Sigh – Imaginary Sonicscape (2001)
So as previously mentioned, Sigh started out as a rather doomy black metal band, and completely gave it up by this album in favor of psychedelic rock and old style heavy metal. Mind you, that’s only what they’d have if they stripped away all the other influences and genres they’d put into this album.
One thing I’ve noticed (but rarely seen mentioned) about Sigh is that despite moving closer to ‘normal’ music, they’ve never really become more accessible. Their first two albums were comprehensible enough, but the obvious black metal elements may have lead to some knee jerk rejection by listeners. Then they dived full on into ‘avant-garde’ and increased the density of their music. Case in point on this album – ‘Scarlet Dream’ is full of samples, organ, synthesizer solos, and has the ‘infamous’ reggae section in the middle that makes it such an accurate introduction to Sigh. At any moment, there’s a great deal of musical ideas going on simultaneously, which is the exact opposite of Sigh’s early approach. Suffice it to say that latter day Sigh likes to throw it in over their current basics. Even Gallows Gallery, which ditches the harsh vocals (and therefore the last vestiges of black metal) in favor of processed singing goes for this wall of sound production, and on the remaster has an absolutely feral guitar tone.
But enough about their other albums – behind the derangement, Imaginary Sonicscape is basically a rocker. The real emphasis here is on catchy riffs and solos. There’s plenty of keyboard and guitar interplay, and plenty of diversions into other genres of music. But if you start at the beginning, with the leading track (Corpsecry/Angelfall), you get much more of the former. This song hearkens back to a lot of hard rock and heavy metal with its simple, mostly verse/chorus song structure, variety of solos, and psychedelic production. Then, at the end, there’s an abrupt transition to a symphonic section before the song finishes. Compared to the previous album, the production values are very heavily buffed, and the overall mood is often more upbeat. There are a few dives into old Sigh’s darkness, like the beginning of the Slaughtergarden Suite, but even that turns into a discotheque a few minutes in. Indeed, compared to the albums before and after it, Imaginary Sonicscape seems to have an especially heavy funk/disco/dance influence to it. Combined with the rock elements, it makes for an entertaining listen. Juxtaposed over this are Sigh’s typical lyrical themes – death, murder, the occult, and so forth. Due to the lightening of the music, they almost seem out of place. But what would you replace them with? Sigh might seem polished and refined on this album, but their past eccentricities creep up now and then, much to their benefit. Who else would end their album with baby laughter forming Chopin’s Minute Waltz?
Highlights: “Nietzschean Conspiracy”, “Ecstatic Transformation”, “Slaughtergarden Suite”, “Requiem – Nostalgia”