With In 8 Movements, Black Swan has created a consuming, emotional and nostalgic piece of art. In 8 Movements is the soundtrack to a time you never knew, but it makes you feel strangely connected to it; as though you’ve lived and experienced this brief moment of history, but you’ve just forgotten it. It is this feeling that permeates you throughout the entire album. You are overwhelmed with the feeling of lost passions, forgotten memories, and connections with people that you never knew.
It is strange to say of an album, that it makes you feel connected to strangers in a time in which you never lived, but that is exactly what In 8 Movements does. The subtle nuances of this album are what make it seem like a living entity. The delicate crackling sounds, reminiscent of old recordings, give the album a cinematic quality. The openers, “Part I” and “Part II”, welcome you into what one could imagine as an old ballroom. If you concentrate hard enough you can also imagine the spirits of, or perhaps, just the visualizations of faint memories of the people who used to dance contently there. It is a warm feeling that you take away from the movements – a feeling of past romance and passion. This is, of course, until “Part III” begins. From here In 8 Movements takes a chilling turn. There are no more warm, fuzzy effects. Instead they are replaced with an ominous droning. You are overwhelmed by a sense of mystery and worry, mostly contributed by the several violins playing at the time. You can hear faint, distant violins screaming from the dark corners of the music, while at the same time you have violins droning in your ears. The sounds of creaking floors and what sounds like pouring rain completely consume you. You feel as though you are being led through an old hallway, as you hear faint and slow footsteps. By now you are well into the fifth movement and you are quite unsure of where the album is headed.
Here comes the sixth movement suddenly to shed some light for the listener. The dynamics of the album shift suddenly. The very faint, nostalgic sounds of old music can be heard in the distance. At first you think you hear the old ballroom music again, which might certainly be true. However it is not long before In 8 Movements gently, but quickly drones you away again until you hear something else. You can only guess that it is old church music, but you can’t be sure. It is strange, but you feel comforted. You enjoy the faint recollections of old church music for quite a while. You have now been led into the final movement. All of these feelings of nostalgia and conflicting emotion culminate here. This is the end of the ride. You can feel that you are nearing the end, even though you are only three minutes into the eleven minute track. You are washed over by a deep, dark cloud of ambiance. You’ve made it far enough to know that something has to happen now. The tension is building, because you know that In 8 Movements can’t just exit with the feeling of emptiness. It spent all this time trying to touch you emotionally. It couldn’t just leave you here in the dark. However, while you are spending the next four minutes anticipating the last great moment of brilliant orchestration, In 8 Movements leaves you with nothing. The visions of old souls dancing in the ballroom vanish before you. All of this was but a glimpse into another world, a world that you never knew anyway. In 8 Movements only allowed you a brief moment into the past. From here you do not find out why you were taken through the mysterious sonicscapes or the warm nostalgic memories. You must live with the fact that you were never supposed to know.
Of course, maybe all of this will be nonsense to you. Maybe this is all just a unique experience that I am left with. It is quite possible that everything that I infer from the atmosphere of In 8 Movements is just what I want to project onto the album. Even if this is the case, does that make the album any less remarkable? Indeed not. The very fact that one could project onto and take away from their own experience this album is a testament to the genius of the album itself. The album is what you want it to be. In 8 Movements is the soundtrack to the movie in your head.