Month: March 2017 (Page 1 of 4)

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Cracked Amber Solid by Phil Barrington – Book Review

Author: Phil Barrington
Book title: Cracked Amber Solid {Frieze of the Faded}
Release date: 14 March 2017
Publisher: Barrington Arts

Cracked Amber Solid {Frieze of the Faded} is the third book by Phil Barrington. In this art book, we see the faded and corrupted memories and ghosts of lives once lost. Over the better part of three decades, these photographs were collected by the author. After the revelation of this project, he left these photos outside for three whole years. Over this time the photographs were often distorted beyond recognition. Those which are still perfectly clear at least have a fade and filth of antiquity.


Cracked Amber Solid is a look at life and death, through four sections: Life, Love, Sex and Death. Throughout these sections Barrington uses collages of these images as well as often disjointed text to build a greater picture of his vision. While at first this vision may seem quite disjointed, the relevance quickly presents itself. In combining these images and texts, Barrington manages to bring out emotions in the reader which can be quite surprising and unexpected.

Barrington thanks, among others, The Caretaker in the beginning of the book. I found this immediately interesting, as one who lives for music. Not sure if this was The Caretaker musical project of Leyland Kirby, I allowed it to remain an open question as I proceeded. Moving through the book, it became abundantly clear that this was the musician in question. The use of repetitions and thoughts which fragment and distort immediately reminds of a written companion to the aural style of The Caretaker.

Much like The Caretaker, Barrington lets ideas repeat and fester throughout the publication. What seems odd and out of place at the start gradually becomes a necessary key to the overarching concepts. An example of this is the recurring mention of the girl being run over by a bus. In its first mention this seems strange, but as the book progresses toward its final section of death, the connection between random events, innocent childhoods, and that innocence slowly being lost throughout the struggle of life becomes much more obvious.

In a second comparison to The Caretaker, Barrington has used collected fragments of history, which come together as a whole. In his collages of photographs and text, he paints a vivid and altogether original picture. This is quite similar to the process Leyland Kirby uses when creating his albums, by digging through the old forgotten belongings of the deceased, finding antique records to use for his modern musical project.

Though only one section of the book is specifically dedicated to love, this seems to be an overarching idea throughout. As he often illustrates, love makes life, love is sex, and love ends in death. Though this order and concept are easily mangled by the cruel ironies of life itself. The allusion to the young girl being killed by the bus brings this cruel concept to fruition. There are many other examples presented of the ways love can manipulate and often destroy lives. For instance, it is seen in the recurring use of variations of the phrase, “When distant wedding bells chime and a noose swings.” This is a morbid and depressing comparison, but one that strikes true throughout.

As a whole, Cracked Amber Solid is a depressing piece of work. One can’t help but reminiscing back to times in their own lives, or the lives of their loved ones, when parallel circumstances presented themselves. Barrington uses this mechanic masterfully. He is able to take these disjointed and seemingly random sets of photographs and text, and bring them all together to form a powerfully moving work of art. The images themselves are quite thought provoking, if often filled with extremely vivid sexual themes. Reading this book and absorbing its imagery was certainly time well spent. As a person who is often prone to boredom when reading the works of many authors, this was never the case. Barrington has certainly showcased his talents well here. This could be an easily recommended read for anyone with a darker sense of imagination and a love for unorthodox forms of art.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Barrington‘s book, Cracked Amber Solid {Frieze of the Faded}, can be purchased in two formats: as a high-resolution pdf and as an ultra-limited hardback art-edition. These can be found on Barrington Arts webstore: http://www.barringtonarts.com/my-shop/
A free low-res version can be found here: http://ow.ly/k1Yk309M8gJ

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AWARE – The Book of Wind – Review

Artist: AWARE
Album: The Book of Wind
Release date: 28 February 2017
Label: Glacial Movements

Tracklist:
01. so he got up and ate and drank
02. and travelled forty nights
03. until he reached the mountain
04. there he went into a cave
05. and spent the night
06. a powerful storm tore the mountains apart
07. but god was not in the storm
08. after the storm there was an earthquake
09. but god was not in the earthquake
10. after the earthquake came a fire
11. but god was not in the fire
12. and after the fire came a gentle whisper
13. so he pulled his cloak over his face
14. and went out

Glacial Movements is an Italian record label, known for their focus on cold, desolate and isolating releases. The new release, The Book of Wind by AWARE adds a layer of philosophy and theology to this template of frozen soundscapes. AWARE deliver one of the most relaxing and emotional releases on Glacial Movements with a grace and attention to detail that will be immediately noticeable to the listener.

The Book of Wind centers on the concept of using sound structures to invoke a sense of oneness with the godhead. This is not to be confused with ritual ambient. The sounds here are anything but that. The theory is that certain combinations of sounds, crafted just right, though probably by accident, may bring the entirety of mankind to a sense of enlightenment. There is also a philosophical concept presented here which is borrowed from the studies of Simone Weil, who believed that only downward motions were real, conversely ascension constitutes illusion. Feelings of sadness and joy are two faces of a similar structure of emotion.

The Viennese musician Alexander Glück, the man behind AWARE, uses a combination of these philosophical principles, field recordings and looped musical samples to take the listener on an inward journey. The result is a serenity of emotion. Listeners may easily fall into this music, delving deep into their inner consciousness. The sounds are certainly melancholic and introspective. The gently evolving drone-work matched with field recordings from nature display a sense of being in a small isolated cabin, deep in the wilderness, contemplating one’s own existence.

