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Ratkiller – On Emotional Surface

Published October, 2014
by Easterndaze

We met under the town hall clock, the venerable Old Town of Tallinn, built between 13th and 16th centuries, a living museum of sorts. Neat, clean, pretty and quiet. The only allusion to movement, perhaps, is then the port with the ominous socialist “pyramid” towering at its entrance. Mihkel Kleis, working under his monikers Edasi, Ratkiller or Istishad (each of course representing a different sonic persona) was easy to spot, with his long brown hair and Chinese-print bomber jacket. His affinity for black metal, then fit perfectly. “Since high school I had a fascination with black metal, all kinds of extreme music have always fascinated me, in fact. It was around 2007 or 2008 when I started to listen to a lot of new, strange black metal that didn’t sound like the traditional black metal at all,” he says. “It’s a sort of fantasy music, you dive into some sort of dark fantasy world, and ignore what is going on around you. I think that is one of the reasons why black metal is a one band phenomenon. It’s not a social thing, that is sort of natural for me as well. I’ve never been into politics or social complaining.”

His latest release, out on the American label Rotifer!, comes courtesy of his project Ratkiller. In contrast to Edasi, which is oriented on drone, noise and all sorts of aural experimentation – of mostly disquieting nature, Ratkiller is light, airy and strangely relaxing, sometimes reminiscing of the aesthetics Oneohtrix Point Never’s Software Recordings output, touching upon vaporwave briefly, but without the inherent self-irony (ie it’s much better). On Emotional Surface is romantic and dreamy, even though it starts kind of gothy with the Ango-Saxon Attitudes, while the instrumentals in the piano-driven Forgotten Warmth are almost ambient like. Anthropomorphic is an amalgam of animal voices and samples, sounding as if it was taking place at some exotic market. But throughout, it is mellow and tranquil, “future-past-tastic”, like Tallinn at that September afternoon.

You can listen to an interview with Mihkel via our Czech Radio show Vychodiska here (with Czech dubbing;)