I first discovered Drymer through a 80s synthwave playlist on Spotify. Celadon – the opening track on the album, is one of those songs that makes you stop what you are doing and pay attention. It demands it. The track sets the scene for what is to come, and to say it does it with style doesn’t quite do it justice.
Speaking of Justice, you can’t help but make the comparison to one of France’s biggest electro duos – Celadon feels like a real homage to the entire ‘Cross’ album. It’s like a mix of Genesis, Waters Of Nazareth and Phantom all rolled into one. While Justice’s ‘Cross’ album went a little more disco, Drymer keeps things dark and melancholic throughout this album.
Pulling Me Down is one of the more upbeat tracks (well, apart from the lyrics)- dare I say ‘electro-pop’ in places, but Drymer keeps grounded in the roots of his sound, those organ samples and electric basslines making sure things don’t stray too far from the scenes set by Celadon.
I never thought I would hear Mendelssohn’s Wedding March in an electro tune, and well. It’s like somebody’s big day got hijacked by electronic demons. After the initial organs give way to a filthy bassline it drags you along for the ride, pausing momentarily for an eerie breakdown complete with creaking door and footsteps before plunging back into a dark riff. To say it’s atmospheric would put it mildly.
Time for a palate cleanser? Snow Blind is dominated by the beautiful vocals of Rachel Potter, and a lighter funkier bassline compliments nicely. This is one of the biggest tracks from the album purely for its more mainstream sound (it’s not likely to scare your grandma half to death with any surprise drops). An excellent chance to catch our breath ready for what’s to come.
Dead Sea adds more melancholic electro-pop to the mix, and while I found the original to be one of the weaker tracks on the album (perhaps coming straight after Rachel’s impressive work on Snow Blind hinders it a little) the Spectre remix takes it into a dark industrial space usually reserved for ‘songs likely to be played while John Wick is killing people’, it’s dark, heavy and incredibly cool.
Next track ‘Instinct’ seems to pick up on this vibe and follow suit accordingly, with some haunting organ lines and… is that a wolf howling? Creepy, dark, driving and awesome.
Nightfall is all about the haunting combination of the vocals and piano, only gaining any sort of beat around 75% through the song – and it makes sure not to detract from them, staying subtle and letting the softer melodies chill you to the bone.
Lilith is another track kicked off with a church organ, but this ain’t no ‘Wedding March’ – there’s a dark sense of foreboding and when the beat kicks in you’re left feeling someone who took a wrong turn and entered some dark sanctum. Then, just to reaffirm your fears the chanting starts about halfway through – you know – the kind that cultists chant before sacrificing some poor sod to the almighty Cthulhu. Then again maybe they are chanting something nice, it’s just I’ve spent more time reading Lovecraft than any religious tomes.
Beyond, the penultimate (although technically ultimate, I’ll get to that) song on the album, is one big crescendo, starting oh so softly, sadly, gentle, before building into something epic. Like the final scene of a movie. Building, building then we are back, leaving us with nothing but…
Silence. 1 minute of pure, uninterrupted almost deafening silence. The title of the track, a chance to reflect, a moment of peace in an otherwise busy world.
Verdict: Dark, devious, delightful French electro that will ensure you never look at a church organ in the same way ever again. A must for any fans of the genre with plenty of floor fillers I’ll be putting in my DJ sets for years to come.