AWARE describes The Book of Wind as “a collection of essays which never reach their goal, but vanish into nothing, to which they belong.” This is a very apt description of the music. As a whole, the album consists of track names which, when read as one, convey a short poem, or piece of religious scripture. The entirety of the album indeed has an incomplete feel. This gives the listener a hunger for finding the deeper meaning, a thirst for repeat listening sessions. Each replay is able to evoke a new emotion or uncovers a new aspect of the soundscape. The entirety of the album melts into an intermingled whole, where no one track truly stands out above the rest. On the surface this seems to be some shortcoming on the part of AWARE, but in fact, it achieves its goal in simultaneously opening the mind of the listener, yet never giving them a total fulfillment or closure.

The length and ephemeral impact of the music makes for a highly enjoyable and replayable album. After dozens of play-throughs, a sense of boredom or repetition never rears its ugly head. The music stays pristine. It gives a sense of longing. Solitude. An attempt to describe any one individual track would be pointless, as the album constitutes a single entity. There is a life in the music which is undeniable. Given the sparse use of beautifully detailed field recordings, the album truly comes to life for the listener.

I would recommend The Book of Wind to any fan of ambient, dark ambient or drone music that finds contentment in staring out the window upon a lonely, rainy landscape. Anyone who finds an equal sense of beauty and melancholy in the natural world around them will be drawn into the embrace of AWARE. As usual with Glacial Movements releases, there is more than meets the eye with The Book of Wind, and one must experience it for themselves to truly understand the impact.

Written by: Michael Barnett

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Post-Apocalyptic World – Dark Ambient/Death Industrial Mix

Post-Apocalyptic World is a maelstrom of dark and decaying soundscapes. Just as the world will become, so is this mix filled with drastically changing dynamics. One moment the utter silences of dark ambient, the next a raging beast of death industrial noise. Not for the faint of heart. Put on your gas masks and enter the storm..

Playlist:
01.  0:00:00 Mulm – Leave Unseen
02. 0:04:10 Daghraven – De Tand Des Tijds
03. 0:10:00 Atrium Carceri – 200 Days
04. 0:15:00 Sun Through Eyelids – The Dead City
05. 0:20:10 Aegri Somnia – Endtime Psalms
06. 0:24:50 Fear-Modern-Man – Illuminati Revelata
07. 0:29:10 Kolhoosi 13 – Rainout
08. 0:33:30 Monocube – Drowned Sun
09. 0:37:30 Apocryphos, Kammarheit, Atrium Carceri – The Dead Fire
10. 0:43:50 Council of Nine – Ashes
11. 0:49:00 Shock Frontier – Kessler’s Syndrome
12. 0:54:30 Sophia – Nothing There, Nothing Left
13. 0:57:20 Abjection Ritual & Teeth Engraved – To Live, And Spite Them By Living
14. 1:06:35 Tertium Organum – End
15. 1:12:10 Atrium Carceri – Decrepit City
16. 1:15:35 Sielwolf & Nam-Khar – Failed States
17. 1:21:20 Gnawed – Nil But Rot
18. 1:26:30 Aderlating – The Sword Of Christ
19. 1:33:35 Steel Hook Prostheses – Piss Prophet
20. 1:39:20 Trepaneringsritualen – Judas Goat
21. 1:42:40 Theologian & Shock Frontier – Guabancex
22. 1:53:40 Hymnambulae – Syskonsalen
23. 1:58:45 Randal Collier-Ford – Decaying Sun
24. 2:06:05 Druha Smrt – Reversion To Thirteen
25. 2:18:55 Sabled Sun – A World Emptied

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AFFECTVS & Lamia Culta – Blessings from the Darkness – Review

Artist: AFFECTVS & Lamia Culta (united they form Corona Barathri)
Album: Blessings from the Darkness [Opus II] (Black Mara, Corona Barathri)
Release date: 15 April 2017
Label: Black Mara Records

Tracklist:
01. Retson Retap
02. Verbum Portae Aperio
03. In Nomine Mali
04. Nahema Sinistra
05. Luna Sacra, Luna Atra
06. Reiran Modor Lilith
07. Spirits Ov Damned
08. Sama Atar
09. Manifestatio Ahriman
10. Notammargartet
11. REQUIEM

In my recent review of Dødsmaskin I covered an historical account of witch trials in the Northern regions of Scandinavia. This time around we focus on something much more current and active. Blessings from the Darkness [Opus II] by AFFECTVSLamia Culta is the incantation of a darkened dæmoniacal form of ritual ambient. I composed this review at 3am, the witching hour, with a generous portion of my homemade blend of Aleister Croweley’s Oil of Abramelin anointing my forehead. I have fully prepared my spirit and third eye for this experience. This is the same process as I’ve done through the many times of listening to this album. It only seems right with Blessing from the Darkness to fully succumb to its malevolence. This isn’t an arbitrary darkness where you feel sensations of solitude or melancholia. This is pitch black malignancy. Luciferian. Ritualistic. All encompassing. The sense of pure evil spews from the very core of Blessing from the Darkness. The artists never allow a second of time where their offering does not seem genuine.

physical edition 1AFFECTVS Lamia Culta have both been producing music for several years. As individual artists, they both have strong occult leanings. Their solo albums have been enjoyable and noteworthy. But, in 2016 their collaborative album Homines Sacerrimi on the American dark/ritual ambient label Noctivagant Records delivered a brilliantly dark performance of epic proportions. 2017 sees the duo move to Black Mara Records of Russian origin. On Black Mara they are able to compose a fully realized work of art, from the aural presentation through the physical manifestation of their album.

Blessing from the Darkness is a demanding listen. You will not want to put this on in that background while studying or writing a book or poem. The form of ritual ambient presented herein is highly active in its delivery. Both musicians take their roles to the extreme. While this may lower the times that it is fitting to enjoy this opus, it does not take away from its high-quality and expert execution.

lamiaculta1“Verbum Portae Aperio” may be one of the crowning achievements of the album. Both artists showcase their absolute best skills, leaving behind any sense of doubt in the listener. After Lamia Culta‘s invocations at the beginning of the ritual, we are encompassed by sounds conjured from the depths of hell. Demons writhe and scream in the background. Deep bellowing voices appear as she repeats the invocation, “Satan!, Satan!, Satan!”. This intensity gently subsides as she goes from screaming Latin incantations to softly singing as the track comes to its close.

