Reutoff/Sal Solaris – Eigengrau

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Monday, June 30, 2014

Joint releases aren’t that uncommon, but within the industrial and dark ambient genres they are a frequent occurrence. It’s always interesting to approach one of these releases, as often artists that complement each other sonically and thematically will team up to create something that pushes the boundaries of their established sounds. Russian artists Reutoff and Sal Solaris have done just that, as their album Eigengrau finds them presenting original songs as well as covering one track from each other. The bio that came with the album promo describes it as “The working title of the record is «Beyond the principles» and refers to the psychoanalytic concept of inner human life guided by two principles; that of reality and pleasure.” Based on that description, you can probably figure out that this is the type of album that will really take some time to fully absorb and while both Sal Solaris and Reutoff take very different paths to explore these concepts they are able to arrive at some stunning results.

Each group provides four songs, with Sal Solaris starting things off. Compared to what Reutoff channels later in the album, Sal Solaris’ side feels a bit more subtle approach. It isn’t quite the minimalistic sound that you might find from some drone and dark ambient artists, but the way that the different elements twist and turn here did come off as slightly more subdued. Each song slowly builds up layers that often have that familiar industrial sound to them, but the elements have been stretched out and transformed into an introspective and colder style rather than the harsher, violent nature of some of the industrial I’ve listened to in the past. There’s an eerier feeling to each of the four pieces, as somber melodies give way to bursts of machinelike elements. Sal Solaris’ side is said to tackle the reality side of the concept, and what they’ve managed to achieve here feels like it is attempting to musically represent living in the modern industrialized world. At times the sound is bleak and foreboding, but it often gives way to more foreign sounds that seem to represent an escape of some sort.

Sal Solaris’ arrangements offer plenty to take in and certainly make a strong first impression, but it was Reutoff that really stole the show. Their side begins with what I feel is the best piece on Eigengrau, “No=Never.” It’s significantly wilder and in your face compared to Sal Solaris, but that doesn’t mean that Reutoff doesn’t offer the same level of depth. “No=Never” starts off with a softer melody and driving beat, and then builds to a climax where the melodies twist and turn over the beat in a way that is absolutely jaw dropping. It has a very warm and inviting feeling, and when you listen to this with headphones at the proper volume the layers envelop you and allow your mind to run free. The other three songs take a similar approach, but rather than sticking with the warmer tonality the entire time there are moments where Reutoff adds a slightly rougher edge into the mix. Their overall sound has a very cinematic feel to it and at times felt a bit more linear than what Sal Solaris was going for, but the arrangements have just as much impact.

Reutoff’s contribution may have stood out slightly more as I gave Eigengrau repeated listens, but taken as a whole body of work this album is an impressive achievement. Both artists complement each other nicely, but head in very different directions to explore the concepts they have explored. Grab a decent pair of headphones and prepare to get lost in these songs, as they seem capable of spanning just about every range of emotion over the course of 75 minutes.

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