As forbidding and icy as the cracked and scratched surfaces which adorn its sleeve, Austeros opens with shuddering dry heaves of bass which threaten as much as they signify an ominous portent of glacial things to come. Like a heavier doom-laden cousin to Thomas Köner‘s equally resonant arcticscapes, Inner Vision Laboratory sketch out and fill in the detail of sound stages filled with slow — very slow — accretions of ponderous low end and ear-piercing tones which stab and slice like the supply of razor-edged glass fragments held in deep freeze by a cultist awaiting the unthawing of the great old ones.This impression is only accentuated by the keening vocal drones, frenetic percussion and horripillating tones which emerge on the likes of “Three Until You See”; elsewhere, on the suitably mordantly-titled “A Home To None”, the combination of scattered wind chimes and a decidedly ripply addition to the already gloomy atmosphere lets Karol Skrzypiec take things further into slow motion ice age electronica. Clanks of scrap metal or pots and pans splinter among the deep bowings of “Rust Vermilion Faces” heralding a step change in mood; things don’t become any lighter, oh no, nor any less heavy — they get more thunderously ominous, if anything — but the rhythmic motion develops something akin to a groove, a glimmer of analogue warmth like a slow motion dub attempting to slide free from the constraints of winter into a vernal rebirth as the listener is invited to “Bow Before Ancient Mother”.
Inner Vision Laboratory’s cautiously emergent rite of spring is no picnic under the blossoms, however, as synthetic strings rise hesitantly from the still-grinding throes of winter until the heartbeat booms more strongly. It’s not a happy conclusion, exactly, but it more than suffices to open the way for the drips which herald the inevitable defrosting and the tentative splash of what may soon be open, clear waters, perhaps even thronging with life.