opinions on music - pure reason revolution

The Dark Third (2006)

Another debut album! Well, not quite. I can find things from this band dated before 2006, but just how official they’re supposed to be is even less clear than the audio quality on them. This album clocks in at around one and a half hours, about ten minutes of which is absolute silence. That’s intentional, apparently, and an artifact of Ye Olde Times In Whence There Were CDs You Forgot To Turn Off Immediately After The Last Song Had Apparently Finished.

The Dark Third is an album about dreams, whether utopian visions, barely coherent fever dreams, or outright nightmares. The title of the album itself is a direct reference to sleep: the eight hours of sleep you haven’t gotten recently are the dark third of each 24-hour day.

This album contains what i think is my all-time favorite track in this subgenre of prog, The Twyncyn/Trembling Willows. As the song’s title suggests, it’s split into two parts. I: The Twyncyn’s deeply distressed lyrics about “stark light and … their mauled eyes” are first accompanied by a calm score that lets you notice the lyrics’ incremental loss of coherence and descent into a mantra before the atmosphere radically shifts into the high-stress environment of II: Trembling Willows — the lyrics are a near-inscrutable, highly paratactic list of disturbing images at this point: “Lights were on the table leading upward to the scars”, “Confused, distort, the vague breath sways / The wandering spheres, the coral caves”, increasingly veering off into the supernatural and start suggesting some eldritch influence (“Give them power, upheaval, sinking fists and their ancient designs / Build them towers”). There’s a recurring theme of the fear of the loss of one’s own mental capabilities and institutionalization (“Carry away this head! / You can’t find an illness for this?”), also repeated as a mantra. Similar fears appear in other tracks on the album.

The Twyncyn/Trembling Willows explores a mind that is aware of its own deterioration and accordingly spends its brief periods of lucidity in utter terror, while the non-lucid parts try to grapple with the increasing loss of function in their own distorted dark dream-logic ways. It’s beautiful and terrifying.

Apart from this, the album also has highlights like Borgens Vor1, In Aurélia (more fever dreams!), and The Bright Ambassadors of Morning (12 minutes). Of course, other parts are weaker; Goshen’s Remains, The Exact Color, or Voices In Winter/In The Realms Of The Divine just don’t engage me. Overall a gleaming recommendation, though.

Eupnea (2020)

Well, as it turns out that band wasn’t actually dead. They came back with this album after nearly 10 years of silence. It’s definitely a good restart; the album starts out with the fairly short (five minutes) New Obsession, whose fairly gentle musical backing fluidly morphs into the following track Silent Genesis, which is both almost two times as long and way more intense in its instrumentals. Out of the next three tracks, only Ghosts & Typhoons really strikes me as particularly memorable. The final track Eupnea boasts the first trivially understandable lyrics on the album and tells the story of a troubled premature birth with Pure Reason Revolution’s usual talent for coming up with rich lyrics that communicate emotion beyond the actual content expressed.

  1. Not to be confused with the earlier The Borgens Vow, which is instrumental and appears in the background of this track↩︎