Review: Prag 83 – Fragments of Silence

Released just in time for the ill tidings that accompany the Ides of March, Fragments of Silence is the newest LP from Prag 83, the musical project of the mysteriously dubbed, Herr K. Fitting comfortably into the genre of neo-folk, the album is a plodding yet poignant journey into dark and, unfortunately, somewhat familiar territory, where the past and nature has been corroded by the new, and the oppressive spectre of the modern age looms heavily in the air.

A contemplative collection of songs, Fragments of Silence, which dropped March 9 via Nordvis Records, explores lyrical topics ranging from nostalgic wanderlust to mournful remembrance. The opening piece, “Animae,” sets the tone and the mood for the rest of the album with its foreboding and pseudo post-rock riffage. Herr K and accompanying vocalist Ulrike Fissel’s haunting voices express despair over the current path that humanity seems to find itself on and a longing for the freedom to stray from that path. Their delivery has a forlorn quality to it that suggests they’re not so much singing as they are reciting epitaphs to a forgotten past.

The creeping, reverberated guitars and percussion create an eerie atmosphere that hangs over the entire album like a mist above a dismal burial ground dedicated to painful memories and a dying world. Melancholic melodies paint the world presented here in simultaneously warm and sorrowful hues, washing the musical landscape in a certain sonic sepia tone. Occasionally, the music strays into more dissonant depths with riffs that are, at times, reminiscent of those one might find in black metal. Guitar passages in songs such as “Animae II” and “A Dream” have a particularly sinister quality to them, almost as if to suggest there is something even darker lurking within the foggy distance.

 

THE GIST: Fragments of Silence probably isn’t going to wind up on many listeners’ daily playlists. With its slow progression and markedly gloomy lyrical themes and musical qualities, it is perhaps best reserved for dreary days. However, if you do find yourself walking alone in the woods or the city streets on a rainy day, or if (like myself) this bleak brand of music happens to be your bag, this album is certainly worth a listen. Prag 83 is an excellent example of the neo-folk that has begun to emerge from Germany in recent years and Fragments of Silence is a darkly beautiful portrait of existential woes and fears.

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