ISON are a young Swedish group comprised of Daniel Änghede (Crippled Black Phoenix, Hearts of Black Science) and Heike Langhans (Draconian, LOR3L3I) that specializes in very spacey sounds. After previously releasing two EPs, they are now back with their first full-length album. INNER – SPACE further cements the band’s trademark blend and takes it a little further. For the lack of better words, I’d say that stylistically we’re dealing with something between doomgaze and ambient music, woven on top of a post-rock foundation with electronic shreds scattered throughout.
INNER – SPACE spans just a minute over an hour, and my only complaint about it is that it’s not longer. This will become more obvious as I delve into the actual music. Each of the eight songs that are present on the album contours a part of the enthralling and soothing aural painting that is INNER – SPACE. I’d like to start off by pointing out that the timbres of the utilized sounds could not be any more rich and appropriate, which is truly rewarding since technically, the record explores the deep nuances of these sounds and how they interact with each other.
The record starts out on an expansive tone, immediately tapping into the the far-out depth of the mood that pervades it throughout. “Inner – Space” successfully immerses us into this setting, which we may not escape even well after the album has ended. This impossible to define mood walks the border between losing oneself to the immensity of existence and coursing through the infinitely riveting microcosm of one’s own innards; the latter is only reinforced by the suggestive title of the album. “Radiance” continues to develop this full-bodied sensation, radiating with a subdued intensity akin to witnessing an explosion from so far away that no sound or shockwave is felt. The song also features a guest appearance from Alcest‘s very own Neige.
Heike Langhans’s charming and almost ghostly angelic voice adds an alluring and dreamy atmosphere to the mix. Her voice also drives the melodic end of the textural developments with an ethereal grace. Whenever she is silent, the synths come to the foreground to animate whatever space is left untouched – whenever it starts feeling like there is some weight missing from the song or that things may be meandering, a muffled riff comes along to add that necessary density. That muffled riff, which recurs in various forms, is also the only thing that basically lends any metal or rock edge to the whole affair.
As we near the end of this journey, we hear how things are being progressively more drenched in reverb and delay, further emphasizing the tranquil vibe. We also hear how the electronic beats are swapped with real drums. This is quite noticeable on “Everything’s About To Change Forever”, along with the more overt post-rock leaning in its delivery and structure. The album ends on a somewhat dream pop/synthwave-ish tone, leaving the listener to slowly ooze back into the dense material reality around them.
INNER – SPACE is an elegant, well-crafted trip that perfectly suits an introspective listener. It revels in its rather amorphous form, encompassing things that transcend words. ISON are doing the astral music thing right, and I’m sure that many will agree upon experiencing this album. As a fan of such things, I have rarely come across such compelling renditions of emotional and immaterial states. If you will, INNER – SPACE soothes the inner space as it takes one to outer space.