One of the fastest ways to a music critic’s heart is a seamless synthesis of styles. Anytime a group successfully blends adjacent or dissimilar genres, the results can push boundaries with a truly engaging, unique listen. Such is the case with Ache Pillars, the latest EP from one-person band Folian. The four-track journey does explore some familiar territory, which fans of Have a Nice Life and Planning for Burial should find enticing. But Folian employs a distinctly electronic edge to their sound, throwing in elements of (dark) ambient, drone metal and post-rock to round out an ethereal and enveloping experience.
Through all of this, Folian dabbles between dissonance and sonic beauty in equal measures. At the onset, “Clearing in the Shadows” opens with unsettling samples fitting for a horror soundtrack, before slowly shifting into a somber trio of vocals, guitar and a wall of ambiance. The ensuing post-rock-esque drone in “Ghost in the Flesh” is reminiscent of a Godspeed You! Black Emperor track, with the guitar giving way to a more direct iteration of Earth‘s drone metal riff and percussion pairing.
The track’s climax erupts in a swell of rapidfire double kick rolls married with overpowering noise. These elements are perhaps the best examples of how Folian perfectly blends organic instrumentation and passion with electronics and synthetic production techniques, though this phenomenon is prevalent throughout the EP. With individual moments and the release’s overall vibe, the music feels like it’s coming from an ambient-minded post-rock band making a remix album of their own organic recordings.
After a noise-laden interlude on “Gift of Sorrow,” the main event arrives with “Where All This Dust Comes From.” The nearly 13-minute closer is, ironically, the centerpiece of the EP, opening with what could be the subdued, reverb-heavy hook on a blackgaze song. As the track progresses, so does the development and growth of each musical component, coming together to produce a swirl of reverb and ambiance. The vocals are somewhat obscured but punctuate the atmosphere when present.
The track overall succeeds beautifully at splicing the ideas and vibes introduced by the preceding three tracks, with a droning doomgaze pace and instrumentation leaning on electronic elements to bolster the composition. If this is what Folian can accomplish on an EP, one can only imagine how textured and sonically massive a full-length would be. Here’s hoping a longer follow-up arrives in the near future.
Ache Pillars is available now via Apneic Void.