Following “Verbum Portae Aperio” we have an utterly exquisite scene. “In Nomine Mali” is much slower paced. The drones are hollow, like winds rushing through the physical edition 2depths of some ancient cavern, delivering the thick incense smoke past the nostrils before vanishing into the abyss. Following her invocation of Satan, Lamia Culta gasps and moans in ecstasy as if the dark lord has been offered her body for his enjoyment. Sacrificing herself to his will, she is fully prepared for the continuation of this diabolical rite. As the rest of Blessings from the Darkness continues, this moment hangs in my mind, never loosening its grip. The deep, rumbling, infernal growls match the euphoria of Lamia Culta, as if that fiendish lord of the underworld has truly savored his offering.

The absolute dedication to their cause is not the only reason to find praise for this hellish rite. The technical prowess of both musicians is utterly praiseworthy. Lamia Culta allows her vocal range to go from screaming, deep, guttural growls to gentle whispers, to enchantingly beautiful singing. As a listener, it’s a truly marvelous experience.

The emotion of Lamia Culta‘s vocal delivery is only part of the reason to find oneself fully encompassed by Blessing from the Darkness. AFFECTVS showcases an absolute mastery of the ritual ambient style. Comparisons to Shibalba can easily be made. But where Shibalba showcase a more conservative aspect of the ritual ambient genre, AFFECTVS takes it to utter extremes. From the howling wind field recordings, to the hypnotic drones, he builds an atmosphere that is visualized with the greatest of easy. The tribal drumming, chimes, and other ritual instrumentation adds yet another layer of authenticity to the rite.

These are two artists that were clearly born to collaborate. The combination of Lamia Culta‘s intense vocal delivery along with the thick, all-encompassing ritual ambient elements of AFFECTVS make for an experience that is not too be ignored. That is, if you will allow yourself to be witness to such a frenzied dark ritual.

special edition 3Offered on Black Mara Records, its not a surprise that the physical release will be presented with some truly unique additions. It comes with a hand-made leather “magic book” which includes the CD, pictures and art, along with a guide to meditation and a detailed description of the album. Even more, it comes with a scarf with the sigil for meditation and a pouch filled with an herbal mix they call “The Evil Smoke”. It would appear that Black Mara have truly outdone themselves on this release, going to great lengths to conjure this dark ritual from its aural realms into a physical manifestation.

For fans of ritual ambient this album will surely delight many listeners. The style is far from the usual ritual ambient. It is taken in a wholly unique direction. Dark ambient fans that don’t mind stepping outside their comfort zone should also find Blessing from the Darkness to be a highly enjoyable journey. Considering the extremes Lamia Culta takes her vocals, this album could even impress listeners completely outside the genres of ambient music. There is no doubt that as these two artists grow as musicians and become even more accustomed to working in unison, we are bound to hear their style develop even further. Though, staying on this current path would be perfectly acceptable. They seem to have found the ideal formula for the presentation of their rituals.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Frozen In Time: Weekly News 27 March 2017

With the second Frozen In Time segment on This Is Darkness there is plenty of news to keep you up to the minute on dark ambient related news over the last week. Submissions, requests, and feedback can be sent to info@thisisdarkness.com Enjoy this week’s segment!

New Releases and Pre-orders:

Theologian – Releases Remix Album Reimagining His Backdrop To The Lurking Fear from the collaboration with Cadabra Records and Andrew Leman.

AFFECTVS & Lamia Culta – Limited edition revealed.
Their upcoming album will be available with a hand-made Magic Book. Featuring a black leather cover with wooden cross outside. Inside the book will be the CD, pictures and arts, a guide to meditation and a detailed description of the album.
This limited edition also includes: a scarf with the sigil for meditation and a pouch with the herbal mix “The Evil Smoke.” Used for burning on coals. All the herbs were gathered at full moon!  “Evil smoke” includes 2 species of artemisia, juniper berries, pine buds, leaves of ash and sulfur.

Iron Cthulhu Apocalypse release a new album.
The new album by experimental dark ambient artists Iron Cthulhu Apocalypse released on 20 March 2017.

Phurpa – New album available for pre-order.
Cyclic Law has announced the new album Gyer Ro by ritual ambient masters Phurpa. About the album, Cyclic Law says, “Channeling the void with their eerie and engulfing overtone ritual chants rooted in the BON tradition of Tibet, their mesmerising rituals are used as a tool of transmogrification. The chanting meditations are accentuated by the use nga drums, rolmo cymbals, gyaling oboes, as well as telescopic dunchen horns, dunkar shells and short wandun horns. Their performances are meant as exercises in aural power, channeled primordial sounds aimed to alter ones consciousness, otherworldly prayer mantras pulsating through the chakras. This exhaustive Double album was recorded in Moscow, Russia in March 2016. Let go and touch the emptiness.

Jarl – Pre-orders now available for new album.
Reverse Alignment says about the new Jarl album, Hypnosis Colour, “Without taking as much as a short break, Jarl is returning with the new production Hypnosis Colour, mastered by fellow musician Peter Andersson (Raison D’être) and arts crafter Karolina Urbaniak.  Continuing from where Amygdala Colours – Hemisphere Rotation ended Jarl takes us on a 47 minute trip further into the psyche of the human mind.
Hypnotically coloured sounds that evolve into a mixture of acoustic and electronic sounds are to be expected. Disturbing and beautiful.” The album is set for release on 16 June 2017.

