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.
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