Vathres is a new project led by Swedish, Stockholm-based keyboardist-composer and Thanatosis Produktion label founder Alex Zethson (known from Mats Gustafsson’s Fire! Orchestra, Martin Küchen’s Angles, Goran Kajfeš’ Tropiques and Mariam the Believer projects), exploring the common ground of experimental jazz, electronics and transcendental and minimalist post-rock often associated with Sunn O))) and the doom-metal pioneers Earth. The 14-piece ensemble features guitar wizard Reine Fiske (of Dungen fame), former prog-metal Meshuggah bassist Gustaf Hielm and post-metal Cult of Luna drummer Christian Augustin. The debut album of this ensemble, Liturgy of Lacuna, was recorded, mixed and co-produced by guitarist-producer-engineer Anton Toorell at Stockholm’s Mälarhöjden Social Club between July 2020 and November 2022.
Liturgy of Lacuna is an intriguing extension and development of Zethson’s previous projects like the minimalist and gamelan-inspired chamber-kraut of Some of them were never unprepared (Relative Pitch Records/Thanatosis, 2021), the organic synth-piano drone solo work Residy (SUPERPANG/Thanatosis 2022), and the ethereal, voice-centered EP Terje (Supertraditional, 2023). It is based on basic, skeletal ideas Zethson had for more than ten years that kept demanding his attention, now «transformed into a living organism, with flesh and blood», but with surprising turns throughout the process.
The album offers three image-evoking pieces like movements of abstract but coherent epos. The first two pieces «and the ashes birthed them into air and their bodies hurtled towards the fire of the sun» and «and the sun was subsumed by the lands of silk and soil» have been sculpted by utilizing the studio as a compositional tool throughout multiple sessions, while the third, more dramatic one «and the screams of the now extinct machines, rose again as nothingness» was made in a long uninterrupted first cut. These pieces introduce tactile, noisy electronics and feedback, odd meter pulses and distorted and doom metal riffs into the forward-thinking jazz of Zethson and his comrades. These suggestive and seductive pieces act like a vibrant sonic organism that captures immediately the listeners’ attention with its poetic, powerful music and guarantees a hypnotic bath of 37 minutes of transcendental bliss.
Alex Zethson (Fender Rhodes, piano, Prophet Rev2), Leo Svensson Sander (cello), Torbjörn Zetterberg (electric bass), Vilhelm Bromander (double bass), Konrad Agnas (drums), Juan Romero (percussions), Christer Bothén (bass clarinet), Tomas Hallonsten (keyboards), Goran Kajfeš (trumpet), Daniel M Karlsson (electronics), Christian Augustin (drums), Reine Fiske (guitar), Gustaf Hielm (electric bass), Anton Toorell (synth bass)