Tuesday 7 November 2023

Respire - Debut

Labels: Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Tape/Digital

Release Date: 01 Oct 2018


1. Aeterna

2. Nox

3. Lux

4. Nihil

5. Anthems For Falling Stars

Respire is a band/collective that I've admired for so long, ever since I first heard their music. In a similar way to my admiration for Infant Island I guess. This Zegema Beach Records compilation release, simply called Debut, was committed to tape in 2018 (the same year as both Denouement and Memorial (An Accompaniement)). It gathered together Respire's first ever recording, the four song Demonstration as well as the stand alone song 'Anthems For Falling Stars', with which it shares cover art. Sixty four copies were made with two different coloured/painted jcards. All are long sold out.

The one thing I immediately noticed when hitting play on this release is that each song gets longer after opener ‘Aeterna’. A small detail maybe but one that builds intrigue I think. Providing a glimpse into the beginnings of Respire, it’s very instrument heavy, containing brass alongside the bedrock of drums and guitars, accompanied by a French language sample (at least I think it’s a sample!). ‘Nox’ is where that mix of post-hardcore and black metal was first forged, in all it’s raw beauty. Some might say it was ahead of it’s time maybe, but the fusing of screamo with a more experimental/avant-garde approach set Respire apart at the time, as it still does.

Listening to ‘Lux’ becomes such a euphoric experience the longer it goes on. It’s once again a heavily instrumental song and it benefits from so much musical ingenuity. Finding the words to adequately describe it, especially as it appeared on the band’s first demo is hard. I currently sit in my front room surrounded by so many records, cd’s and tapes yet I’m completely transfixed, and in the moment thanks to this comp. That’s how it should be.

‘Nihil’ was the final song on Respire’s Demonstration and it’s where things get somewhat heavier. The cold harsh black metal influence is toned down though thanks to the soothing brass and gentle introspection that fluctuates throughout. I must also add that the use of glockenspiel, while less noticeable in this song, adds further warmth to the music. Utterly immersive, emotive brilliance. 

Debut ends with the longest song on the comp ‘Anthems For Falling Stars’, which was described by the band as an “off the floor demo of an abandoned song”. It sees Respire adding more spoken-word vocals to their music alongside their more customary blackened blueprint. It’s still melodic and orchestral, showing a very gradual change in sound if anything. 

Physical comp releases like this are more and more relevant now. Yes there’s an importance to having music online and readily available, but nothing can beat the feel or look of a release that’s been lovingly crafted by either band or label. I doubt this will ever get repressed so enjoy it in whatever way you choose. It’s fantastic, however you listen to it.

You can stream and purchase both Demonstration and 'Anthems For Falling Stars' digitally from Respire below:-

Debut is available to stream and purchase digitally from Zegema Beach Records below too:-

Respire - https://www.facebook.com/respirefamily

Zegema Beach Records - https://www.facebook.com/zegemabeachrecords

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