Music

Amethystium: Evermind

Mike Schiller

Evermind is Eden without the allure of the poison apple, and really, how interesting is that?.


Amethystium

Evermind

Label: Neurodisc
US Release Date: 2004-10-05
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

The first thing you notice is your feet. They're bare.

The thick, Crayola green grass is peeking through your toes, occasionally tickling the top of your feet. The two suns in the sky are peering over you, lending each feature of the vast landscape a pair of distinct, yet faint shadows. There's a crystal blue waterfall in the distance, pouring over jagged rocks into a translucent lake. Unicorns graze to your east, as the silhouettes of wood nymphs flit through the branches in the forest to the west. The ruby robes of two figures walk conspicuously toward the waterfall, as you notice the flowing fabric of your own sapphire-hued robe shining in the bright sunlight.

A single dragonfly appears in the distance, hovering, beckoning you with its tiny eyes..."Come closer."

This is the world of Evermind.

Amethystium is the brainchild of one Oystein Ramfjord, and the music herein falls squarely into the brand of atmospheric electronics popularized by such luminaries as Enigma and Delerium. Evermind is Ramfjord's third album (part three of the "Dragonfly Trilogy") under the Amethystium moniker, and his use of lush atmospherics with steady, relaxing beats appears to have been all but perfected in the time since his second album, Aphelion. The album overflows with pretty keyboard melodies, pretty string synths, and pretty whoosh noises as the wind blows in the listener's headphones. Indeed, it's all very, very pretty. 'Pretty' even seeps into 'utterly beautiful' in a few spots, as on album closer "Imaginatio", which features dueling melodies from a restrained electric guitar and a breathy female vocalist over gently pulsing synths. "Shadowlands" is just as lovely, with a solid mid-tempo beat and more of those vocals.

So sure, it's all rather nice, but it's in that constant beauty that lies the album's primary flaw. Where bands like Enigma and Delerium manage to succeed is in the integration of some darker elements, offsetting the lush landscape with some distant menace in the form of storm clouds. There's none of that distant dread to be found within Evermind's vast expanses, leaving it completely without conflict. It's Eden without the allure of the poison apple, and really, how interesting is that?

Repeated listens make the absence of darkness painfully obvious, as song after song of the beauty that started so subtly begins to feel like a nail to the forehead. If the guitar on "Imaginatio" is restrained, the one on "Break of Dawn" is positively castrated, to the point of sounding like just another synth melody. "Lost" brings on a flood of Velveeta, highlighting record scratches that never should have seen the light of day, probably as some sort of movement toward a contemporary urban sound -- a grave mistake when the predominant sound of the album is as far from urban as one could possibly get. Smattered throughout Evermind are a number ventures into "Sounds of the Rainforest"-style nature recordings, which are likely integral to Ramfjord's artistic vision, but come off as pretentious and a little bit distracting. It's all just a little bit too overt in its attempt to be pretty, calm, and relaxing.

The name 'Amethystium' itself evokes unknown lands, elves and epic clashes between good and evil on a grand scale. Unfortunately, Evermind is all good, a Middle Earth without a Sauron to antagonize it. Listening to the entirety of Evermind is enough to leave a listener headachy and a bit disoriented, a bit like eating four pounds of candy might -- it's nice enough as it's happening, but does anyone really need that much all at once? At the very least, there should be a cool drink of water in there to cleanse the palette.

5

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image