Take a second to imagine the deepest, darkest place you’ve ever been in your life. I know, what an uplifting way to start this review, right? But seriously, if you can, try to imagine a moment in your life when you were at your lowest and at the bottom of a dark, depressing hole. Now throw on The Quest for a Morning Star by Costin Chioreanu. You now have the perfect soundtrack to your despair. So, here’s a fair warning: this will easily be one of the darkest records you’ll ever hear.
If the name Costin Chioreanu rings a bell, then you’re probably familiar with bands like At the Gates, Darkthrone, and Napalm Death. Aside from being a musician, Chioreanu is an incredible graphic artist who has created some wonderful art for these bands, and I believe he approaches song writing in the same way that he approaches his graphic art. It’s very clear from the get-go that this record is an art piece. The opening track “Absent, Abstract, Above” may as well be the opening soundtrack to a horror movie with its ominous soundscape and church bells ringing in the background. “An Empire Beneath Oblivion” is both incredibly dark and beautiful at the same time, and the string arrangements on this track are wondrous. “Phantasma and the Midnight Stalker” is, once again, a completely dark and desolate track. Clearly, at this point in the record, it becomes quite evident that there won’t be any moments of sunshine coming through on this record. “Ihwaz” continues into the black hole of despair that is The Quest for a Morning Star, and “Outside the Great Circle” sounds like it could be a lost Sunn O))) track.
Here’s the thing about The Quest for a Morning Star. It’s truly a beautiful work of art. But, like most art, it’s subjective based on your personal tastes. For me, this record needs to be accompanied by something else. Chioreanu has created soundtracks for his art exhibitions in the past, and this record would certainly work in that fashion. However, on its own, it’s a tough listen. There is no perceivable song structure on here, which is why this record is more of a Chioreanu art piece than it is an actual record. That’s perfectly fine, but you really need to be in a certain mood to listen to something like this, or at least I do. That being said, accompanied by some of Chioreanu’s art, I could see and hear this record coming alive in a completely different way, and I’m certain my appreciation of it would change. As a stand-alone, right now I don’t see myself revisiting this record any time soon, sadly.
Written by Dominic Abate
*edited by Kate Erickson