Where to begin? is the question posed by Inner – Space, ISON‘s 2019 venture into a musical cosmos commonly referred to as drone, post black metal or shoegaze. Musical is a term used purely out of practicality; Inner – Space successfully avoids any kind of genre conformity or comparisons, ISON simply chose to offer their artistic vision as an audible recording. Like the universe, with which the lyrics are mostly concerned with, ISON‘s music has no beginning or end, no up or down, no left or right. Where to begin? is the question Inner – Space asks, just for the listener to find out they either already began or were never there to begin with.
In this spirit, the tracks on Inner – Space seamlessly blend together into one composition, which happens to be ISON‘s first full length record after two EPs, which could as well have been albums themselves. In the band’s music, there is no beginning or end, and one is found listening to Andromeda Skyline, ISON‘s second EP, several times in a row without noticing the coming and going of such conventional ideas as opening and ending tracks and discovering new aspects along the way. Inner – Space extends this concept to the length of one hour, or as many hours as the listener is inclined to spend their time with the record. The content escaping the speakers is much less of a musical nature than pure atmosphere and emotion. Whereas other band’s songs could make you feel happy, sad, nostalgic or affect you in other ways, ISON simply dominate your feelings. There is just one way to feel when listening to Inner – Space, and that is feeling lost. Lost in the music as much as lost in the universe. Unassuming keyboard layers rival the faint glow of dying light of far away suns, the slow and scattered drums reach the listener’s ears as if transmitted through lightyears of dead space, colliding planets in galaxies far away.
There is no definition to ISON‘s music, it is more experience than music. If Inner – Space was a film, it would be staring into the void of the universe for hours on end, if it was a book, its black pages would be blank, only to be filled by the projection of the viewers thoughts. Elusive is the word to describe the music and the band; in ISON‘s world the musicians are irrelevant to the experience. Yes, both Daniel Änghede and Heike Langhans are names to be reckoned with in the extended black and doom metal genres, but with ISON the two deliver an epiphany which happens to take form as Inner – Space. As such, the band’s 2019 record is hard to compare to conventional albums released this year following rather mundane musical structures, but if it was allowed to compete in all its abstract nature, it would be album of the year to me. And as I am not a fan of genres and pigeonholing, Inner – Space is simply that: the best and most compelling piece of music released this year.
Format reviewed: mp3 320 kBit/s
Release date: 08/2019