Phragments – Anthems Of Solitude

Rating: 3.5/5
Distributor/label: Construct.Destroy.Collective
Released: 2020
Buy Album: Anthems Of Solitude | Phragments
Band Websites: Bandcamp | Facebook

Band line-up:

Matej Gyarfas – everything

Tracklisting:

1. Hollow
2. Consequence
3. Frontiers Of Hope
4. An Ode To Our Times

Review:

Bratislava, Slovakian-based Phragments is the one-man dark ambient project of Matej Gyarfas, active from 2002. Album number six Anthems Of Solitude appears to be largely inspired by the Coronavirus pandemic, in particular concept of social distancing.

Leading track “Hollow” is Anthems of Solitude’s longest chapter, which allows it to accommodate a lot of action. Mechanical meets static. Noises from nature meld with the manmade, creating a busy yet tranquil atmosphere. The almost-human howling is unsettling as it has a haunting quality to it, which makes it appear to come from an other-than-mortal source.

The orchestral side to the album seems to become more prominent with the arrival of “Consequence,” as the string and horn-like instrumentation are more in the forefront. Some of the best bits from “Hollow” make a resurgence, linking the two pieces nicely. In some moments, what sounds like white noise interrupts the droning sounds in a way that helps to make track two its own.

Frontiers Of Hope” takes quite a melodic approach at times while retaining the sense of foreboding. One can definitely imagine the collision of two opposite entities (or thoughts, if we are keeping with the idea of solitude) during this eight-and-a-half minute journey – the triumphant feeling of the victor after a battle (within the mind) meets the devastation of the defeated (emotion).

Finale “An Ode To Our Times” feels like a bittersweet aftermath, with echoing memories of the triad of events before it. Mostly ominous with hints of hope, it sums up the quartet effectively. The sense of surrealism introduced in “Hollow” comes full-circle here, eerily depicting what time spent in isolation might be like for people.

Best listened to while alone and/or in complete silence as there are many subtle touches that might be missed. Every re-listen, reveals more of an awareness of how much is going on in each song, while simultaneously uncovering the quiet complexity Phragments has to offer. The long, extended notes that ring through each track are suspenseful – though often repetitive – while other elements provide a sense of calm which creates an ominous, unsettling listening experience.

Anthems Of Solitude will likely be one of those records one will re-visit in years to come, and instantly be transported back into these strange times that we are all currently experiencing. Phragments’ sixth album is a successful wordless soundtrack to the loneliness that many would have experienced during periods of lockdown.

Review by Kira Levine
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