REVIEW: IHSAHN – “Pharos” [EP]
Listening to Ihsahn has always been an experience of comfort. Irrespective of whether it is his heavy and headbanging music or the side of his music that takes a clear experimental side. Overall, Ihsahn’s musical genius has aged like fine wine over the years. The clarity in his songwriting is quite spectacular. This is quite evident in his newest offering – ‘Pharos’. ‘Pharos’ as a record is an accompaniment to Ihsahn’s ‘Telemark’. Oppositions in tensions and contrasts in colour is one easy way of looking at how these two records work to relate with each other.
The tracks on ‘Pharos’ features three originals and two covers. Jumping right in, the record opens up with “Losing Altitude”- a texture-rich song filled with granular sounds that set a very calm demeanour as an opening track. It does not entirely sound dark, but there’s definitely an air of seriousness to the music. The electro groove in the music coupled with the beautiful chord voicing on the guitar topped with the warm singing makes this track a really smooth trip leading up to brief heavy sections. The chorus sections are definitely nostalgic of musical arrangements of the ’80s with its flow and progressions. “Spectre At The Feast” is an interesting song. It makes the music of the record sound a little more complex with its songwriting and arrangements. While the instrumental sections are by themselves very intense, it is the singing that seems to keep the song together, keeping it memorable.
The title track “Pharos” is the last inline of the originals on this record. The song brings together subtle granular ambience, heavier moods courtesy the guitar and bass and a soft pulse by the groove on the drums. One can’t help but admire how enamouring Ihsahn’s voice really is on this track. The song then leads up heavier sections featuring a choir that brings down the rain and suddenly opens up to bright sounding melodic sections, almost as if a storm suddenly vanished only to eventually return. “Roads” by Portishead and “Manhattan Skyline” by A-ha are the two covers on this record. The covers sound truly beautiful with stellar vocal performances by Ihsahn. Of course, needless to say, the instrumental arrangements are quite enjoyable too as they do justice, or rather pay tribute to the originals while staying relatively close to the originals while maintaining Ihsahn’s stylistic choices.
‘Pharos’ by Ihsahn is yet another beautifully crafted work of art by the man himself. This is an album one can unwind to, that one could think to, that one can always find something new about it and really enjoy the experience. With ‘Pharos’, Ihsahn drives in the complexity of composition as art in very subtle ways that are not over the top and disruptive- a true mark of a very experienced and mature musician and above all, a mark of an accomplished artist. The different sections of the music seamlessly blend in together despite considerable differences in what is going on with the music. What is pretty cool is that Ihsahn is able to take what would be considered as experimental sounds and composition and boil it down to make the music memorable and, well, it does stay in your head. The production is clean and focused. There’s nothing about this record that sounds silly in the mix or commercial but yet, one can insist the appeal of this sound is absolutely universal. ‘Pharos’ by Ihsahn is dynamic and captivating and quite an enjoyable experience.