It’s a crime that Italian darkwavers Kirlian Camera have flown under the radar for the entirety of their 30-year career, pushing boundaries in the realms of gloomy synthpop and electronic experimentations. Boasting a discography as lengthy and diverse as the likes of Depeche Mode and The Cure, and crafting infectious pop songs that would be worthy of gracing any alternative dance floor, it’s surprising that the group’s latest offering, Black Summer Choirs, is in line with this continuum. But where new wave beats and pop hooks are found, they take the backseat to a new and bold frontier in Kirlian Camera’s sound.
Black Summer Choirs is slow, moody, and sultry—not a radical diversion from past ventures in sound, but it is eclipsed in sweeping orchestration and viewed through a cinematic lens. Opener “Silencing the World” is a lingering, echoing beat beneath vast string sections and Elena Fossi’s voice. This is a motif throughout the entirety of the album, crafting an atmosphere that is both noir and avant-garde in tone. Beats and grandeur are here in bits and pieces, but the focus of the album is baroque chamber music processed through synthesizers and electronic music. “Mysteria Obscura” is huge, choral, and laced with middle-eastern hints. The interludes that pepper the album, titled “Final Interview” 1, 2, 3, and 4, are mysteriously philosophical and apocalyptic. The creeping, trip-hop fueled “My Kids Kill” is amplified with somber hums and enormous symphonic themes.
But Black Summer Choirs is not without its zest for pop flair. Though still subtly multifaceted and arcane, “Heavens” is a trancelike electro number that bounces along with a reserved tone and cut up by morose piano pieces. “Farewell Road” takes a break from the esoteric explorations and settles as a morose neofolk number, featuring only Elena and a single acoustic guitar over brooding strings.
The duo of Elena Fossi and Ralf Jesek have been champions of creative fusion since 1999, since Jesek states is the dawning of a new era for Kirlian Camera. The trend of diverse themes and various dark sounds is the representation of two artists in perfect synergy with one another. Black Summer Choirs, in its new auditory gestures, is an extension of that synergy.