Bethlehem
Schatten Aus Der Alexander Welt

Bethlehem is one of those bands that I’ve just ignored over the years for various reasons. I know they played a kind of black doom in the past, but they seem to have taken a giant misstep emotionally during their last stay in the mental hospital. My first impression was what the fuck? I’m glad I did not waste any money on this shit. But a review is necessary, so I set it aside for a few days and then listened to it again.

I am obviously not the target audience. Schatten Aus… is over two hours long and I find it impossible to sit through it. I might as well plug in the vacuum cleaner and listen to that for awhile, why not record that and call it a song, I guess Cathedral already did that. I’m told that this is very similar to Ulver’s current sound. If that is the case I’m sure the majority of you will love this but I’ll have to listen to some Ulver mp3s… Ok, I’m back. I guess I can officially write off Ulver as well. I knew they had changed direction, but… I’d have to say that if “Perdition City is a mammoth work of electronic genius” the new Bethlehem disk is a flea that went for a ride in that mammoth’s fur.

Have we got any memorable tracks? Surreal trip music with bizarre noise and synthesized effects and distortions make up the bulk of it. No information came with the promo, not booklets, no press release, no hints, and the spoken parts are all in German. My guess is they are telling you to kill yourself. In between garbled radio tuning bits and garbled whispered vocals is some industrial / techno dance without the rhythm (disk 2, track 17) and easy listening style with some whining guitars and clean singing over recognizable rhythm (disk 2. track 15). The thirteen minute final track follows 47 consecutive blank tracks, and is the closest thing to a coherent song on the whole double album.

I think if I edited these two disks down to an ep worth of good material I still would not play it, but it would feel like less of a rip-off. If I’m ever in the mood for demented space rock I’ll pull out my Hawkwind records, that’s as bizarre as I ever need. At two hours fifteen minutes, Schatten Aus Der Alexander Welt occupies time that would have been better spent doing anything else.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Grimulfr
September 21st, 2001

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