5th April 2023 0 By Jon Deaux
SHRVL is the dark ambient project of The Ocean Collective synth player Peter Voigtmann. 
As part of the ltd edition 4LP and CD boxsets of The Ocean’s upcoming new record ‘Holocene‘, which also includes the vocal and instrumental versions of the album, there is an extra LP/CD of Voigtmann’s solo material which offers an intriguing alternative view on some of the musical ideas of ‘Holocene‘, and a deep insight into his creative mind.
The Ocean‘s Robin Staps explains the writing process behind ‘Holocene‘:

The writing process of every album we’ve ever made started with me coming up with a guitar riff, a drumbeat or a vocal idea. This album is different since every single song is based on a musical idea that was originally written by Peter (Voigtmann, synths). He came up with these amazing synth parts that were already sounding huge in pre-production, and he sent me some of those raw, unfinished ideas during mid-lockdown 2020… and while it was all electronic, it had that definite Ocean vibe to it. It made me want to pick up my guitar instantly… and so I did, and it didn’t take long until we had an inspiring creative exchange that was heading towards totally unforeseen but very exciting places.”

Titled ‘Limbus’, the world gets a definitive introduction to the absolutely brilliant work of synth master Peter Voigtmann. Working from the musical sketches of what would later become The Ocean’s upcoming 10th studio album ‘Holocene’, Voigtmann takes a deep dive down where the Berlin-based atmospheric post-metal juggernauts The Ocean shifted a gear up. 
Limbus‘ is a 45-minute long sonic exploration of the main themes of ‘Holocene capturing them in a Bermuda triangle between haunting beats, swirling synths, and an old Russian piano. With song titles following the different stages of major depressive disorder treatment, Limbus‘ is a hidden chronicle of Peter’s ongoing journey on the path of living with clinical depression. 
“The first notes and sounds you hear on the album were literally the first things I recorded after my very first therapy session,” recounts Peter as he divulges more about the recording process. “This record was a massive experiment to get to know my new studio – so pretty much everything you hear is based on real recordings of real performances with real instruments.” 
The first four tracks unfold as more subdued companion pieces to tracks from Holocene, uncovering recognizable themes and motifs, while distorting their features into obscure shapes. Dwelling in the deep and looking up, we are offered a rare glimpse of perspective on the bright lights that exist at the surface of our consciousness and which irradiate our daily lives. 
Named after the first step in major depressive disorder treatment, Response is the opening track on ‘Limbus’—a sonic exploration of Peter’s ongoing healing process. A Bermuda triangle between acoustic drums, haunting synths, and an old Russian piano, Response is Kafka in technicolor, Massive Attack meets Alice in Borderland, and a warm but suffocating blanket all at once. He adds,
“During our latest North American tour, I frequently had the feeling of being in a massive video game. Especially on tour, everybody has different quests to fulfill every single day. We gain experience, we unlock achievements, our inventories need to stay organized and the range of enjoyment can vary from easy floating flow-states of pure joy, to extremely boring grinds or even feeling like being trapped in a nightmare. I started to film this footage in one of these rather grim moments, but I instantly realized that this allows me to resemble this exact feeling of blending reality with simulation to a degree, that the boundaries become indistinguishable – pretty much like slowly losing your mind.”
Culminating in the 24-minute long closing track Recurrence, which sees Voigtmann tread new ground, ‘Limbus’ is an ambient odyssey into the uncanny akin to The Caretaker’s “Everywhere at The End of Time“ albeit in a more accessible and digestible format. Melting together the electronic, the acoustic, the analog and the digital realm, ‘Limbus’ is a warm but suffocating blanket that projects Kafka in technicolor and Massive Attack by way of Alice In Borderland. 

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