I have never reviewed a single track. Not that I’m against the idea, it just never crossed my mind before. Then one afternoon, I got an email with the subject reading in part:
“Fragment Soul – feat. Heike Langhans”
That’s all I needed to read, because Heike Langhans is an absolute favorite of mine. Her voice on Draconian’s “Under A Godless Veil” nearly broke me last year, and her other project, Light Field Reverie, is spectacular as well. So, I did not hesitate to click the provided link for the Fragment Soul single, “A Choice Between Two Evils.” I was not prepared for what I was about to see and hear. Check it out.
The opening guitar chords fit so well with the snowy landscape. Fog and sadness. This is what can be seen in the man’s eyes, as he stares off into the distance at the memory of a woman. As the vocals enter, the man closes his eyes, and the memory comes to life.
“Standing here with you
I feel the sorrow in my veins.”
He can feel her standing behind him, but as he turns, the memory walks away. He can see her dancing in the distance, unaware of everything but the wind.
“I’ll follow you, to the edge…
Even there, where darkness lurks.”
He makes up his mind to follow what is clearly his heart, and steps through the veil of impossible things into the icy warmth of a dream. And as the music swells, the memory reaches out for him to follow.
At this point the song is just about at the three-minute mark, but it’s obvious the story has just begun. Not that it matters. Anyone still listening at this point very much wants to hear how things end.
One mark of exceptional art, particularly of the musical variety, is the absence of any preconception of time. The song takes exactly as long as it needs to take to say what it needs to say. If you’re paying attention to your watch, the song has failed. Visual art requires that the artist be very precise with the movement captured, in order to keep an audience looking long enough to appreciate the story being told. What the video for “A Choice Between Two Evils” provides is a beautiful example of near perfection in audio-visual storytelling.
Everything ebbs and flows. The snow on the ground, and in the air. Through his fingers runs her hair. The lifting and falling of mistiness. The reluctance of a dreamer to accept that he’s awake. And on the other side of this certainty, she waits as a ghost. Watching the man she loves suffer alone.
Back in the real world, six minutes have passed. The music up to this point sounds very much like a slower Porcupine Tree tune. “Lips of Ashes,” perhaps, off of In Absentia. Nick Argyriou’s vocals are remarkably similar to Steven Wilson’s, in all the best ways possible. Heike’s voice has not yet been heard. When she does come in, the vibe of the entire experience changes. Because up until then, the story has only been told through the man’s point of view.
With Heike’s presence comes the woman’s point of view, and now we see that the two of them have been together in their loneliness the entire time. They’re watching and waiting for each other. Both the couple in this story and the two vocalists compliment each other’s stories, and don’t get in each other’s way as one is trying to express such heartfelt emotions.
“A Choice Between Two Evils” is an impeccable duet. Flawlessly written and executed. It’s nearly twelve minutes long, but you don’t want it to end. And hey, guess what, it doesn’t have to! Because it’s only one of the four songs on the album. An album, I’m sure you’ll agree, everyone needs to hear.
“Axiom Of Choice” is available now. Streaming on all major platforms, and available for purchase digitally and on CD, via Bandcamp.