Druhá Smrt – New album released.
Sombre Soniks label says about the album, “Sombre Soniks is extremely happy to announce thee sixth release from thee excellent ritual ambient projekt from thee Czech Republic, Druhá Smrt! Druhá Smrt says, “The Way & The Virtue is a sound/magickal expression of the next step in our life-flowing process and at the same time the beginning of a new cycle, the first opus of the forthcoming ‘second trilogy’. This work was influenced by our ritual & life-flow practices with the Tao Te Ching from our own chaos/Thelema/existential magickal perspective. Thanks to Old Master Lao Tzu.”
The Way & The Virtue will be available on 23 March 2017.

Paranoia Inducta – New album released.
The artist says about their new album, From th Depths, “This is the story about loss, loneliness, despair and lack of hope. Here we have 50 minutes filled with resignation, sadness and the pain of existence. If you are too emotional or sensitive just do not reach for this album… It can cause severe depression! Maria Kuezara contributes the pictures, with graphics done by Grzegorz Pietranis. Rage In Eden Records, the well known and appreciated label, undertakes the release of this album.”
Available now at: http://rageineden.org

Shadows On The Snow – New album released.
Our Government Is Poisoning Us To Make Money is released on Petroglyph Music. Shadows On The Snow is a collaboration between ambient band from Kendall Keeler (USA) of December Nightskies and Sean Monaghan (New Zealand) of Venus Vulture. It features voices by Kendall’s beautiful wife MoonStar
Available now on archive.org.
https://archive.org/details/Petroglyph529ShadowsOnTheSnow-OurGovernmentIsPoisoningUsToMakeMoneyFeaturingMoonStar

Infinity Land Press – Teaser video for the limited edition set.
Darkleaks- the ripper genome spoken word album preview from the limited edition box set of Darkleaks – The Ripper Genome by Jeremy Reed & Martin Bladh releasing on Infinity Land Press in April 2017. Music by Karolina Urbaniak. Vocals by Jeremy Reed & Martin Bladh.


Kalpamantra
– New compilation announced.
Malignant VI by various artists is now available for pre-order on Kalpamantra net-label. Featuring artists from Malignant Records.

Shibalba – Teaser video for new album available.
Check out the teaser video for upcoming Shibalba album on Agonia Records!

Winterblood – New track from upcoming album.
new Track by Winterblood from forthcoming album: ‘Minimalismo Arcano’, soon available via Bandcamp.

Other News:

Ashtoreth – Collaborates on new project.
Readeos: Lapses is a story and ambient music collaboration between Tamara E. Williams & Ashtoreth.

Twin Peaks – Entertainment Weekly Spotlight.
Below are the links to two very informative articles and videos about the new season of Twin Peaks, which will feature 18 episodes beginning to air on Showtime on 21 May 2017.

http://welcometotwinpeaks.com/news/entertainment-weekly-twin-peaks-covers/
http://people.com/pen/00000158-44d0-d1a1-a758-4cd852110000/

Weekly Specials:

Reverse Alignment
Preparing a “Spring Cleaning” that will take place 24th March-9th April. Stay vigilant! This week you have the possibility to obtain Kahl False Evidence Appears Real for a discount of 40%.
Find the release here:
https://reversealignment.bandcamp.com/album/grader
Use code “91wolga” when checking out to obtain the discount.
Expires 31th March.

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Eighth Tower Records – Superspectrum – Review

Artist: Various Artists
Album title: Superspectrum
Release date: 17 February 2017
Label: Eighth Tower Records

Tracklist:
01. Warpness – Mørkerom
02. Sysselmann – Wasted Land
03. Alphaxone – Majestic
04. Xerxes The Dark – Oblivion
05. Heliocentrism – Breath
06. Gopota – Attitude
07. Ocadium – Manuscript
08. Damballah – L’éveil de Baron Samedi
09. Nagaarum – Az Orias Felfalja Gyermekeit
10. Sonologyst – Ceremony
11. vÄäristymä – Kvasaarit
12. Cordis Cincti Serpente – Canis Tindalos
13. Vesicatoria – Number Zero

Superspectrum is a dark ambient, experimental ambient compilation. It is the first release on Eighth Tower Records, a sub-label of Unexplained Sounds Group. Run by the man behind Sonologyst, Raffaele Pezzella, it should be no surprise that what we are presented with is an album that is as deeply dark and horrifying as it is experimental in its execution.

Superspectrum brings together a wide range of artists, some well known and others that may be wholly unfamiliar to listeners. This sort of a combination is always helpful in attracting attention to a release. Still, it has enough breadth of talent that listeners will never quite know what to expect.

The focus of Superspectrum is freak occurrences in the natural and electronic world which cannot be classified by modern standards. Eighth Tower Records describes this phenomenon as, “a shadowy world of energies that produce well-observed effects, particularly on biological organisms (namely people). The Superspectrum is the source of all paranormal manifestations from extrasensory perception (ESP) to UFO, ultra-dimensional entities and occult presences. It is hard to pin down scientifically, because it is extra-dimensional, meaning that it exists outside our own space-time continuum yet influences every thing within our reality. ”

The sounds that can be heard on Superspectrum are as broad as the subject matter. Damballah “L’eveil de Baron Samedi” for instance, displays a sound which is certainly able to be classified as dark ambient. The track has a haunting feel and is entirely grounded in field recordings. This heavy use of field recordings takes away all notion of calling it a song, leaving us with a set of atmospheres and noises which paint a brilliantly vivid picture of paranormal activity within the natural world.

Highlighting the diversity of sounds presented, we can look to the very next track, “Az Orias Felfalja Gyermekeit” by Nagaarum. This track finds its grounding in analog synthesizer equipment, giving it a highly electronic feel. We can imagine the machinery of some scientific laboratory running in an unexplainable fashion, taking on a life of its own, to the horror of the present scientists.

Sonologyst makes an appearance with his track “Ceremony”. His trademark style of alien soundscapes is certainly present in “Ceremony”, there seems to be a combination of field recordings, analog synth, and vocal manipulations which all come together to give listeners a feast of varied emotions.

