Review: Bart De Paepe – Pagus Wasiae (Beyond Beyond Is Beyond, Apr 20)

Bart De Paepe’s newest record Pagus Wasiae is a swampy concoction of psychedelia and bubbling electronics. The atmosphere he creates is incredibly vivid. The cover art provides a great visual representation; the music is greenish and soggy, but with enough cohesion to prevent it from falling apart. It’s the sonic equivalent of sunlight trying to break through a thick canopy of trees; the sounds are muffled and distant, tantalizingly close but trapped behind a blanket of murkiness. That is, until moments like the beginning of “Alvinclarvord,” when a scorching, fuzzy, spaced out guitar breaks through, or the tendril-like synth modulations of closing track “Moerassen Van de Gouw.” This unpredictability is one of Pagus Wasiae‘s greatest strengths. It’s almost as if De Paepe mixed and stewed a multitude of sounds like ingredients in a Chinese hot pot, leaving the choice of which elements would dissolve or break apart and which would retain their original structure to be decided organically. This gives the record a pleasing whimsicality, with just enough variation to keep the listener engaged but not enough to be jarring. Pagus Wasiae was an awesome surprise, and so far it’s gotten progressively better with each listen.