Philippe Gerber is based in Philadelphia where he has created and nurtured various musical personas.
Most of my knowledge of Philadelphia comes from the opening credits to “The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air” but I imagine, from the wide range of musical styles that Gerber is involved in, he is becoming an interesting and essential part of the Philadelphia underground music scene.
Firstly Gerber was the founding member of the hard rocking band, Heat From A Deadstar. Under the moniker of DJ Phys he makes and produces experimental electronic music and Detroit Techno influenced bangers. Gerber is also a member of the Alrealon Musique collective and record label. It is possible that there are more monikers that I’m yet to discover but for the purpose of this review, Philippe Gerber is the gentleman behind the Occult musical leanings of John 3:16.
Gospel of John, chapter 3, verse 16. “For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten son” is said to be the most widely quoted Biblical verse. Known as the “Gospel in a nutshell” it’s seen as a summary of the Christian faiths central theme. By calling your band or one man show, John 3:16 your either skipping down the lighter Christian rock path or swaggering down the dimly lit “Bow down before the one you serve” road. Gerber is definitely stalking the shadows of the latter.
Over the last twelve plus years, Gerber has been composing as John 3:16, chiefly making dark instrumental music and soundscapes. Full of brooding synths and electronic drone sounds. Layers of dark, heavy guitars, weaved with organic and electronic ritualistic rhythms. At times, loosely, drifting into the realms of imagined soundtracks and sound art. John 3:16 music is themed around the paranormal, the occult, the supernatural and mysticism. The music embraces the world of occult horror and conjures beautiful, pensive, transcendental Gothic imagery.
The second full length album from John 3:16, released on Alrealon Musique, is called “Tempus Edax Rerum” The title translates as “Time that devours all things,” and continues the long running arcane themes. The album is broken down into five ominous parts, all the vision of Philippe Gerber with the exception of RASPLYN (Carolyn O’Neill) on Part 4.
Part 1 opens in typical, dark portent filled style. Over the space of 15 minutes Gerber builds a menacing, brooding, ambient, soundscape or soundtrack that carries the listener to far off shadowy worlds. The floating synths produce, textured layers of misty, inky darkness, over which Gerber plays deceptively simple, guitar rifts and chords that are twisted into the mix. Other almost free forming, guitar hooks provide wistful, spectral, mini melodramas. Perhaps like barely heard whispers from the Faye in half dreams or waking with a glimpse of the dream, before the memory is lost.
Part 2 (12 minutes in length) and Part 3 (9 minutes) flow together as one long story. In fact the first three songs are mixed as Side One “Mors Omnibus” and Part 4 (15 minutes) and Part 5 (6 minutes) are mixed together to form Side 2 “Mors Vincit Omnia.”
Part 4 contains the ethereal vocal talents for RASPLYN, which are entwined into the multiple layers so skillfully that I didn’t notice upon first listen, that there were vocals. Or perhaps, after all there isn’t.
That’s the delightful and exciting truth of “Tempus Edax Rerum” there’s something different, musically, each time you play the album. You are never quite sure what you’re listening to, especially if you listen with a decent pair of headphones.
“Tempus Edax Rerum” attempts to guide the listener along an invisible path, silhouetted and cowled, to an unspecified and possibly unachievable destination. It’s a wonderful, addictive journey that once taken, will have you coming back for more, again and again and again.