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Rostau : To Die and to the Stars Ascend

In the Ancient Egyptian language the Giza plateau was named Rostau and it is from this source that the avant-garde funeral doom/drone project Rostau, took their name. The name of this album makes me think of Bauval's Orion Correlation Theory and the 'Riddle of the Sphinx'-theory - amongst other similar theories - who states respectively that the Pyramids' relative placement and alignment were made to match those of the stars in Orion's Belt, and that the Great Sphinx was shaped to be a reference to the constellation Leo. (For more information, read the Wikipedia entry.) 'To Die and to the Stars Ascend' seems to me to connect on some level to the idea that the soul travels to the stars when the life on earth is over, an idea well represented by the mathematical symbolism in the two theories I mentioned.

My speculations thus far might give the impression that Rostau are totally serious when it comes to occultism. This is far from the case. In fact, the members behind the project admit that one of the major influences behind the two first tracks is a miniature board game called Warhammer 40 000. No, I'm more inclined to think that Rostau was a cauldron. Into it the members put different elements that they found fascinating and to muddle them into an experimental mixture that was calibrated with math-magic precision, and then named 'To Die and to the Stars Ascend'.

The reason that the previous sentence was in the past tense is that Rostau is no more. The project was only designed to last the years it took to create and release this album. In other words, it lasted between '04 and '08. It also seems to me that the album wasn't created with commercial success in mind, but came to be because the bandmembers enjoyed making it. In line with that view of Rostau, the members put out the album for free on their homepage (http://www.rostaudoom.com) in addition to releasing it as a harcopy. Interestingly, while the "hardcopy" is made from a single soft sheet of cardboard folded into three equal sized surfaces, it's still as professionally printed as is the CD itself.

And now, finally, the description of the music. First imagine slow ambient funeral doom elements with the ambience of Until Death Overtakes Me mixed with the bleakness of Nortt's '"Ligfærd"'. Then complete the image by adding some doom/drone in the vein of Hlidolf and Hyatari. The resulting combination of musical styles - and the lack of bass, and general minimalism - gives the music a quiet feeling of loneliness, as if drifting slowly through the cold space. In particular the bright, drawn out guitar chords take part in creating this feeling. And this general soundscape continues throughout the album, even during those sections that are so experimental they belong alongside the most non-conforming of Zaraza's works. Come to think of it, 'To Die and to the Stars Ascend' sounds like something I would imagine could be playing inside the cryostasis chamber of an alien spaceship as it's sleeping inhabitants make their journey across the universe.

My verdict on this album is that, at least on a personal level, I really like it. It manages to experiment wildly and almost unrestrained without ever coming near being a "loose cannon". Those who enjoy spaced ambient, experimental drone or really bleak and minimalistic funeral doom might want to check out this release. It might also be of interest to those who like quiet doom metal that doesn't intrude on the listener in any way, or that would be excellent as meditative music. Being that it's free, there's no reason not to give it a chance. But be warned. As with all avent-garde music, this might take a few spins to really grow on you.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Celestial Hive Mind
2. Ahriman of the Thousand Sons
3. To Die and to the Stars Ascend
4. 3.33.333

Duration : Exactly 36 minutes, 36 seconds and 666 milliseconds.

Visit the Rostau bandpage.

Reviewed on 22-11-2009 by Arnstein Petersen
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