Blackgaze has been one of my favorite genres for quite some time now. I can’t tell if it’s the melancholy atmosphere or the ethereal sounding instrumentals that draw me to the genre, but I find the many facets of this particular subgenre fascinating. But then there are band like Stiu Nu Stiu, the band which has brought us the album Fake End on the 18th of November, which has brought so much more into this style of music than what I already mentioned. While the album definitely possesses the ambiance typical for the genre, it isn’t as claustrophobic and overwhelming; the songs breathe and feel dynamic. The vocals reminded me of power-pop stylistically and are usually clean. There are also certain post rock elements in the LP which gives it a calmer texture than similar albums.
The first track I want to talk about is “Cloud Of Piss” which demonstrates the aforementioned points quite well. The rather vulgarly titled track starts off with a half distorted guitar playing a short riff, which sounds like something that came straight out of the OST of a Quentin Tarantino movie. It sets the tone for the song rather well because it is so ambient and mellow that it sounds like the soundtrack to your own life. You have to really let the song sink in. If you do that, it has an almost hypnotic, trance-inducing effect. Right when the vocals set in, this point gets further illustrated. While most vocals are in the foreground, the female vocals on Fake End blend in neatly with the instrumentals. I usually don’t talk much about the vocals, but the whisper-screaming combined with the power pop style singing just feels so natural and well blended that it acts more like another instrument. The instrumentation in the chorus also ties in very well with the ethereal voice heard throughout the record. Moving along the fine line between harmony and repulsiveness, the band creates a unique melancholic atmosphere that evokes so many emotions at once.
As one goes through other songs on the LP, he or she will eventually stumble upon “Memo”. A lengthy intro sounding like it’s coming from an old tape recorder introduces the listener to one of the nosiest tracks on the album. Drum rolls soon kick in and the guitar and bass pick up the pace. The constant monotone beat of the instruments sounds like machinery working in the background. The song feels like a dystopic version of a pop song. Female vocals bring in a little bit of clarity to this dark sludge-filled track. Three and a half minutes in, the guitar roars and goes on to play an almost avant-garde style solo. After that, “Memo” slows down exponentially until it comes to a very drawn out end. Stiu Nu Stiu really knows how to build atmosphere and bring the songs on the verge of chaos and dissonance.
Overall, I really enjoyed Fake Ends. Stiu Nu Stiu has created an impressive, cinematic and dynamic album. The album has minor flaws production-wise, especially when it comes to blending the instruments together. The liveliness of the ambiance and the organic sound of the LP make it very welcoming. While it is certainly not for everyone, the album certainly has something to offer to many listeners. I’m really looking forward to hearing more from this band and wish them the best of luck.
Score: 9/ 10
Notable Tracks: “Cloud Of Piss”; “Memo”