• Sofia Blackweather

REVIEW: STRIDULUM - Soothing Tales of Escapism

I'm just a bit behind in my review of this album that dropped a little over a month ago, but hopefully my late review will be a helpful reminder to those who haven't yet checked out this band. STRIDULUM is a musical project based in Southern Poland, formed in 2019. The duo are Marita Volodina on vocals/lyrics and Arkadiy Berg handling the instrumentation. Soothing Tales of Escapism, which was released December 2021 via Manic Depression Records, is the band's first full-length album after the release of the Burial EP in 2020. The ten-song LP flows consistently from song to song, and each track is uniquely crafted with clean production and loads of attention to detail.

STRIDULUM's Arkadiy Berg and Marita Volodina

The duo describes themselves as a "retrofuturistic entity from hopeless carbon fields of Southern Poland." which I'd say it's a good description. The "retro" part of their sound is a combination of synthwave and minimal wave synth sounds along with harmonic and strong vocals that remind me of a few of my favorite 90s goth queens like Tina Root or Monica Richards. Profound lyrics, sung in English, dive deep into various tormented topics, that perhaps surround a central concept. The subtitle of the album listed on Bandcamp says, "Songs of Penance & Salvation," which could certainly hint at the presence of a theme.

I could make some comparisons here when listening to the various electronic sounds present. All are palatial yet minimal, modern yet still holding hands with the past, perhaps I could make a comparison to some of the thematic music of Blade Runner or Night Rider, or perhaps early Human League, a bit of Broken Frame era Depeche Mode, and everything off the Drive soundtrack. Stand-outs for me are the third track, Ghost, and the second to the last track Home. The album as a whole is deeply rich in layers of electronic and melodic arrangements combined with dramatic vocals that give a satisfying feeling of beginning, middle, and end. I must confess I really love a great instrumental outro track, and Ashes gives the album a gorgeous yet unsettling finish. Soothing Tales of Escapism is a delicious delight to the ears and the soul. 8/10

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