2006 / Neurodisc
Review by Michael Debbage
Celebrating the closing chapters of the dragonfly trilogy, Emblem is a retrospective collection of Amethystium music to date with a little twist. Featuring personal liner notes from the artist, the music has been re-mastered and also includes a couple of surprises making Emblem not only a good introduction to new fans but also enticing the established supporter.
Norway’s Oystein Ramfjord, better known as Amethystium, began creating his freshman effort Odonata in his late teens though it was not officially released until 2001 by which time he had turned 20. Much like his label mate, Ryan Farish, the insignia of Amethystium’ music revolves around swirling synthesizers, progressive drum loops and a rhythmic bass line. However the almost Gregorian chants fetch a mystical factor that differentiates him from the more optimistic Farish bringing comparison more in line with the ambient group Enigma. However, Amethystium conveys his own musical message.
Creating a retrospective will never please everyone as each individual has their own preconceived favorites. That said, Odonata and the most recent effort Evermind is represented by four tracks each while Aphelion is accredited five tracks to its name. To even the distribution, the album closes out with two bonus tracks that will entice even the Amethystium loyalists.
The first surprise is “Meadowlands” that was previously recorded for a 2000 demo around the time of the Odonata sessions. According to the personal liner notes the melody line is intact however it is a re-working of the recording process. In addition, there is the closing track “Anthemoessa” that was created during the Evermind sessions or thereabouts, but for whatever reason did not make the album. Neither tracks represent after thoughts but rather continue to display Ametheystium’s unique ability to integrate melancholy mystical ambient themes with just enough melodic sensibilities to keep matters accessible.
Emblem essentially closes the book on the dragonfly trilogy. It also represents the depth and integrity of an artist capable of composing with consistent high marks. For the established fans there might not be enough new material here to shell out their valuable consumer dollars however completists will find the decision an easy one. For the uninitiated this is a good place to find a new musical friend keeping in mind there is really no such thing as a “best of” when it comes to Amethystium. He really is consistently that good and that is an emblem to be proud of.
October 11, 2006