The well-known Iranian dark ambient artist Alphaxone helps secure a bit of name recognition with his submission. Yet, fans of Alphaxone will find a track that is noticeably different from much of his recent dark ambient work on Cryo Chamber. “Majestic” takes a bolder approach to dark ambient, with more sounds that jump out to the forefront. These elements give “Majestic” an experimental feel, and seem to work out very well within his skill set.

Gopota delivers one of the most unique tracks on Superspectrum with “Attitude”. True to the Gopota style, we hear often harsh and experimental noises grounded in the foundations of a dark ambient track. The combinations of these styles gives “Attitude” its unique flavor and fit together very well, producing a track which is well rounded yet simultaneously unusual. This track is also one of the most horrifying on Superspectrum, which should be no surprise to fans of this master of the macabre.

As a whole, Superspectrum is a varied, wide-reaching endeavor. The songs presented take more than their fair share of experimental composure. This could be a death sentence for some compilations but helmed by Sonologyst, the tracks all work together quite well. The blending of natural, mechanical, and electronic sounds easily brings to mind the pictures of phenomenal occurrences rooted with occult or extra-terrestrial origins.

Superspectrum should be just what Eighth Tower Records needs to jump-start their venture, while giving listeners an idea of the thematic and experimental releases which are to come in its future. I would recommend Superspectrum to fans of ambient works which are on the experimental side. There is plenty of unorthodox thinking here. Fans of more traditional forms of dark ambient may also enjoy this album as a gateway to the more experimental output of its collaborators. With a solid debut, it should be interesting to see where Eighth Tower Records takes us in the coming months. The direction will almost certainly be one which is as unusual as it is professional.

Written by: Michael Barnett


Dødsmaskin – Fullstendig Brent – Review

Artist: Dødsmaskin
Album title: Fullstendig Brent
Release date: March 24 2017
Label: Malignant Records

Tracklist:
01. Båldom (Fire Verdict)
02. Heksetimen (The Witching Hour)
03. Christoffer Orning
04. De Ti – 1621 (The Ten – 1621)
05. Dømt På Sitt Liv Til Ild Og Bål (Sentenced to Death by Flame and Pyre)


Dødsmaskin
, meaning “death machine” in English, is a Norwegian post-industrial / drone act by Peter Vindel and Kjetil Ottersen. They self-released a digital album in 2015 entitled, Ingenting (“nothing” in English). On that debut they showed a lot of promise and a general sense of talent in the noisier side of drone music. But their physical debut on Malignant Records, Fullstendig Brent (Completely Burnt; Holocaust) takes them into some amazingly complex territory. This is one of those rare gems in which utterly chaotic noises are able to mingle perfectly with the serenity of dark ambient. This album could fit into many categories, post-industrial, drone, dark ambient, death industrial, power electronics. Indeed, there is a bit of all these genres presented here.

dodsmaskin_biopicThis album will be particularly pleasing to anyone with a love for the darkest days of history. The inner panel of the digipak consists of one sentence, “Djevelhorer Skal Brennes – Martin Luther (1537)” This can be translated to English as “devil whores be burned.” It is a fitting preparation for the onslaught of soundscapes presented within. Fullstendig Brent takes us on a deeply cinematic journey back in time to the 17th century in the northern parts of Norway, specifically to the fortress of Vardøhus in Vardø, the center of Norwegian Finnmark. This fortress would play the stage to a particularly dark and brutal period of history. We are taken here at a time when witch trials were being carried out around the western world. Each track on Fullstendig Brent gives us a glimpse into various times during these proceedings.

“Båldom” stands as an introduction to these nightmares. It is translated to English as “Verdict of Fire”, an allusion to the preferred method of dispensing of witches once their guilt was proven. “Båldom” is a perfect example of what to expect from Fullstendig Brent. The track starts with the sounds of a raging fire. A beautiful, if melancholic, loop of drone-work takes the forefront. It truly sounds majestic in its sense of foreboding. After this goes on for a short period of time we are cast into the fires, where our sins may be purged, before the eyes of the faithful. It is a descent into a truly cacophonous noise. Yet, with the brilliant talents akin to Jarl or Steel Hook Prostheses, these sounds never lose their focus. It is a perfect execution of brilliant noises.

dodsmaskin_historie der martelarenThe cinematic edge is taken to an even more obvious place on “Christoffer Orning”, named after a notorious district governor responsible for the majority of deaths of innocent women and children. The track starts out with prayers being begged in unison by the demented congregation. After they give their blessings, the witches are allowed to burn for their sins. As the beating industrial noises completely overtake our senses, it’s easy to imagine these so-called witches perishing in the most horrible way imaginable. Their body slowly roasting on the pyre, they shriek in utter despair soon followed by the sobbing of this unlucky female victim, attempting to alleviate some of the pain as she begins to smell her flesh being cooked, long before losing consciousness or dying.

Each track on the album goes through these ups and downs of subtle preparation followed by industrially induced terror. The true beauty of the music is that at no point do the sounds become overwhelming. They perfectly play their role, dragging the listener so close to the action that they will undoubtedly have their minds filled with the images of these brutal acts of Christian fanaticism. Part of the praise for this feat should be given to the mastering talents of Rafael Anton Irisarri working his magic from the Black Knoll Studio in New York. Equal thanks can be given to the brilliant artwork of Sense:Versus on the digipak. The front cover adorned in a minimalistic fashion with the Dødsmaskin logo, set behind a single leap of flames. The digipak is textured, with a rustic border, giving it the impression of an old worn leather book, possibly even bound in human flesh.

