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Ellylldan - The Grey of the Storm Blinds All Hope

Nature is a being of many tongues, and for most of human history it has spoken to select mortals much more intimately than others. Ellylldan (the guise of English folk troubadour Sam Knight) is one such gifted individual, and the musician maintains a close bond with the natural world few of us are capable of. I'll wager that an exceedingly tiny amount of people are truly and physically able to accurately convey what the first Earthly rainfall must have sounded like, or how the choppy waves would have smashed into barren harbors had man never settled and exploited them. Ellylldan may just be one lone voice (and not even that, as this outfit employs no vocals) but it is highly apparent that the man's connection with the flora and fauna of this world is a deep one indeed. All this makes for a surprisingly compelling journey on the hour-long epic that is The Grey of the Storm Blinds All Hope, Ellylldan's debut record on the ambient/black/folk label that is Dungeons Deep Records. Quiet, serene, and timeless, the immersion required by listeners here is a daunting one but definitely worth the effort.

The reason for such initial misgivings towards this disc is that The Grey is a hour-long epic track of naught but quiet percussion, swelling yet delicately faint synth tones, and cleverly spliced sounds gleaned directly from natural phenomenon. There isn't what most would consider typical action and this is most assuredly not heavy music in any literal sense of the word; however, one cannot help but come back again and again for more with this album. It is as if Ellylldan has gently grabbed one's wrist and ushered them back into a time long before humanity, a British Isle filled with nothing but acres of pristine woods and all manner of majestic animals inhabiting them. You may spend a hour listening to pretty much anything, but with The Grey of the Storm Blinds All Hope listeners will get a literal teleportation into arcane realms of chaotic and grand wilderness. It may be a hour of soft ambience and random nature sounds, but the end result is not so much music but a true journey through life itself. Maybe I am just overly passionate, but this honestly makes me taste each and every silvery drop of rain that falls all the while greenery drifts into my nostrils with its pleasant, earthy smell and my eyes are greeted with rays of white light through an endless array of oaks and firs.
Listeners are greeted with one "song" per se, but in reality the epic is divided into seven fairly separate chapters, each of which propels along a sense of storyline quite unlike anything I've previously experienced. I feel as if I am emerging from some kind of Earthly tomb to a world well devoid of mankind, and from there I wander through open vales and dark, brooding woods, all before scaling titanic cliffs and watching the sun rise in all-consuming splendor over creation. Following all of this, I plunge below into the ocean churning chaotically beneath my feet and breath it all in, truly fulfilled, and come back later to light a crackling fire in the groves of unexplored woods. All of this is made manifest on each and every listener's journey, as ethereal synths ala the quietest of Summoning passages ebb and flow behind pouring rain, frothy waves, and twittering birds unafraid of modern human society. Liberating and carefree, this is a powerful quest of self-realization to be sure!

Regardless of how vivid the epic's musical conjurations are, the true joy of The Grey of the Storm Blinds All Hope lies in its earnest sense of wordless narrative and simplicity in Earth's quietly elegant surprises. In this hectic, urban, and overly-ordered world of mine, I find a strangely resounding solace in a realm of no weather predictions or nearby villages, roaring cars or crowded city streets. Man is often credited with inventing music, but Ellylldan has made me question the honesty of such a theory; perhaps nature has been here all this time, playing notes we simply couldn't hear over all the buzz. Shut up and listen.

Chapter 1---The Barrow
Chapter 2---Ignis Fatuus
Chapter 3---Over Misty Moors
Chapter 4---The Cliff Path
Chapter 5---Dawn of the Sun God
Chapter 6---A Raven's Wing
Chapter 7---Solace



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