This week, I had the pleasure of exploring the newest album by Lars Haur, titled The Cosmological Despair. If you don't yet know, Lars Haur is a talented and skillful Oklahoma based sound artist...and the founder of On the Fringes of Sound! He has come up with some intriguing and interesting sonic experimentation since 2019, producing 5 releases that conjure up disturbing images of cosmic chaos, futuristic dystopian worlds, and transcending nightmarish territories throughout the vast universe. Starting off the year 2021 with a menacing and sinister tone, The Cosmological Despair will take you light years into the deepest and darkest areas of your unconscious mind. Released on January 22, 2021 through Anticipating Nowhere records, The Cosmological Despair is a conglomerate collection of Sci-Fi themed compositions that range from atmospheric and ambient to amorphous and atonal. Opening with "Signals of the Lost to Space and Time", the album begins with an opening credits of a movie feel. Soundscapes of saw waves set in a minor key swirl in and out under a series of metallic bells that clash just enough in tonality to be mildly jarring to the listener. "The Ominous Spectre of Disaster" comes in with an Industrial-Rock influenced drum beat serving as the backbone. Subtle hints of early NIN and Skinny Puppy are present, although the music doesn't stray too far from its movie underscore nature. Eschewing any melodic sensibilities, "A Purgatory Made Insurmountable" enters with a creepier quality. I'm reminded of the more tense moments in movies such as Alien, Blade Runner, and Total Recall as cacophonous, distorted drones - higher in timbre - fade in and out over a layer of free-flowing, non-rhythmic synth passages.
As we reach the pinnacle of the release, "Hades Surges on the Shores of Paradise" continues in a similar manner as its predecessor, but portrays a scarier sentiment as if one discovers a new planet, a new species, or a new territory in outer space that reveals itself to be grotesque and horrific. "Impossibility Becomes Dreaded Eventuality" enters the picture. The light Industrial, Electronica elements make their way to the forefront once again, toning down the cacophonous sound art in favor of a slightly more melodic tonal structure. "Broken Words Speak Broken Truths" comes along with a vengeance. Distorted, dissonant synth patches dominate this work as vivid, obsidian images of being surrounded by dying stars and dark matter of a universe in its death throes spring to mind. Finally, the album closes with "Falling Backwards Into a Soulless Void", leaving a sense of wonder, angst, and tension within the listener. Lost in a post-apocalyptic atmosphere where symmetry vanishes, harmony is void, beauty is replaced by sheer ugliness, and chaos reigns supreme, the album may leave listeners raising some of the deeper, more existential questions about the meaning of life - perhaps wondering if this is all one big dream.
If you're an enthusiast passionate about dystopian Sci-Fi movies, (Alien, Blade Runner, Total Recall, etc), the film scores of the genius composers who have worked on such previously mentioned films (Vangelis, Brad Fiedel, Jerry Goldsmith), and notable Musique Concrete figures such as Varese and Boulez, then I recommend checking out The Cosmological Despair by Lars Haur. I think you'll find much to be intrigued by as these cosmic-like soundscapes hit your eardrums - unrestrained and without mercy. I find it to be the perfectly adventurous listening quest if you accompany your listening experience of this album while reading, taking a long drive through dreary weather, meditating, or simply decompressing after a more tiring, uneventful, and mundane day.