Take a moment to drink in the epic beauty of the image to the left of this text. It’s amazing that a picture with so much monochrome can conjure such a powerful atmosphere: the loneliness of the sole figure, the crushingly vast scale of the shadowy structure he inhabits, the warm hope offered by the view below, all within a dark sci-fi setting that triggers flashbacks to late-night Deus Ex gaming sessions or Phillip K. Dick reading binges. My expectations for the music are already sky high without hearing a single note, and are only increased on discovering that Tid (aka Time Is Divine) contains former members of Swedish experimentalists Magna Carta Cartel and Subvision. Can they possibly have come up with music that matches such an incredible visual impact?
First impressions are very good, with intro “Bom Shiva” setting the scene perfectly. This may appear to be a strange compliment, but it sounds like the backing music to sci-fi video game menu screen (perhaps my Deus Ex memory taking over) – creating the correct atmosphere and generating suspense for the voyage that’s about to start. The cold synths laden with hours of reverb, obscure sound effects and background whispers rapidly give way to the crunchy guitar riff and pounding drums of “Dumhetens Gudinna” – a track that manages to maintain the original atmosphere while changing stylistic tack. Subdued verses lead into rousing choruses with unexpectedly powerful and melodic vocal lines, heavy guitars and bombastic synths, all the while sounding futuristic and mysterious.
This novel blend is Tid‘s modus operandi for the remainder of the record: well managed builds and breaks, prominent and powerful synths, strong melodies, and oceans of reverb combining to create a cold, spacey, futuristic vibe. Each track employs these elements in a distinctive way, though. The simplistic and catchy tunes in “Dumhetens Gudinna” are replaced by odd phrase-lengths and dissonant riffing in “Aurora Surrealis,” while “Solens Nya Namn” almost breaks the atmosphere with its cheery refrain. Finally, the intensely epic penultimate track “Demimond” builds for what seems like an eternity before breaking into a gorgeous melody to end. Outro “Nadir” repeats this melody in an entirely new context: we are transported back down to Earth by the sound of crackling flames, the tune now employed as a subdued folk song around a campfire. I wonder if this is a memory of the cover’s lone figure, longing to return to the distant warmth of the world below. Unfortunately my Swedish is not good enough to understand the lyrics1, so the truth will remain an enigma (little help here, AMG?).
The overall impression Tid have created with Fix Idé is fantastic, but several details hold it back from perfection. Just to prove it’s possible, I will complain that the album is too short: discounting the brief intro and outro, we are left with only four songs, each between four and eight minutes long. Previously Tid only released EPs, and at a total of twenty-eight minutes, Fix Idé feels more like that than the full length record it should be. Secondly, while the songwriting is generally excellent, Tid are not the best at starting a track, with several song intros excessively padded. Finally, the dynamic range could be a little broader2. The production is fantastic and conveys the feeling of the music perfectly, but the heavier and denser sections become cramped and could have had greater impact with less compression.
Saving the length issue, though, these are really minor problems with what is a fantastically executed concept. Vocalist Claudio Marino is also an artist, designer, and filmmaker, so the fabulous execution of the visual aspect and cinematic scope of the music comes as little surprise. The well-balanced combination of post-metal, industrial and synthwave provides a perfect base for the futuristic universe that Tid explore. I suggest you join them on their journey.