Rainer Landfermann- Mehr Licht (EP Review)

June 28, 2023


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Chances are good that you’ve heard Rainer Landfermann’s over the top vocal work whether you know his name or not, as his performance on Bethlehem’s 1996 album Dictius Te Necare is still one of the most extreme all of metal has to offer.  Landfermann also spent time as the bassist for technical death metal band Pavor, but more recently he started a solo project that explored aspects of metal, jazz, classical, and everything in between through an avant-garde lens.  2019’s Mein Wort in deiner Dunkelheit often felt cohesive and all over the place at the same time, drawing some polarizing reactions (just see the Metal Archives reviews if you want a good example).  As someone that likes the weird and boundary pushing I found it to be a wild ride, and four years later Landfermann has returned with a short two-track EP titled Mehr Licht.  It’s short at just under nine minutes but crams a lot of ideas into that time and once again demonstrates why this project is so exciting for the right type of listener.

Mehr Licht doesn’t depart too drastically from the type of sonic exploration its predecessor was going for but considering that album sounded different from a lot of the other metal adjacent music out there it still has a very unique vibe.  The biggest shift is in the way all the passages are layered together, as while Landfermann still likes to go seamlessly from moodier synths and gothic melodies into harsher melodies and even some jazz sounding solos, the transitions don’t feel nearly as jarring this time.  The title track is a great example, as it begins with booming synths that fall somewhere between synthpop and older electronic film scores, but transitions into instrumentation that has both a darker gothic doom and classical feel to it.  It’s a great moody piece that establishes a dark yet entrancing atmosphere and comes off relatively subdued from an instrumental standpoint, especially compared to some of Mein Wort in deiner Dunkelheit more out there songs.  “Originalstimme” is where Landfermann reminds listeners he’s still very much on the progressive and abrasive side of the spectrum though, as this track lets the guitar and bass go wild before transitioning into a stunning funeral doom sounding passage.  That slower break then speeds up into a fast solo that reminds me more of jazz or jazz fusion before some piano flourishes finish things up.  It’s a short listen, but I’ve found these two tracks to have plenty of mileage and the haunting qualities of the piano and synths have captivated me just as much as the more technically complex and abrasive metal side.

There may be some interesting instrumental arrangements on both songs, but let’s be honest, you’ve likely come to Rainer Landfermann to hear more of his over the top and versatile vocal work.  It’s still impressive that twenty-seven years after Dictius Te Necare his voice is just as intense and can reach the same heights, but now he’s doing even more from a clean and abrasive approach.  The title track greets you with those familiar ear-piercing screams and shrieks, but there are also much lower growls and spoken word that is layered over top of some of the harsher ranges.  But it’s not all over the top insanity, as you also get some sections where Landfermann switches over to softer singing that brings in some beauty in.  “Originalstimme” heads into some of the most over the top and abrasive territory, but even this song gives you some respites with choral chants and spoken word.  The way the ugly and beautiful tones tie together is fantastic, though it is likely to be what either draws listeners in or sends them running far, far away,

Mehr Licht serves as a natural complement to Mein Wort in deiner Dunkelheit, as it goes for a slightly more cinematic and atmospheric approach while keeping the crazy avant-garde twists that Rainer Landfermann established previously.  The music still spans a wide range of extreme metal, jazz, classical, and more but there’s a sense of cohesiveness to the madness and that provides some memorable moments that will keep listeners coming back.  Landfermann’s vocals will once again be the element that determines whether you click with this material or not, but if this is to your tastes expect to get sucked into these two songs.

-Review by Chris Dahlberg