Neuropol purports to be something of an aural guided tour through “a fictional city where bleak scenarios of a post-apocalyptic world are painted.” It’s good that there is a well-realized thematic intent at work here; the problem is that it’s often smothered beneath piles of genre-requisite leaden cloaks of bass-heavy drones. There’s movement and texture here, and a lot of sound sources pulled in and manipulated, but I couldn’t shake a constant “let’s get on with it” feeling–long stretches where I waited for something more interesting to happen. This is a disc you need to listen to in headphones. The density of sounds is laudable, and between the overt and the sublimated there’s a lot to hear. To me, Tholen is most interesting in the track “Cryogenic Ceremonies,” which starts with the sounds of a struggle–shivering breaths, groans of pain, a sudden silence–that come off exactly as unnerving as the artist clearly intended them to be. At the very end, a piano, played slowly, breaks through the drone. All in all, Neuropol is a decent dark ambient CD that’s content to not upset the status quo of the genre. Fans of this style should definitely give it a listen.
On a design note, the inside cover of the jacket has quite a bit of writing on it. I’d love to know what it says, but the scheme of a thick, shadowed, grayish-brown font over the dark background makes it entirely unreadable. An unfortunate waste of space and resources. I’m not sure how the folks at the label overlooked it.
Available from Cyclic Law.