Lautrec – In Search of the Water of Oblivion

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Lautrec have an approach which comes more as a manifesto rather than a standard demo connotation. This four track maiden voyage ensures itself a grand scale and is more a reflection of the meticulous craft put into it; more of a love letter to the tradition of one man black metal projects and the oft joked about thousand dollar demo cassettes; and done in an incredibly earnest way that reflects exactly what the artist is getting across.

Artist: Lautrec
Album: In Search of the Water of Oblivion
Label: Canti Eretici Productions
Release Date: December 16, 2023
Location: Brisbane, Australia

Written by Matt Lynch

Calling this debut release from Brisbane’s Lautrec a demo in the classic sense of the word seems, to be at least, to be selling is so disgustingly short that is abysmal. Granted, that’s some cultural conditioning on my behalf having grown up as a hardcore kid where demos were barely audible skeleton’s on songs recorded on one mic placed in the middle of the jam room and you had to strain your little gauged ears (mine aren’t but for the analogy, its necessary to pretend they are) in order to figure out just what the fuck is going on underneath the constant torrent of feedback and decipher what had actually been recorded because Lord knows that track was clipping beyond repair. Lautrec, however, have an approach which comes more as a manifesto rather than the demo connotations. This four track maiden voyage ensures itself a grand scale and is more a reflection of the meticulous craft put into it; more of a love letter to the tradition of one man black metal projects and the oft joked about thousand dollar demo cassettes; and done in an incredibly earnest way that reflects exactly what the artist is getting across.

Not held together by a sole narrative structure or aesthetic, the title of this demo and its track here In Search of the Waters of Oblivion draws inspiration from one of the most impressive and famous works of British Romantic Era painting. Not exactly a companion piece, but once you see the astounding scale of the art, this demo starts to make more sense. It’s like realising that that fuckwit who wrote Finnegan’s Wake had a huge hard-on for Vico, or that Dune is basically Giovanni Gentile’s wet dream, this a priori allows for things to reveal themselves to you that you might have missed otherwise.

The layers upon layers of guitars, each gleefully and tactfully embalming themselves to tightly to the former and the latter paint a scale of enormity that can give you vertigo. Once you find the main melodic line in each of these songs, it brings with it so many accompanying tremolo guitar lines that you’re immediately inundated by more and more, head becoming weighed down by an ever increasing scale you weren’t privy to when you started. It’s like Sardak, barely holding on to the precipice on which is beaten and battered body, paired down to his rags has found himself. There’s so much here that’s intertwined with itself and its assimilated parts that Lautrec has created an environ all unto themselves. This dense, impenetrable horde of guitar melodies is dutifully delivered on the back of its war horse, these drums that simply refuse to do anything apart from barrel themselves forward without any malicious intent, which arguably makes them seem more cruel in their ruthlessness. They’re just there to do their job.

The vocals are one part of this demo that I did want to spotlight because they truly standout, and stand out in particular when you look back at the previous project associated with this DAEDRIC ARMOUR. Here, Lautrec begin to bring the vocals to the forefront. Not only are the situated in a much more prominent position in the mix, but they also appear in greater amounts and with a vastly improved range. Whether this is because Lautrec was a solo effort and it was out of necessity or whether there was a more earnest, a more personal, and more cathartic reason behind this, it goes along way to foster the desperation surrounding DSBM, and black metal as an overall genre. Again though, we return to Sadak here. Amassed with this insurmountable climb yet represented as the precipice of where he was determined to go, the vocals in this demo carry that weight. A tangible fatigue is there, having drudge a way to this point and right on the point of success, the relief mixes in with the exhaustion for something truly astounding.

I realised that during a conversation I had with Elijah, the dude behind this project, that I’ve been indirectly following his bands and where’s he’s been going for nearly ten fucking years, which for a local musician, is a massive time to be interested in what they’re doing. Lautrec, in his own words, is the most aligned with the shit he wants to write and that’s so evident here. In Search of the Waters of Oblivion is so beyond a demo, like Lautrec are so beyond being a local band. Them showing up on Transmissions From the Dark, and getting a release via Italian tape label Canti Eretici is testament to that. It’s release like this where I feel so stoked that I can use whatever fucking stupid platform I have to encourage other people to listen to it. If this is only the beginning, a glimpse into what is to come, I can assure you Lautrec is going to be a name you’re going to be incredibly familiar with.




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