Monastery – Peculiar Storms

You ever look at something and say “yeah, this will be good”?  Here is a case of that, so thank the new deities of the true arts, Seraphim House, for the opportunity to listen to such beauty.  Robb, the mind behind Monastery,  took the time to send an absolutely spectacular package that, upon opening the box, caused me to fall upon the post office floor in tears.  “Why can’t we get more like this?!”, I screamed into the night.  Well, it was the middle of the day, but everything about this made it want to be night.  Even the name Monastery cries out for the ruminating powers of a hundred men.  But Monastery goes beyond mere name and music, it gets into the realm of presentation.  This beautiful LP came with exquisite art, poetry to accompany the songs, a personal letter, and a download code so its sweet plastic surface was never damaged even minutely.  I barely even wanted to open it for fear of defiling its beauty.  And what a beautiful release this is.  As we’ve often seen with ambient/drone, it’s a pretty clear divide between the hit and the miss.  When musicians/bands create a hit, it’s a devastating hit.  Peculiar Storms may be the most profound hit we’ve ever come across.  It’s given us a musical concussion that will require emergency surgery, all through its ability to to provide a wealth of concept.  And yet the artist refused to purely explain any of it, leaving it up to the listener.  Genius.


Peculiar Storms is the first of an intended series of projects by Monastery that seek to capture the essence of various Scandinavian artists.  In this one, you’re given the work of Theodor Kittelsen, who was from Norway, and who we recommend you check out immediately.  The essence of this and future work is rather simple.  Monastery seeks to find “new ways to dream”, to suspend one’s Christian upbringing, should that be a part of your life, and find value in the mythological wonder, in this case Scandinavia, which still covers itself in the ancient world.  A separate piece of art with a short poem accompanies each song, but Monastery isn’t trying to direct your thoughts on the matter of Peculiar Storms.  Quite often a deliberate selection of a piece of art, especially if accompanied with poetry, will direct the listener’s attention whether or not you seek to do so.  Here, however, the concepts are left vague and wistful, and you’re given the opportunity to investigate the sounds for yourself.


There is an enormous amount of variety in this release, more than the usual ambient we tend to get.  Peculiar Storm provides several different approaches.  There are occasional tribal patterns, field recordings of storms, natural, pastoral soundscapes that utilize folk instrumentation, drone, it practically covers all the possible ground for this type of music without losing its direction in either a singularization of the tracks, where each one stands too much on its own, or a muddled theme, where too many tracks progress into each other so they can’t really exist in separation.  “Grief”, is absolute perfection in light beat and atmosphere.  “Verloren Im Nebel” mixes peaceful, brooding sounds with soft noise, blips of input feedback that break the haze like a buzzing neon sign as you walk empty streets in the fog.  Pictures like this spring into your mind all through Peculiar Storms because it balances the abovementioned two trends delicately.  At times it sounds like a New Age album you’d actually want to listen to, or for an even better analogy let’s say a Burzum “keyboard release” for which no one needs to make excuses.  If Monastery is seeking to, quote, “facilitate escape to more haunting and dreamier worlds than the one we’re all in,” this has been achieved so sufficiently we’ll be running this one practically the rest of our lives to haunt our existence.  Just a beautiful piece of work from start to finish, and that includes opening the package it came in.


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Written by Stanley Stepanic

Monastery – Peculiar Storms
Seraphim House
5 / 5