George Pacheco Boston Examiner
Austria´s Thelema continue to grow and progress on their latest effort for homegrown label Cineploit Records, exploring dynamic and emotionally resonant territory with a starkly melodic sound.
Growing ventures further beyond the Portishead and Twin Peaks influences which defined the bands „Hearing the Light“ opus a couple of years ago via a dense layered and textured sound, one which incorporates female vocals, E-bow and ominous, tolling church bells alongside the band´s established sound of synth and piano heavy electronica.
Hans Jurgen is the man behind Thelema, and it´s on Growing where the man´s capabilities as a songwriter are truly rising to the forefront. There are moments here which speak largely of the man´s fascination with the cult scores to evocative cinema of the 1960´s and 70´s, particularly the Italian Giallo & Horror Film. There are even moments which mimic the showdowns of the old spaghetti west, amplified by Jurgen´s tasteful use of electric guitar.
There vibe of Growing is pensive for the most part, however, drawing comparisons perhaps to bands like Antimatter and Sigur Ros, while sounding entirely like no one else out there right now in the experimental, electronic music scenes. This is something to be commended, and certainly serves as a feather in the cap for Cineploit Records, for whom Thelema has clearly become a flagship act, a band whose potential is seemingly limitless when it comes to reinventing moody, melodic electronic music.
Marcus Stiglegger / Deadline
War das Wiener Label Cineploit schon von Beginn an immer für Überraschungen gut hat es sich mit dem neuen Album der österreichischen Formation THELEMA nun selbst übertroffen. Statt der gewonten soundtrackartigen Passagen und gelegentlichen Melodie Hooks stehen nun tatsächlich Lieder im Zentrum, zudem gesungen von einer cleanen Frauenstimme. Das ist Jenseitspop vom Feinsten und mündet auch hier immer wieder in dronigen Abgründen, die souverän durchschifft werden. Ein reifes Album, das nicht umsonst „Growing“ heißt, aber zugleich nicht so geschmeidig im Label Programm steht wie andere. Dafür appeliert es an ein breiteres Publikum. Vielleicht gar eine gelunge Einstiegsdroge?
Norman Records UK
Having just reviewed Rashomon’s trippy new scores to Ladislaw Starewicz’s early 20th century stop-motion short films, it’s time to dig into the other offering from soundtrack-homage specialists Cineploit. This LP by Thelema contains 18 short but expansive tracks which offer a sweeping cinematic sadness with distorted post-rock guitars and lots of keys from main man Hans Jurgen, who plays piano, rhodes and organ with occasional accompaniment from Thom Kinberger (guitars), Adelheid Winkler (vocals) and Judith Fellner (flute).
The pieces have a thoughtful and emotional angle which reminds me of Clint Mansell a little, although obviously the textures here are much less diverse than you’d find on one of Mansell’s soundtracks, often a little on the Nils Frahm-meets-Angelo Badalamenti side – earnest and emotional piano tinklings with only the subtlest of accompaniments. The vocals aren’t doing much for me to be honest, they’re sparingly used, with the bulk of the tracks being instrumental, but they do somewhat break the fourth wall on what is otherwise a very soundtracky album. That aside there are plenty lovely heartstring-tugging little miniatures to be found, thoughtfully constructed and evocative, and Jurgen clearly has a knack for subtle emotional manipulation. Much less awkwardly fascinating than the Rashomon LP on the same label this week, but very thoughtful and pretty nonetheless.
Dusty Groove / Chicago
Really beautiful work from Thelema – still in the same dark soundtrack mode as before, but with some surprisingly tuneful elements too! The music is heavy on piano, Fender Rhodes, and organ – often used in these spare, resonant styles that recall the horror scoring that first inspired Thelema – but also mixed occasionally with a bit of flute or vocals – in ways that reflect the more tuneful turn you’d hear from some of the darker corners of the 80s industrial scene – such as later work from Nocturnal Emissions, Graeme Revell, or Zoviet France. The blend of modes is really beautiful, and has us liking these guys even more than before – and the album’s filled with short, wonderful titles that include “Tension”, “Valley Of Thoughts”, “White Fuzz”, “All Is Simple All Is Clear”, “Raod Of Thoughts”, “We Grow”, “All I See I Am”, and “Becoming More”.