Review: The Golden Filter – Völuspà

We’ve been most excited in anticipation of The Golden Filter’s debut release. The teaser tracks were very promising and the purity of the electronics, the crackling sound and the lovely tone of Penelope Trappes’ voice added up to a great potential. The actual album realizes some of said potential though it remains somewhat hit and miss.

If there’s a major flaw with the release is the noticeable lack of heart and passion. There is a cold, calculating quality to the entire clutch of tunes here. Now this is electronic music we’re talking about and many of the greatest classic genre artists have perfected the art of cold (Kraftwerk, Gary Numan, Fad Gadget, early Human League, anyone?) but Softsynth tends to prefer electronic music with a little more emotional dredging. That said, there is great beauty in finely sculpted ice.

This stands out because when they choose to amp things up slightly it’s heaven. “Dance Around the Fire”, “Solid Gold”, the clever and wonderfully constructed  “Hide Me”and “Look Me in the Eye” are sublime. When they go sleepy it tends to make one feel like you’re braced, waiting for things to pick up again. A state of bated anticipation is not what you necessarily want from listeners. The songcraft here is lovely. Stephen Hindman is a wonderful composer and his little touches like the pizzicato string effect on “Dance Around the Fire” are often surprising and always welcome. There’s an amazing attention to detail on each and every track that makes one realize why they are in demand as remix artists. The lyrics are highly literate (if occasionally a touch pretentious) and overall they blend shockingly well with the soundscapes Hindman has created. It’s a great example of collaborative song writing. The music is hard to categorize with its elements of trance, techno, synthpop and disco but this ultimately serves the album well as it gets to draw upon the best of each sub-genre.

Ultimately this is a beautiful, wonderfully constructed album with a few too many moments when the momentum slows to a crawl. But as a whole it’s a great debut and a very welcome addition to the electronic community. We look forward to their continued efforts to step out from behind the remix desk into becoming fully realized artists in their own right. Voluspa isn’t a perfect album but it’s a pretty good one and gives us a taste of some greatness in the offing.

Watch: Hide Me

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