Roman asked me two weeks ago if I wanted to do a review of the new album by Polish Post-Rock band Besides. As he mentioned that the thematic framework of the album is constructed by the stories and fates of the prisoners of Auschwitz and the people who lived in the shadow of the concentration camp – I hesitated. Am I able to do a review about a topic as sensitive and important as this one? In the end, I decided to do so – not only because of the framework, which still is of utmost importance, but also because the album is an outstanding Post-Rock release overall.
Every single song has a special topic about the time when the concentration camp in Auschwitz existed. After an atmospheric intro that tonally introduces you to the album in a perfect manner, the first song “Ich bin wieder da!” starts quite peacefully and friendly, but gradually proceeds into a darker and more depressing atmosphere. After a radio news about the fall of France, you as a listener know that the story of the fate of so many human lives will change dramatically – and the album enters their history.
The whole album showcases very sensitive, sonorous music that I liked a lot. For every song and its corresponding specific topic, Besides achieve a special sound which connects to the story. For example, the song “For Hanna” has a sensitive beginning with parallel sound structures – dramatic – it drags you down, because you feel how something with so much hope is torn away. The song “Miners” achieves a sound in your ear that lets you recognize a mining tunnel, it combines different tones merging into one – a sign that these people trying to act as a whole help each other out as good as they can, a little ray of hope in all the darkness. With their sixth song “Kids,” the soud starts to differ. Besides add the sound of kids’ toys at the beginning and voices of kids at the end – and in between they play a dangerous but innocent sound. Kids – their whole life still in front of them – imprisoned in a death camp – maybe they don’t actually know what is going on, but they will never forget.
My favourite track is “Simon’s Ohel”, which showcases strong symphonic elements. Szymon Kluger was the last Jewish survivor of his hometown – Oswiecim – a town with a large Jewish community having a tradition of three centuries before World War 2. His death in the year 2000 marked the end of this Jewish community and its culture in this town. Everyone else, 7.000 people, died and the few survivors emigrated – only Szymon Kluger stayed. Besides can tell this story very impressively, Post-Rock elements change to symphonic elements, Neoclassical music meets Post-Rock – I liked it a much. I don’t want to explain every single element of the songs, first of all because you should listen to it by yourselves. Besides – Bystanders is a highlight of Post-Rock in the year 2020.
In the end, I don’t want to give this album a rating, Instead, I would like you to give some minutes for the Twitter account of the Auschwitz Museum:
They are doing a great job not only to tell us the story about the camp itself, but they also do their best to give these millions of dead people who were murdered a face and a name. We must never forget this.