Dødsmaskin clearly paid the utmost attention to detail on Fullstendig Brent, which is undeniably present throughout the entirety of the album. There is never a moment wasted, each second holds our attention with its simultaneous beauty and ugliness. I would especially recommend this album to fans of cinematic dark ambient who also enjoy some noisier genres like death industrial or power electronics. Yet, there is really no reason to warn off others. This album is a miraculously well prepared example of how music can go above and beyond genre labels. While it may be significantly harsher than many listeners are used to, it should be a welcome novelty, a way to truly appreciate what is behind the thoughts of many musicians of the post-industrial scene. Many of them could surely learn a thing or two from Dødsmaskin.

Written by: Michael Barnett


Aegri Somnia – Interview

Interview with: Jurica Santek of Aegri Somnia
Conducted by: Michael Barnett

Aegri Somnia are a powerhouse in the dark ambient scene. Over the recent years their last two releases have become much lauded pieces of the dark ambient history. Loved by most who have heard their music, Aegri Somnia still manages to have a small cult following. This latest album, Endtime Psalms, may be the push needed to gain more widespread recognition. After being blown away by this release, I was eager to get in contact with Mr. Santek and pick his brain about some of the concepts behind the album as well as some of his personal views on some more widespread matters. I hope you will all enjoy the interview and learn a little something new about Aegri Somnia in the process!



Michael: Thank you for taking your time to answer some questions, Jurica. Your new release on Cryo Chamber, Endtime Psalms, takes on a sound which is a bit fuller, with a more active drone element. Is this something you consciously did for this album, or is it just the evolution of the artist?

Jurica: The new album is more direct and structured, it’s based mainly on pads and field recordings. It’s less experimental and has no ritual elements. Endtime Psalms is more like an ambient album. Monde Obscure is a more cinematic/soundtrack/game/experimental album. This is the direction that I will lead Aegri Somnia in the future.

Michael: Do you see Endtime Psalms as a collection of individual tracks, or is there an overarching story to the album?

aegri somnia digipakJurica: There is story to the album. The album is mainly inspired by antinatalism/pessimism/depressive realism. Also I used Christian rhetoric for the title description, as i found it perfectly describes the world today.

Michael: If there is a story being told on Endtime Psalms, is it connected to Monde Obscure?

Jurica: Monde Obscure is about escape in various forms. Endtime Psalms is watching this world from a neutral/objective atheistic perspective and figuring out philosophical principles that this game of evolution has no meaning, purpose or direction. It’s all just complex random chemistry.

Michael: With the way the world is moving these days, its hard to tell what our future will hold. Do you think the apocalypse is coming? If so, how do you think it will happen?

Jurica: I think humanity had potential… I dont believe in humanity anymore. I think we will destroy ourselves in the end. I think that will happen soon. The problem is human nature and bio/political/religious programing.

cahr ligottiMichael: Would you mind telling us what C.A.H.R. stands for in the first track of Endtime Psalms?

Jurica: C.A.H.R. is Conspiracy. Against. Human. Race. by Thomas Ligotti. The whole album is inspired by this book.

Michael: Do you remember your first experience with dark ambient music? Have you been a fan for many years?

Jurica: My first experience was when I first got into Silent Hill 1 on Playstation. The atmosphere on that game was something that fascinated me so much that I searched for its soundtrack and then I found the guy named Akira Yamaoka. That time for me was very special. Then, after some time, I discovered that a whole scene exists.I found labels and artists and slowly I got into this world. Then slowly I started to make my way productions and eventually started my first projects.

Michael: Do you have any other music projects, outside of Aegri Somnia?

Jurica: Tertium Organum ,Efil, and Esoteric Terrorist. I used to be very active in many bands, hardcore and metal. But not anymore. I also play guitar for myself.

Michael: How has your home-country affected your music?

Jurica: The situation in Croatia is not pretty. I think it affects everyone, I see all of Europe in the same way. I think we are heading to dark times.

Michael: Are there any ancient civilizations or old-world religions in which you are very interested?

Jurica: I studied history and alternative history for some time. I found Aztec civilization pretty fascinating. But, most fascinating is Ancient Greece as they are the cradle of Western civilization.

Michael: Do you have any favorite equipment in your studio-space, something vital which you couldn’t live without?

Jurica: I have very small setup, it’s minimal and clean. I love it as it is.

17453345_1292934887460839_286472691_oMichael: Aegri Somnia is obviously dark music. But, there seems to be something particularly dark about yours. Do you have interest in occult books, old religions, or some other activity or subject which influences your music?

Jurica: I had interest in the Left Hand Path and Esoteric practices such as The Fourth Way and Advaita. Now I’m just a skeptic, a free thinker, but I found that practices such as The Fourth Way are very useful as mental filters.

Michael: Have you ever performed a concert as Aegri Somnia? Is this something you find important for dark ambient artists?

Jurica: I’ve never performed live. I don’t think it’s important to perform as a dark ambient artist.

Michael: Thank you very much for your time, Jurica. I’ll leave the last words to you.

Jurica: Thank you Michael for your interest. More music to come soon.

Links: Aegri Somnia Facebook, Cryo Chamber profile

Northumbria – Markland (2017) – Review

Artist: Northumbria
Album title: Markland
Release date: 21 March 2017
Label: Cryo Chamber

Tracklist:
01. Torngat
02. Sunstone
03. The Night Wolves/Black Moon
04. Ostara’s Return
05. Still Clearing
06. Low Sun I
07. The Shores of the Suffering Wind
08. Low Sun II
09. Wonderstrands
10. The Stars As My Guide

Northumbria are a dark ambient act. While this is true, the label barely begins to cover the depth of their sounds. Their accomplishments over the last few years have been great. They’ve attracted the attention of their current label, Cryo Chamber, which is no small feat. They’ve been featured on some high quality compilations, with their tracks usually standing out as some of the best on the respective tracklists. With that said, 2017 is the year of Northumbria.

