The latest from Alexander Leonard Donat sees him pushing his post-punk project Vlimmer into even brighter and darker realms. His varied sonic worlds seem to keep colliding together, grabbing bits of both his Fir Cone Children and Vlimmer projects, turning the darker realms lighter, and the lighter a bit darker. With XIIIIII/XIIIIIII(16 & 17) the Vlimmer sound keeps the early Cure Gothic vibes alive, while expanding the pop undertones. Like imagine a recording session with Robert Smith and Andy Partridge in 1980 and the album that may have birthed. This is the sonic world we’re in with Vlimmer, and I for one love it.
“Perplexität” swings and sways like Abwarts mixing it up with Bauhaus, all the while wanting to win you over with a beautiful pop hook. “Lebenswert” goes even further into more subtle pop tones, giving us a ghostly track to haunt you long after it ends. “Kopfkante” wobbles and distorts like My Bloody Valentine. I’m also reminded of The Soft Moon and Cold Cave at times.
“Schattenerde” has an air of quiet desperation. A bit of dark wave and Gothic pop intermingle here beautifully. “Falter” is built on subtle electronics and a cloudy day mood. “Farbenquell” feels like a long walk down a darkened hallway. It’s a weighty track that lays heavy on the chest. Morose, lanky, and resigned to the darkness for eternity.
Donat has created two very distinct moods for XIIIIII and XIIIIIII, the latter giving us more upbeat tracks while the former delves into the more rainy day maudlin of bands like This Mortal Coil and Seventeen Seconds-era Cure. While sounding very distinct and separate from one another, it’s still very clear that this is the work of Alexander Leonard Donat’s Vlimmer.
XIIIIII/XIIIIIII(16 & 17) will satisfy both the overcast romantic and bedroom Gothic in us all.
7.8 out of 10
XIIIIII/XIIIIIII is out now on Blackjack Illuminist Records. Buy it here.