the mic – she brings incredibly cool dynamics to her technique when singing “Let’s Move On” and always has tones that your ears are EXCITED to listen to. Not to be outdone, Alexandra comes out swinging with an incredible mix of angelic & artistic tones, singing confidently and clearly feeling the electro-groove that Ramon & Laura have executed so spectacularly, as we’ve been accustomed to expect at this point. There is ALWAYS an amazing amount of depth in the music of Voluptas Mors…”Let’s Move On” is another example of traditional hooks not being the dominant focus and how they still come out winning with something your ears will genuinely want to listen to. “Let’s Move On” is full of brilliant dynamics shifting & moving through the sound of the music & Alexandra has given another inspired performance.
“The Fire Is Burning Inside Me” has one of those really classic vibes that you can feel building the intensity creeping into from the moment it starts. Really clever use of the electro sounds & the low-end vibe that supplies the rhythm…smart contrast between the two sounds and they’ve found an exceptional way of joining them together in complete harmony. This song has several pivotal moments that continually raise the stakes along the way from the beat that starts-up around ninety-seconds in, to the saxophone sounds that enter the minute about a minute later, to the amazing use of vocal samples to build the finale – Voluptas Mors sounds absolutely spectacular in the groove they create on “The Fire Is Burning Inside Me.” The jazzy attitude that so perfectly infiltrates the vibe here is truly stunning as stunning gets…I’ve been more than satisfied with everything I’ve heard from this crew once again in listening to Immortality, but in my opinion, “The Fire Burning Inside Me” is a serious highlight on this new record of theirs, smack dab in the middle of the lineup to keep this album flowing brilliantly.
Jem comes back to the record for “You’re Off My Mind” – and for what it’s worth, I think he does a great job on the mic once again, though this time around, it took me a bit longer to get into the vibe here, at least in comparison to the last time we heard him on “Is This The World We Want?” For this particular cut, it wasn’t even the vocals that really saved it for me so much as it was the music that came to the rescue. When the saxophone came in around 1:20, I became insanely hooked once again…which led to the smoothness in Jem’s vocals being more readily accepted that second time around. Overall, there’s a chilled-out vibe running smoothly through “You’re Off My Mind” with Jem doing his best impression of David Gahan in that perfect mix of moodiness & melody hanging in the air with each line he sings. Real hats off to the saxophone sounds though…I’ve loved that sound on the last two songs of Immortality.
I think it’s also important to recognize that, what might become a B-side for you from this set of songs on Immortality would also likely be an A-side on any other record out there. Voluptas Mors sets an incredible standard of quality for themselves and for the trip-hop genre overall truthfully – at times that can work against them a little bit…it becomes tougher for “You’re Off My Mind” and “Take The Time” to stand-out probably as much as they should. Good tunes both of them, but tougher for them to make the impact they should make when surrounded by such incredible material from either side. I think “Take The Time” has a really unique vibe that incorporates a lot of extremely impressive textures into the sound of the music, I think Alexandra does as great a job as she always does…if anything, I think the energy of the record gets a bit sleepier between the chilled nature of “You’re Off My Mind” flowing into “Take The Time” and it’s not really until the chorus of the latter that sparks begin to start flying again. So…you know…doubled-edged sword I suppose…those looking for the chilled-out cuts of Voluptas Mors will really enjoy how the second half of the record begins gradually building steam again. “Take The Time” has a seriously bombastic and electronically-charged ending, so for those of you that dig their more intense beats, it’s not like they keep you waiting long.
“Don’t Be Afraid” has excellent percussion elements and a massively, spaced-out, BIG beat that guides its cautious, careful, & precise movements. I think Alexandra gives a fantastic performance on this song, owning that space with a noteworthy turn on the mic that adds a ton of melody into the mix here. I think the verse is strong, I think the chorus is even stronger & the way that she uses the main title in the vocals there is wonderfully hypnotic. The distant…hmmm…I’ll just say flute-like sounds that are set way off in the background in comparison to the beat & the vocals of the chorus are a brilliant addition to the song. Love it when Alexandra takes a bar or two to hum the melody before busting into the next verse and the overall dreamy/floaty atmosphere that’s been created on “Don’t Be Afraid” – for a mid-tempo tune, I felt like this is a track you really notice. Great mix of electro-melody here…between the vocals and the music there’s a perfect harmony and balance that gives the lyrics that extra empowered & confident emotion that brings the words to life. Loved the pace, loved the sound…I think it’s a highlight for the music & Alexandra for sure, as well as a great track to set up the grand finale of Immortality.
Sometimes it’s the little things that give you clues and tell you just how incredible a moment is about to become. Listen to the clever production that begins the final track, “Turn Off Your Mind” and how smartly the gentle sound of a record revolving is used there…subtle enough to just hear the character and crackle add to the texture of the music. Jem takes one final turn at the microphone, rising to this last challenge and turning up the alternative-edge in his voice to take “Turn Off Your Mind” in a different direction than any of the earlier tunes on Immortality, but still close enough in sound to fit perfectly at the end here in this final transition of sound. Jem sounds like the dude that sings for Cold…some people are going to say the dude from Disturbed (Especially cause of the whole ‘Sounds Of Silence’ thing) but not me…I’m not saying it wouldn’t be somewhat accurate, I’m just saying there’s every reason to dig Cold more than anyone should ever dig Disturbed. Anyhow…I digress & you get the point I’m sure – Jem gives this last song on Immortality a brooding but powerful dynamic that draws on the spectacular technique & tone of his voice to reach the most gripping moments of “Turn Off Your Mind.” I think the slightly darker turn that the music takes works wonders as an ending to Immortality and adds yet one more incredible dimension to the Voluptas Mors sound overall. The breakdown is stunning, the bring-back is powerful…”Turn Off Your Mind” never goes over-the-top, but instead rather adopts a haunting atmosphere that sticks to your bones…smart string sounds and piano notes give you the chills as the album enters its final minutes and Immortality ends with the memorable impact it was seeking to deliver. Another really well done record from this incredible crew…I continue to believe there’s every reason to support Voluptas Mors as one of the most exciting projects the trip-hop genre has to offer – Immortality is further proof that this hardworking duo and the talent that collaborates with them will ALWAYS bring something amazing to your speakers and give you multiple reasons to listen & enjoy.
Find out more about Voluptas Mors from their official homepage at: http://voluptasmors.com/