Northumbria consists of two musicians. In effect, a guitarist, Jim Field, and a bassist, Dorian Williamson. Northumbria have taken a sort of tour through various record labels since their inception. Releasing several full length albums as well as EPs and splits through labels such as: thisquietarmy Records, Consouling Sounds, Polar Seas Recordings, and finally landing at Cryo Chamber, where they appear to be content with calling their home.

Northumbria - Helluland - Northumbria - HellulandminimeWhat started several years ago as a project fully dedicated to the use of guitar and bass drones, has blossomed this year into something wholly new and exciting. As recently as 2014, albums like Bring Down The Sky highlighted the more conventional skills of Northumbria, with marvelous slowly evolving guitar work that could almost be considered solos. These meandering guitars were planted firmly upon a guttural and earth-shaking bass drone. Helluland, their first release on Cryo Chamber, brought them to a new chapter in their lives. Helluland still was dedicated to consistently drone-laden guitar and bass work but it had taken on a more subtle feel. Along with the evolution of their sound, Helluland ushered in the first chapter of their current trilogy. A set of albums which is dedicated to the story of the ancient Norsemen discovering the Americas, incidentally, well before Christopher Columbus.

Shifting to the present day, Markland delivers something totally novel to Northumbria. This album has stepped up their production quality in every conceivable way. Markland still holds the foundations of their trademark sound, but it greatly expands beyond these foundations. Tracks like “Sunstone” look reverently back to the roots of their project. “Sunstone” has a subtle bass foundation with the same sort of guitar-work that made much older tracks like “The Ocean Calls Us Home”, from Bring Down The Sky, so successful. Even, at times, this track has shown some similarities to the magnum opus by Northaunt, Horizons. Yet tracks like “Sunstone” only show half the picture.

The very next track, “The Night Wolves/Black Moon” begins with the howling of wolves. My heart jumped hearing this intro, There have been so many attempts in dark ambient and dungeon synth albums to incorporate howling wolves, and each attempt seems to fall flat. The wolves, instead of evoking the mysteries of the night in a wild land, show the lack of care taken in capturing their sounds and incorporating them into an album. Most attempts have been downright laughable. Yet, Northumbria have managed to use these field recordings in a superbly appropriate fashion. They give that sense of sitting around a campfire, deep in the woodland wilderness of Markland, presently Northeastern Canada. As the eleven minute track progresses we are delighted in the sounds of the guitar drones, washing over the subtle foundations set by the bass. Yet, just as we become comfortable in this setting, a storm arises, thunder rumbles through the skies. Meanwhile, the guitar work is becoming more ominous, taking our minds into a much darker place. By the end of the track, the bass has taken the prominent position, and with it the sense of danger and dread rise menacingly to the surface.

northumbria biopicMarkland clearly has a tale to tell. This is blatantly obvious without ever reading into the back-story. Just putting on headphones and pressing play, we catapult into a dark and wild world. From the very beginning of “Torngat” we can hear the waves beating against the ship as it nears land. By the time we reach “The Night Wolves/Black Moon” the turn of events is perfectly delivered. This description of the album barely scratches the surface, tracks like “Still Clearing” and “The Shores of the Suffering Wind” boast what is easily the best work by Northumbria to date. In short the album is a masterpiece.

Clearly there was care and caution taken by these two veteran musicians in every step of the production. Add to that the brilliant mastering skills of Simon Heath and some perfectly emotive album art (which I would consider one of the best covers to date on Cryo Chamber). The recipe makes for a classic. An album which will almost certainly become the high-point in the career of these two musicians. They definitely stepped outside their comfort zone on Markland, delving into techniques and atmospheres that they had not previously traversed. The final result is next to perfection. I would recommend Markland to any dark ambient fan. I would consider this a perfect entry point for black metal, dungeon synth, and post-rock fans as well. Every moment of Markland is steeped in a glorious sense of accomplishment. These two gentlemen should surely be proud of their work. We can only hope that they will equal this brilliance in the future.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Frozen In Time: Weekly News 20-3-17

This is the first installment of Frozen In Time: Weekly News! This section will have a weekly update on all things related to dark ambient and anything else deemed relevant to dark ambient listeners. If you have some news to share, please get in touch at info@thisisdarkness.com For all the readers, any feedback would be very helpful and could potentially help to change the site for the better. Thanks! Enjoy!

Concert Coverage
The Phobos Festival recently took place. Phobos is an annual festival coordinated by Martin Stürtzer of Phelios and Sphäre SechsAll this year’s performances have been captured on video in their entirety. Check them out:

S.E.T.I.

Cities Last Broadcast 

Treha Sektori

Cent Ans De Solitude Live at Phobos 

New Releases and Pre-orders

AFFECTVSLamia Culta – Teaser for new album released.
Preorders for Blessing From The Darkness [Opus 2] will begin on March 21st.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CZ4w-eS70s

Anemone Tube – Pre-orders have begun for the new album.

In The Vortex of Dionysian Reality will  be the first release on March 25th from the new label Blossoming FernBlossoming Fern says about the album, “Related to Nietzsche`s notion of the Wagnerian music drama as a revelation of the abysmal truth about man, In the Vortex of Dionysian Reality allures us into the Dionysian dreamland, where tragedy reigns, in pursuit of the ultimate oneness. With its washes of noise and layers of piercing feedback on a sub-base of wavering synths, it is a maelstrom of sound generating a hallucinatory reality. The atmosphere oscillates between destructiveness and aggravating frenzy, between the archaic and the sacral, between frenzied passion and abyssal melancholy, serving the mythical experience of music in a world where language has failed as a method of communication and music figures as the primordial form of expression.

