Our Daily Bread 425: White Ring ‘Show Me Heaven’

February 18, 2021

ALBUM REVIEW/DOMINIC VALVONA

White Ring ‘Show Me Heaven’
(Rocket Girl)  19th February 2021

As tags go the one that was first attached to White Ring, over a decade ago, is quite near the mark. Though dreamt up when Myspace was still a thing, Witch House does prove a good fit for this paranormal electronica coven. Though rather more apt would be Witch Techno, or, Witch Industrial. The most important thing however is that White Ring have more than grown out of that lazy pigeonhole since.

With a checkered history behind them, they complete a ring cycle (if you will) of consoled grief and acceptance with only their second album proper, Show Me Heaven, which now completes the Black Earth That Made Me and Gate Grief arc of such thematic records.

Unfortunately minds have been fatefully concentrated with the loss of founder member and siren from beyond the ether Kendra Malia. Malia tragically passed away in 2019, just as her long-term foil Bryan Kurkimilis was writing material for what would be this seething, vaporous mire of healing and cosmic Gothic brooding. Back down to a duo, with Kurkimilis providing the often expanding but also skulking backdrop to the wisped, translucent and ethereal treated voice of Adina Viarengo, who joined the fold back in 2017, the pared-down White Ring dedicate this heavenly entitled endeavor to Malia and her documented struggles. 

Finding as much light as they do despondency and supernatural incandescence in coming to terms with such a big loss, the duo wither between gauzy veiled escapism and twitched tubular synth produced Gothic post-punk, dark pop and electro on an ambitious grieving process.

Kurkimilis has himself said that this intensified knock at heaven’s gate is “about the consequences of darkness”. A theme they get across by immersing themselves in a rippled glassy and chilled suffusion of synthesized music. They never quite wallow in it but search for some glimmer of radiance. And on that score, nothing’s more light bringing than the recent single and album opener, the universal chimed ‘Light Hours Linger’. And what a statement to start with: a weary but lulled dream pop haunting that expands into a sizzled static cosmos of diaphanous plaint. Featuring alongside that lead single is the agitated voiced and synthesized bell-tolled, more menacing, ‘I Need A Way’; a creep into NIN’s industrial sonic mausoleum.

Elsewhere there’s much in the way of vapoured 80s influences – whether intentional or not –, with tracks such as ‘Calm Down’ sounding like a supernatural romance, as envisioned by Moroder and Carpenter: a soundtrack world in which The Lost Boys meets Pretty In Pink on the dancefloor. Those dreamy 80s moments also recall the Chromatics, albeit a version of the hushed synth popsters holding hands at an séance.

It would seem disingenuous at this point to bemoan the album’s length; rather see it as an ambitious attempt to mine that grief cosmology, giving the fans their money’s worth – which they do in both intense and expansive spades.

Drawn towards the light, opening up their souls, White Ring bewitch once more with a both crushing but also translucent phantasm of industrial-strength emotional release. Heavy yet also just as alluring and diaphanous, Kurkimilis and Viarengo continue to conjure sonic spells whilst navigating the pain.

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

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