Music always reflects the personality of the composer, which is in turn influenced by the environment and the society in which the composer was born and in which they live. "El Soter" is the name of the project run by Slovenian composer Blaz Erzetic; a project that he intends should be a "sociocritical" work. Slovenia hasn't had the easiest of histories in the 19th and 20th centuries, seemingly its people have been a political football for various superpowers, albeit it is now emerging as a nation at the forefront of European development. Perhaps as a result of these influences, perhaps of others, El Soter's Appletree of Discord is an album replete with darkness in its music and lyrics.
Blaz has previously released three other albums under the Amateur God project name (Near Life Experience is reviewed on this site): however, El Soter's music is substantially different and has warranted the name change. Appletree of Discord is the first release of fledgling Slovene record label Neversun Records. It's an ambitious release in attractive packaging; the CD also contains a computer-generated video of "The Hail" and some evocative photographs of Blaz in surreal environments.
On first listening to the album I thought of its soundscape as a cross-fertilization between goth and space rock: it has the heaviness and darkness of goth but is quite psychedelic sounding in places. Having heard it again - and I think that this may give you a better idea - I consider it similar to a cross between Bauhaus and Joy Division. There is darkness in the music and in the lyrics, the vocal delivery is in sing-speak and the tempo is unremittingly slow. It delivers a powerful impact even if it's not easy listening!
Blaz is joined on vocals by Metka Rogeija for "Not Coming Back" and by Helen Filipcic on the first and last tracks, whose lyrics are from poems by the American poetess Emily Dickinson. Emily's themes suit Blaz's music well.
The most lyrical moment on the album comes, interestingly, on the only instrumental track "Girl in Pink, for Example". This piece is like a little oasis of melody. Elsewhere the slow, mantric rhythm, the harsh guitar and the doom-laden keyboards prevail. There is a market for this music but it doesn't mirror my current mood or outlook on life. For music at this tempo, I prefer more melody than is on offer on Appletree of Discord. These factors have affected my rating, which you can increase by one star should you be a fan of Bauhaus's line of goth rock.
1) Pre-Initiation (84")
2) Initiation (309")
3) The Hail (320")
4) Freak Show (307")
5) Not Coming Back (340")
6) Sum (285")
7) Blaming the Moon (312")
8) Girl in Pink, for Example (240") (instrumental)
9) Chaos Based Directions (272")
10) To the North (307")
11) Post-End (107")