DO IT Records (label)
12 February 2021 (released)
18 February 2021
Songwriters are often lauded as master storytellers. There is a small group at the top who have a stunning capacity to delve into the motivations and consequences of their fictional creations in immersive detail, however, the vast majority are merely retelling their own daily ups and downs in a more dramatic tone. Over the years, some musicians have turned to the literary world to provide them with elaborate stories to draw from. In the pages of a novel, an author can develop themes on human nature, philosophy, and nuanced topics in a way that a three-minute song never could. Using a song to explore the themes of a novel can make for a much more rich lyrical story.
Delusive Relics have devoted the entirety of their second album The Blind Owl to exploring the themes of Sadeq Hedayat's 1936 novel of the same name. The novel is hailed as his magnum opus and stirred controversy for its dark ideas on death, leading it to be banned in the author's home country of Iran at different periods as it was said to lead readers towards suicide. These themes that "the presence of death annihilates all that is imaginary. We are the offspring of death and death delivers us from the tantalizing, fraudulent attractions of life” drove the now New-Hampshire-based synthpop duo to write their latest album which uses devices of EBM, industrial, and electronic score to deliver an opera-like vision of their home country's illustrious fictional work.
The Blind Owl's signature is a haunting piano like that of a less whimsical, more ominous Danny Elfman. Framing the piano hooks are a wide range of synth textures from the iconic 80s Yamaha DX7 tones that gave the decade its thick layer of glossy cheese to more subversive rubbery Moog arpeggiators that run down your spine. Farhood Nik's vocals inhabit a similar range to Depeche Mode's second vocalist and chief writer Martin Gore whereas the female vocals from Anis Olvesi and guest vocalists B-Astre and Venesssa Hale take on a more tribal role like the vocals of Juno Reactor.
The opener 'Writing for My Shadows' begins dramatically unfolding over measured piano before ascending with sinister chords through sparkling pads and a modified trip-hop beat. 'Painting from Dead Body' incorporates many ghoulish score elements and churning bass before lifting off with operatic vocals to sail it through to the end. The quirky 'Mortician' is perhaps the standout track on the album. Curt, tubular synth and an unnerving tapping beat underpin a beautiful vocal duet. The track evolves to include a serpentine monophonic bass line that slithers through the rest of the track recalling some of the more innovative voices of the early 90s British electronic scene. The penultimate 'Shade of Owl' also sits on an infectious synth arpeggiator and hypnotic female vocals, treading that fine line between trip-hop and EBM.
Delusive Relics take the base of British-born electronica and add a tasteful dose of Middle Eastern melodics to provide for aurally arresting modal music. The sinister themes of the source novel translate into foreboding lyrics that create a mystique beyond the typical songwriter's fare. The chord choices reflected these lyrics though at times the flowery nature of the synth sounds contradicted the sombre nature of the vocals. This could be intentional. Juxtaposition can be a very effective way to illustrate a message.