Formed in 1998, Chaostar is an experimental musical collective which explores atmospheric soundscapes, neoclassical compositional structures, operatic vocal stylings and contemporary musical conventions to create an ambience and musical experience unlike anything else one can expect to hear. Chaostar’ upcoming release ‘The Undivided Light’ is an intriguing and enticing examination into the previously mentioned musical landscapes that is set to further establish Chaostar as one of the most important names in the international world music scene.

The album opens with a stunning, operatic solo vocal introduction to the first track, Tazama Jua. Androniki Skoula offers jaw-dropping vocal performances across all tracks found on ‘The Undivided Light’ and this first tracks offers a sneak peek into the emotive and soul-moving performances one can expect moving further into the album. The track slowly unfolds into a bombastic yet ethereal symphonic piece combining the eclectic influences of electronic instrumentation neo-classical string elements.

The second track on the album, Blutbud opens with a shimmering and atmospheric clean guitar passages performed by Nikolaos Velentzas which accompanies the delicate vocalisations of Androniki whilst lulling listeners into an ominous and foreboding trance. Towards the closing moments of the track, heavy marching drum patterns are introduced alongside swelling string sections, organs and choirs to craft an epic ambience held in stark to the tracks sombre opening sections.

The third track, Stones and Dust opens with the mysterious and ethnic plucking of a dulcimer whilst ambient pads chime in the background in support of the previously mentioned operatic vocals of Skoula. Following a similar structure to the previous two tracks on the album, it becomes apparent that much attention and detail has been placed by the musicians involved with Chaostar in creating pieces of music that are both emotionally engaging whilst retaining clear classical influence in song-structure and progression. The tracks that appear on ‘The Undivided Light’ flow together in a seamless fashion, giving the listener the impression that all tracks are intended to be perceived as part of a larger compositional whole.

The fourth track, The Undivided Light sees Chaostar move away from the symphonic into the realm of the industrial and electronic. This track opens with an unwavering, pulsating synth drone set underneath soaring operatic vocals and psychedelic, syncopated and delay-heavy percussion patterns. As the song progresses, string and horn elements are slowly layered to create a wall-of-sound experience unheard on any of the other tracks contained on this album. Overall, this track is a definite highlight within an album of superb atmospherics and experimental production values.

The fifth track, Memniso opens with a mysterious yet melodic duduk solo which slowly evolves into a chaotic and atonal cacophony of symphonic madness which takes listeners on a musical journey akin to a sonic rollercoaster before reopening the piece to operatic vocals and emotive synth ensembles. Perhaps the strangest and most unconventional piece of music in regards to song structure, upon first listen Memniso may appear jarring or incoherent. However, upon further listens the piece unfolds its true beauty as an artistic exploration into both the dark and the light sides of human emotion.

The sixth track, Silent Yard much like the previous track makes ample use of the woodwind flavours of a solo duduk ostinato in its opening moments. However, in comparison to the previous track, Silent Yard opts for dark ambient drones and whispered vocal lines in favour of violent staccato string sections to evoke a sense of fear towards its ambiguous middle section. Towards the closing moments of the track, Chaostar’ metal influence can be heard through a passionate, noisy and distorted guitar solo which helps to set Silent Yard apart from many of the other tracks on this album in regards to taking influences from musical directions outside of neoclassical, ethnic and ambient music.

The seventh and closing track on the album, Ying and Yang opens with a delicate and sensitive clean guitar passageway set against the emotive vocal deliveries akin to those heard on prior tracks on the album. Following this dreamy opening section, the track evolves into an emotional masterpiece of syncopated drum fills, atmospheric chamber swells and synth pads before reducing its sensory overload to the lush and gentle echoes of a solo woodwind duduk, to help lull the listener into a relaxing trance upon the albums closing moments.

In conclusion, ‘The Undivided Light’ is a superbly executed exploration into the musical dominions of the ambient, symphonic, operatic and ethnic. Overall, an excellent returning effort by Chaostar.

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