The musical world of FERN is like a midnight metro ride, past flickering lights and across shifting tracks. It is a brooding metropolitan world where nothing is what it seems and where marvel and menace co-exist at the same time. The city at night can be a deceitful place. Pleasure can quickly turn to pain and beauty can be found in the murkiest of places. Likewise, FERN can be both dark and light, both distant and intimate, and both soothing and punishing. Combining pop-sensibility with experimental production and incredible attention to detail, FERN harnesses the incredible musical and literary poetry of Paul Seidel (The Ocean Collective, Nightmarer), standing on the shoulders of great eclectic pop artists like Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode and Björk.
On the first full-length album under the FERN moniker, drummer Paul Seidel serves his dark poetry with deceptively catchy tunes and chunky grooves you can step to. Balancing between the emotional experimental pop music of Björk and the punishing industrial rock of Nine Inch Nails, FERN explores the fast-changing nature of reality in our digital society through a filter of moody synths, painfully precise drumming, and a fearless vocal delivery. “These songs are an invitation to explore human identity in this rapidly digitized world we live in,” explains the Berlin-based drummer about the ten tracks that together make up Intersubjective.
Running from ‘առաջանալ’ (emergence) to ‘Afterlife’, Intersubjective seemingly makes up the story of a lifetime and it instantly invites us to relate ourselves to the music. By taking analogue instruments and distorting their sounds, they become indistinguishable from their source, creating a sense of alienation that resonates with the dysphoria of being a physical being living in a world that becomes increasingly digitalised. Tracks like ‘Simulacrum’ and ‘Hyperreal’ are wide-eyed anthems to anxiety, effectively setting the scene with their extensive use of syncopation and distorted vocals, but the album quickly takes a turn inward on the midsection.
The three tracks ‘Exnomination’, ’Rupture’, and ‘I Am A Transient’ dial back on the big groovy rhythms and passionate vocals to offer a more introspective experience. Acting as a deep-dive into the human consciousness, these ambient tracks feature haunting but strangely soothing instrumentals and lush auto-tuned vocals. “It’s necessary sometimes to be still and gain experience of your self in order to make more meaningful experiences of and with others,” comments Seidel. “Like in meditation, it’s a process of letting go off constant thought and impression in order to learn about your inner workings.” FERN finds solace and inspiration in the concept of intersubjectivity; the idea that reality is created in the interaction between two or more consciousness and the need for connection.
Indeed, the final tracks of the album are marked by a nearness, a sense of intimacy that is carried in the words, but also in the music. “Move your head upon my shoulder, pour your heart into my soul,” Seidel sings at the end of ‘Afterlife’, almost as if to say, “Yes, the future is uncertain and the past is the past, but it all will be good if we face it together.” In the end, Intersubjective arrives at an unexpected apotheosis that offers a mature wisdom to conquer the tumult of modernity. That same maturity is found in the sounds and words that comprise this record. The attention to detail on this record is beyond impressive, and while its most accessible moments will have you dancing on your feet, it is the more subdued moments that will leave you in awe, making Intersubjectiveinto an opus the quality of which is undeniable.