Dead but dreaming. Dead but very busy playing music and releasing albums: "Dead" is the nick the musician behind Ankhagram chose to preserve his identity from the curiosity of the outside world. Listening to his music, I picture Dead as a very quiet man, loving nothing more than seclusion and inner contemplation. "Leave me alone!", or more likely, "Would you please just leave me alone?" could be the subtitle for all his discography. Ankhagram is a rather ancient project, born around 2005; it has aged gracefully, I must say. While 'Neverending Sorrow' and 'Under Ruins' still sounded very much like a more despondent, less bombastic Shape of Despair, the album that came next, 'Where Are You Now' already moved slightly away from the Finns' wake, defining a more personal sound, vaporous, tragic, more restrained. This new album, 'Thoughts' goes even deeper into that soft and cloudy personal inner sphere of the author. That title describes fittingly the grey, melancholic, yes, thoughtful soundscapes which build the album's texture, thoughts written in red ink in a leather-covered diary; they drift away underscored by the haunting keyboard lines: simple, sombre, weaving a mysterious, very climatic background.
Almost a decade has now passed under the bridge, during which Dead has refined his own take on Funeral Doom. Being Russian, his music bears all the expected symptoms of the Russian spleen. Deep growls, a large part left to the keys, wide scope, depressing moods... But there's more in Ankhagram's music: there's a sense of the intimate, a peculiar care for simplicity, even austerity; every department is governed by that quasi-Protestant asceticism - piano, riffing, drumming, growls. No turmoil breaks the harmony of the music. Dead has managed to channel his energy, diluting it into mellow, but very 'inhabited' monochromatic atmospheres. His long funereal dirges are cleverly interlaced with very down-to-earth sounds: mostly the sound of a train running on its track and the murmur of a crowd coming through the music like from a dream. Those prosaic moments don't interrupt the flow at all, far more, they convey a feeling of hopelessness, of alienation mixed with an understated nostalgia.
The album's structure makes it appear as a cohesive whole rather than a succession of different songs, a dark painting of a world seen through a blurred surface. Ankhagram's contribution to Funeral Doom could be overlooked by many, its only flaw being its modesty. All those others, who are capable of enjoying bitter-sweet moods, aren't disgusted by elegance and can stand large moments of pure ambient music (the closing track is a masterpiece of the kind, with a great progression). Please, do yourself a favour and listen to this album.