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REVIEWS: STILLIFE "Raining December" / (p)00 Stillife Once a week I ask our respected Sergey Merenkoff whether there is anything interesting among the things sent to Gothic.Ru. Usually, there's hardly any excitement in his voice, masterpieces are few among demos of foreign bands (and we wouldn't be able to review them all even if we wanted very-very much), but last week Sergey was overwhelmed with emotions. From his messy speech I understood that there arrived a demo of some Russian band, which produced a deep impression on him. While he was trying to recall its name, I experienced a few minutes of torture, but when he finally brazened it out, my surprise was great. Our best and only interviewer Stanislav Ivanoff (who occasionally makes us happy by interviewing the stars of world gothic scene) sent us the album of his new project STILLIFE. There are not many goths who know that on the local and, I'm proud to say, on the international music scene Stanislav is known as the ex-leader of a black-metal band SUNCHARIOT. I confess I know nothing at all about their creative work, but I have heard quite a lot of comments from different people saying that SUNCHARIOT is truly the best Russian black-metal band; moreover, as far as I know, it has for some time been the only one known abroad (speaking of Russian black-metal bands, of course). I do not know how Stanislav's view changed, but it seems to me that one should possess some courage and self-assurance to leave a successful band and start it all anew. STILLIFE consists of two people: Stanislav and a M. S., plus session musicians (keyboards, viola, drums). Listening to the debut track of the project, "Farewell", several months ago, I had no doubts about the final result. At least, Sergey's delight didn't in the least surprise me. The CD is opened by a spooky symphonic intro "When Lights Go Off..." which sounds very promising and really "tunes" you to listening. The two next tracks, "Farewell" and "Last Hope" reminded me of STATIC MOVEMENT/FROZEN AUTUMN in a more brutal, aggressive variant - they were the first who managed to combine the dark melancholy of darkwave and the romanticism of synth-goth. STILLIFE explore that very mysterious lands. However, such epithets as "brutal" and "aggressive" are only partly applicable here, for I was specking about the mood, not the music: FROZEN AUTUMN, with all its melancholy, has a very light mood, while STILLIFE has everything very hopeless and grim, the names of the songs speak for themselves. The next track was a surprise: "Nur das Schweigen" reminds of ENDRAUM or GOETHES ERBEN. The absentminded piano, sad cello two expressive male vocals singing in German and English - this is indeed a gothic masterpiece, tear me apart, but this is the best thing created by Russian gothic bends throughout the history of their existence!!! "Ich bin zu spat aufgewachsen" was also a surprise: this is classical minimalism - John Cage vs. Philipp Glass, German lyrics again, it's a very nontrivial thing for a gothic band. The absentminded track "Stay" is good, but to me it seems less strong than others. And as for the track "Raining December", it is very complicated, I came to understand it only after a few listenings. Melancholic vocals, lounge guitar and drums, a "Gothic Twin Peaks" of some sort. And the final track, "Outside", turned out to be the best one on the CD, maybe because of its simplicity: extremely synthesized, with many samples, it's a great instrumental, which is rare for electro bands. The forty minutes of the CD fly like a quarter of an hour, and I was really hooked on this album, it's very nice to get such a present in the very beginning of the year. "Raining December", IMHO, is one of the best releases of Russian gothic/industrial bands. Developing the ideas between darkwave and synth, STILLIFE created a unique masterpiece, without any referenced to "locality" - this is one of the few Russian albums which do not in the least worse than the ones of the foreign colleagues. - Russian Gothic Page STILLIFE "Raining December" Surprise, surprise! SUNCHARIOT is no more, however here comes more than worthy substitute. No, it's not black metal. Actually, it doesn't have anything in common with neither BM movement, nor SUNCHARIOT. With an exception for the fact that STILLIFE appears as the brainchild of Stanislav, the one who was formerly known as the mastermind behind SUNCHARIOT. Stylistically, I wouldn't dare to reckon "Raining December" to any particular genre, simply because it's something obviously new - and in the same time, something reminiscent of few dark ambient, EBM and dark electro acts. Serene and melancholic, astoundingly all-devouring passages is what "Raining December" (the title fits this work just perfectly) all about. Sometimes supplemented with male and female voices (what surprised me a bit, is the fact almost half of the lyrical canvas has been composed in... German) and a couple of live instruments. No need to explain which ones exactly. Even if STILLIFE obviously aren't capable of offering anything sophisticated (if we'd compare 'em to ELEND, for instance), it doesn't make "Raining December" less attractive work. It's more in the vein of "As Life Fades Away" by PENITENT, y'know. Similar NOT musically, but more likely, SPIRITUALLY. The same goes for the ambiences captured on this effort. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. - Vae Solis webmagazine STILLIFE "Raining December" More and more Russian projects are sending us their demos and the less I can say is that most of them sounding really acceptable. Stillife is one of these formations, which try to intermix several styles together. It moves from electro-ambient to gothic to neo-classical styles. There's a kind of apocalyptic atmosphere running through their work. The more you enter the "Raining december"-universe, the more it comes close to a certain artistic approach. I'm thinking on songs like "Stay" and "Outside". Nothing essential, but maybe interesting if you want to discover new horizons! - Side-Line music magazine STILLIFE "Raining December" Here we have a very professional darkwave demo from Russia. A well-printed cover, excellent sound-quality on a 46 minute BASF tape. These are not the only things that seems to show partiality for the West (or an aim for a Western audience), since the titles and lyrics are in English and German. Quite accentless too as I hear it. Musically the music can be described as darkwave which is sometimes built around fairly complex rhythm-structures sometimes around beautiful violin-playing. All the time Stillife is tranquil and sad and especially the deep vocals add to this. The first three tracks are mostly electronic and alright, then 3 songs with much attention on the violin and beautiful followed by a more gothic-sounding title track which I don't like too much and the last track is a nice piano track with samples a drumcomputer rhythms. Overall quite a promising demo. - Sententia Magazine

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