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REVIEW: Prag 83 – “Fragments Of Silence”

Prag 83 is the project of German musician Herr K, and was originally conceived to pay homage to the legendary writer Franz Kafka. Fragments of Silence is the successor to his first Prag 83 album, Metamorphosis, and continues in the same emotive, melodic vain. This new album also has the added benefit of guest vocals from female singer Ulrike Fissel.

So what’s it like stepping into this record? Its tone is so mild that ‘stepping’ seems like too strong a word. It’s more like wading barefoot through the fallen leaves of a gentle, proggy woodland. Prag 83 has a deep, vibrant folkiness that is somewhat minimalist but delivered to great effect. It is a subdued but mood filled journey, where sublime vocals, diverse guitars and restrained percussion are all this endeavor needs. Sometimes the melodies are straightforward; other times they are more complex and mystical. The drums, when they do appear, are steady, patient and often distant.

One could say that Fragments Of Silence starts off relatively generic, but it gets a great deal more interesting as the album progresses. The simple opening of “Animae” gives nothing away at first. But it isn’t long before the captivating components fall into place one after another. The duet vocals of Herr K and Ulrike Fissel set the tone in “Passers By”, and, with some crashing drum beats, it’s actually the ‘noisiest’ song on the album. Following this, the vocals are consistently soft and reflective.

Fragments Of Silence is folk in the great tradition crossed with just the right dose of proggy mysticism. There are many moments which prog death fans may relate to, especially as this record conjures up styles and moods touched on by works such as Opeth‘s 2003 album Damnation and the later 2012 Årkerfeldt/Wilson collaboration, Storm Corrosion. Third track “The Silent Earth” is possibly the best example of this.

This record may also serve to appease those non-metal-inclined friends of ours who take pleasure in the melodic moments of our favorite prog death/black metal records, but then recoil in dismay at the harsh vocals and loud guitars. Prag 83 can be pitched as a tale of beauty which, in this instance, has no hint of beast.

Some nice spacey guitars kick in on “Animae II” and draw in a kind of fantastical element to the music. There is a sudden, gorgeous cleverness to the guitar melodies, both in tone and in playing; these melodies are propelled further forward in “A Dream.” This song is my personal favorite from the album. It marks a culmination of the record’s best ideas, and the lyrics are extremely thought provoking.

Things move firmly back into the mellow with “Roads,” initially released as a taster for the album last year. It swiftly fades into the dreamy acoustic ballad of “The Silent Earth II.”  Then we get one final spacey hit in the form of “Animae III.”

Fragments Of Silence is so unbelievably free of abrasiveness that it’s hard to imagine anything with a dark folk description being so smoothly captivating. Herr K draws from some really simple influences, but in turn creates something so infallibly wonderful that I at least found it impossible to walk away from. For those reflective contemplative moments in life, Fragments Of Silence is the perfect album to drift your unease away.

 

Score: 9.5/10

Notable Tracks: “Animae II”; “Dreams”; “Roads”

FFO: Opeth, Storm Corrosion, Darkher

You can hear Fragments Of Silence and Prag 83‘s previous work on their Spotfiy and Bandcamp sites. You can also check out their videos, along with other Nordvis releases on the Nordvis YouTube channel.

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