Thomas Köner has been tirelessly exploring polar horizons all through his career, but for his first album in the past three years, he’s forfeiting the romantic illusions of an immaculate whiteness in favour of a soiled and wounded world of ice. Novaya Zemlya doesn’t lead us to the poles of nineteenth-century adventurers, but to the pole of the Cold War. By choosing to focus on the history of Novaya Zemlya, the island which is the northernmost point of Europe, Köner tackles it head on: a heavy history, with forced population movements and countless nuclear tests -- including the explosion of the biggest atomic bomb ever detonated, the Tsar Bomba, one hundred megatons that the Russians released in Novaya Zemlya in 1961. During the twentieth century, the island was the witness of the detonation of more than one hundred times the amount of explosives used during WW2, and its landscape was deeply changed following the avalanches and earthquakes that consequently took place. With such a backdrop, it’s no wonder that Novaya Zemlya is the darkest and most desolate album by Thomas Köner so far. Ashen winds endlessly blow over gloomy and arid lands, muffled explosions can be heard in the distance, interference from dead radio waves and isolated voices emerge from the void and fly over mad geiger measurements: it’s a post-apocalyptic and yet realistic world that Köner describes in this record through three long tracks in which the details can be found hidden behind a dirty grey texture. Indeed, the apocalypse has already taken place on Novaya Zemlya, but it was only trivially human and the superbly-written record leaves you with a bitter aftertaste because Thomas Köner, without a trace of lyricism, pinpoints with cold accuracy one of the most grievous ecological disasters that the arctic regions have ever known.