Cyclic Law (19th Cycle), 2007
My dictionary (I still have a bound one, in fact) defines “akrasia” as “failure of command over oneself.” A sobering idea to contemplate. I suppose it’s humanity’s nature to destroy itself, despite a wealth of evidence that may suggest otherwise. To think one way but act the opposite appears to be an innate part of living, knowing that you’ll defy even your own best intentions for reasons that you may never be aware of.
Marcus Lonebrink seems to agree. Akrasia is his first release (and to date, his only) as Sinke Dus; a project that I misread as “sinked us” the first time I saw it. It’s a fitting title for dark ambient, which often delves into the inner workings of the mind in a somber, reflective, isolationist manner. The seven tracks all follow a melancholic path, but there’s a definite feeling of acceptance, as if Lonebrink is saying that we shouldn’t struggle against the tendency to be our own worst enemies. Perhaps he’s saying it’s a part of the natural order of things, and to resist it is to resist ourselves on a profound level.
It’s something worth pondering, and the music provides an appropriate atmosphere for it. I ought to point out that Akrasia isn’t what you might think of as typical dark ambient; most of it is straightforward keyboard work following the extended chords that often serve as the foundation of the genre, but Lonebrink has made it foundation and structure. The distorted swaths of pseudo-noise are passengers, almost afterthoughts, and as a result, Akrasia owes as much to 21st-century dark ambient as it does to 1990s-era Tangerine Dream. For example, “The Premonition” sounds distinctly like “When It’s Over” from TD’s soundtrack to Miracle Mile. This isn’t intended to be a criticism in the slightest, but rather an indication that Sinke Dus’ album is less dark noise and more melodic synthwork. Think Tangerine Dream (I’m a big fan of their soundtracks, by the way) mixed with the mood of early raison d’etre and a heavy dose of Kammarheit, and you’re on your way to Akrasia.
It’s really a simple album, all things considered. The tracks vary in content, but the theme is the same. “Acedia” pitches up the tones, “Remnants” increases the noise, and the companion pieces “That Which Was Lost” and “That Which Lies Beyond” are even more reminiscent of soundtrack work than the rest (“Beyond” is a measure darker). There’s small flutters and scratches here and there, but the focus is on the grand, stirring chords of Lonebrink’s keys and pads (which sound exactly like keys and pads, by the way). “Fortitude” is the most dramatic track on the album, with the noise brought to equal footing with the slowly evolving chords; it’s easy to slide into introspection with such an effective catalyst.
The lone exception to the mold is “The Abyss,” which is the darkest and most ambient part of Akrasia. Viscerally sparse, its spaces yawn with a master’s touch, enhanced by a looped bell that once again recalls Peter Andersson’s influential early work. The synths wander more freely here, not following a set path of transition, and the electronic whispers, scuttles, and tones are arranged carefully and delicately, moving the track into the dim and magical territory between noise and music. I wish Lonebrink descended a bit more into these places; this is the track I recall most strongly, and it’s a real shame that it’s also the shortest on the album. “Remnants” comes closest to matching the feel, but even that swerves too close to Kammarheit’s established identity; “The Abyss” is Lonebrink’s own.
Akrasia is something of a lost album. While it aims to portray man’s internal struggle in admirable fashion, the music itself seems searching for its own voice. I get the feeling that Lonebrink was still learning when recording this album – the influences are so strongly present, they tend to drown his originality – and the recent compilation track “Dawnchasm” carries signs that he’s finding himself. Is Akrasia good? Yes, it is. But it’s a bit of a hybrid, “The Abyss” aside; the focus on display has been done, and done better. Hopefully Lonebrink can continue building on his promise, for he’s right on the edge.