As he considers humanities to have reached their limit, young Nietzsche hopes to find ultimate spiritualization and idealization in the reborn myth. Music alone (“our German masters”), as the primeval form of poetry and revelation of true Dionysian wisdom, may achieve triumph over the Apollonian shallow world of apparition.
With his timely musical rendition of mythical experience as In the Vortex of Dionysian Reality, Anemone Tube conveys an emotionally and mentally charged album which reveals his soft spot for progressive post rock metal acts like Amusement Parks On Fire, Blut Aus Nord or O.L.D. Their special approach of dreamy melodies vs. atonal, discordant sounds is skillfully recreated through polyphonic synths lines, which are then modulated into feedback and added for good measure.

Carrying the same title as the 2015 cassette EP release on The Epicurean, this CD with its 40+ minutes total length and five all new, yet unreleased tracks is less a mere re-release, but rather a full stand-alone album, featuring Ukrainian dark ambient artist Monocube on one track, as well as including sounds by Russian avantgardists Post Scriptvm and sound processing by French sound artist Pacific 231. ”

Dødsmaskin – new album available for pre-order.

The debut album is set for release on March 24th. Malignant Records says about the release, “The physical debut for Norway’s Dødsmaskin, Fullstendig Brent («completely burnt»; «holocaust») is a meticulously crafted effort that presents to the listener a sonic interpretation of one of the darkest chapters in Norwegian history, namely the witch trials that took place in the country’s northernmost regions during the 17th century. Assembled constructs that incorporate field recordings, drones, atonal melodies and clusters of distortion and searing noise, Dødsmaskin transcends all genre classification, pushing boundaries while deftly navigating through a spectrum of post-industrial soundscapes. Tracks can and often start quietly and introspectively, then build to explosive climaxes of unbridled tension and razor sharp intensity, with dense pneumatic blasts intersecting with caustic frequencies and mechanized throb. It’s that kind of unpredictability, attention to detail, and forward-thinking craftsmanship that’ll have you thinking Kevin Drumm one minute, and STROM.ec or Propergol the next, and what makes Dødsmaskin such a vital new entry to the Malignant roster. Mastered by Rafael Anton Irisarri of Black Knoll Studio, N.Y.

Northumbria – pre-orders are available for the new album. 

Releasing on Cryo Chamber on March 21st, they say about the album, “Markland is the second album in Northumbria’s trilogy inspired by the Norse discovery of Canada.

As you set foot in Markland, the salty mist of the ocean gives way, swirling around your heavy boots as they crunch on the rocks. Unexplored land left untouched. The wind screams around the mountaintops and something echoes in the distance. You make your way across the steep mountain pass, your eyes water as the weather turns harsher with each step. From atop the cliffs you kneel in awe at the primordial alien landscape stretching on and on. Your trembling hand covers the yellow hazy sun as you spot wild shadows dancing in the dark forest below. A sickly thunderous roar builds from deep within the earth turning day into night, what is this place?

Using only guitar and bass, and recording their improvised compositions live, Jim Field and Dorian Williamson create a deep textured sound world. Evoking the ancient wonder that the Norse explorers must have felt discovering Markland, the land of the Forests. ”

Sadistic Cult releases new album.

LVC1F3R is a dark and gritty album which crosses the lines between dark ambient, ritual ambient, and death industrial.

Sombre Soniks – releases new compilation.

Sombre Soniks says about the release, “Thirteenth in thee series of bi-annual kompilations presenting 23 Dark Ambient kompositions, now entering its seventh year! This time thee participants were asked to kreate something that was thirteen minutes long and featured ‘thirteen’ within thee title of thee komposition…  Also inkluded are thee 23 info kards with individual bakground art kreated by P23, using manipulations of a photo of a Willow tree (a symbol of rebirth & renewal), and kover artwork by Fabian van der Meer!”

Unexplained Sounds Group – sub-label Eighth Tower Records releases The Great Architect.

About the album, Eighth Tower Records says, “Gnostic tradition boils down to the notion of a God creator as a malicious being, an evil Demiurge responsible for the creation of existence. It follows that all material existence is evil, and this accounts for the anticosmism in Gnosticism. According to a number of Gnostic traditions, and later in Manichean theology, an extra-worldly supreme deity existed above the inferior creator God. Much like Plato’s Demiurge in the Timaeus, the creator did not create matter ex nihilo, out of nothing, because matter was already present. The Demiurge merely re-formed it to his purposes, and imprisoned souls from the higher planes of reality in the corporeal forms of human beings.

Valanx – Pre-orders now available for new album.

Valanx is Arne Weinberg’s main project and makes its debut on Cromlech Records with this 40 minute tape release. Radiant Orbs of Abzu consists of two 20 minute pieces of abstract experimentalism, drone constructs and dark ambient atmospheres. Both tracks are intertwined and form one long complete composition that is best experienced in one listening session. The two segments have been created as a sonic adulation to Absu, the Sumerian god of fresh water of the world. Absu (or Abzu) is also a reference to the primeval sea below the void space of the underworld and the earth above.
Available April 10th as a limited tape release (incl. digital download) and digital release.

Other News

Father Dagon – Trailer released for the Lovecraft inspired serial fiction podcast.
You can listen on YouTube, SoundCloud, or Libsyn. Search for Father Dagon or Dread Falls Theatre. The full episodes come out every other Monday from April 3rd.

Weekly Specials

Deep Audio – Weekly Special
Herbst9 Usumgal Kalamma 2CD Box
http://www.deep-audio.de

Reverse Alignments – Weekly Special
This week you have the possibility to obtain Skare Grader digital edition for a discount of 40%. Find the release here:
https://reversealignment.bandcamp.com/album/grader
Use code “gbgfly76” when checking out to obtain the discount.
Expires 24th March.

Donations

Please consider making a donation!
This site has gone live with the help of friends and supporters. I have been disabled since 2015, due to a spinal injury. Any support that can be given is greatly appreciated. Donations will go toward the maintenance of this site as well as additional promotion to increase its reach and influence.


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