Phragments – Anthems Of Solitude

Rating: 4/5
Distributor/label: Construct.Destroy.Collective
Released: 2020
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Matej Gyarfas – Everything.


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


One of the more interesting areas to consider when listening to music and critiquing it is to discuss how it makes you feel. Quite often it is the performance on certain instruments that occupies a lot of people’s minds, but it will be a rare moment to behold when a number of burly metal bros discuss how the crushing sadness of their favourite metal epic brought them to tears. A genre like dark ambient, however, can only invoke emotion and it is, at times, an utterly powerful experience.

Those familiar with the genre will know the crushing weight it can carry, despite its often minimalist approach. Synths, drones and found sounds all meld together to create a cacophony that, despite its size, imparts a feeling of cold, oppressive loneliness to which little can offer relief. Couple this with the fun you can have conjuring images of forgotten landscapes where no one walks, and abandoned metropolises, and you’re into the swing of dark ambient.

Appropriate, then, that PHRAGMENTS’ latest, ‘Anthems Of Solitude’, is up for discussion today and it well and truly screams “solitude” across its four pieces. Whilst orchestral music can easily be described as cinematic, dark ambient should also be included for the scenes it paints and the worlds it transports you to. An easy listen this is not, yet it is well worth the time to invest in. Straight away, the wind-like howls and screeches that accompany the rumbling drones of “Hollow” make for an incredibly stirring experience that is equally foreboding as it is oddly peaceful; like a looming castle in a snowstorm. At the other end of the album, “An Ode To Our Times” feels like a nod towards our current devotion to all things digital, with rising and falling bell-like drones, alongside what sounds like a Gregorian chant stretched to within an inch of its life.

In fact, the word “experience” is rather fitting as this is an album that cannot be merely listened to without becoming fully immersed in. For instance, “Consequence”, with its haunting, droning upper melodies that draw themselves out to near disintegration, could be the musical manifestation of an existential crisis. An uncomfortable, unnerving piece: this is what sufferers of sleep paralysis hear when they cannot move and their nightmare moves in slow motion.

Yet it is “Frontiers Of Hope” that is the stand out across this bleak yet beautiful record. An echoing, reverb-drenched and siren-like melody ekes out across a growling drone, painting the picture of urban decay draped in fog. It’s incredibly despairing, and a delightful juxtaposition to the title’s slight hint of positivity. Based on the sonic experience the piece brings, there is absolutely no hope at all. How apt given the current climate we are living in – PHRAGMENTS has his finger on the pulse of the world right now.

It’s impressive what just a little prompting can spark in the mind, and that is what makes both the genre and ‘Anthems Of Solitude’ a compelling listen, if you’re of the persuasion. The above are impressions each track imparts, yet they will likely be completely different person-to-person, but it all revolves around that central theme: isolation. Run that word through a thesaurus and there will be plenty of similar words to describe how this album will make the listener feel, but it is, in its own way, a rather beautiful listen.

While it won’t offer much cheer to anyone presently trying to survive the continued hardship the last twelve months has thrown up, PHRAGMENTS has managed to produce a wickedly dark, yet beguiling body of work that is cinematic to the point of realism. It is a tough listen for the uninitiated, but hugely rewarding for those who are, so set aside some time to lose yourself and celebrate some ‘Anthems Of Solitude’.