Month: July 2017 (Page 1 of 2)

Cadabra Records – No Ordinary Fairy by Roland Topor

Artists:
Laurence R. Harvey (Spoken Word)
Theologian (Soundscapes)
Roland Topor (Artwork)
Album: No Ordinary Fairy by Roland Topor
Release date: 13 February 2017
Label: Cadabra Records

Side A: No Ordinary Fairy
Side B: Laying the Queen

We likely live in one of the greatest times throughout history, if only for dreamers. We have instantaneous access to the works of artists, great and small, which span literally thousands of years. An attempt to absorb even 1/4 of the “must experience” artists throughout history becomes nearly impossible, even for someone with nothing but time. My first encounter with Cadabra Records came in the form of H.P. Lovecraft’s Pickman’s Model. I made the discovery thanks to a night of browsing the Theologian discography. Since that portentous first encounter I have fallen madly in love with the works of Cadabra Records. Not only because of their well-above average physical productions (Pickman’s Model remains the most physically impressive vinyl release I’ve ever seen), but because of their choices in material to cover.

My first new discovery by way of Cadabra Records was Clark Ashton Smith, on their release of The Muse of Hyperborea, read by S.T. Joshi, the leading scholar on Lovecraft, and the music again performed by Theologian. A name that often cropped up in my reading of Lovecraft’s biographical coverage, I hadn’t actually delved into his works. Though, once introduced, I’ve been rabidly consuming all his poetry and weird fiction that I can manage.

Roland Topor is yet another name that I had only encountered in passing. Though I quickly found out that he was responsible for the novel, The Tenant, which would, a decade later, be brought to the big-screen by Roman Polanski, one of my very favorite film directors. Roland Topor was one of the leading visionaries of the mid-20th century. He, alongside others such as Alejandro Jodorowsky and Fernando Arrabal, worked within a version of surrealism that aimed to retake the movement from the mainstream, watered-down version that it had become on account of its increasing popularity and exposure. Topor’s works are dark, shocking, often crude.

The No Ordinary Fairy LP brings out a slightly different side of Topor than many would guess. The vinyl contains two short stories: No Ordinary Fairy and Laying the Queen. They complement one another perfectly in their dark humor and crude nature. No Ordinary Fairy is a tale of an encounter with a real-life fairy, three wishes and all, going sour. Laying the Queen, true to its title, documents the journey of one deranged fellow with the solitary goal in his existence of having sex with a queen, any queen. In both these tales absurdity is pushed to the max making for quite a hilarious scenario. But there is still a dark shadow looming over each of these tales, especially No Ordinary Fairy, a tale which takes place directly following a bout of horrific domestic abuse.

Theologian, at this point one of the top contributors to the Cadabra Records soundscapes, again delivers top quality dark ambient music to complement the story as well as its diction by Laurence R. Harvey. We move from broodingly dark moments through more whimsical sections of sounds. From claustrophobic frenzy into vast vistas of solemnity. Theologian takes a grasp on the story content and always manages to heighten the appropriate emotions as the story moves among them. It is no wonder that Cadabra Records keeps returning to him as the musician for so many of its projects.

Actor Laurence R. Harvey makes his first appearance on a Cadabra Records release with the No Ordinary Fairy LP. Harvey is best known for his parts in The Human Centipede II and III, as well as The Editor and Rats, among others. His performance here is, like Theologian‘s, a perfect fit for this release. His vocal diction is creepy, to say the least. Not in a horror sense, but in a “maybe I’ll sit on the other side of the bus” sense. He takes the concepts behind these absurdly dark comical stories to brilliant new heights with his various inflections. In particular, toward the end of Laying the Queen, his performance of the narrative is stunningly appropriate to the story.

Cadabra Records pride themselves on the physical manifestations of these releases just as much as the aural content. No Ordinary Fairy does not break from this tradition. The cover-art is the work of Roland Topor himself. The 150 gram opaque purple vinyl comes in a deluxe tip-on jacket with liner notes by Heidi Lovejoy, giving us a bit of history of Topor’s legacy. The packaging is sturdy and attention to detail is paramount. The vinyl is in the 30 cm 45 rpm format.

If you are a fan of Topor’s works, enjoy the music of Theologian, or just love to collect unique and high-quality vinyl releases, the No Ordinary Fairy LP should be right up your alley. Cadabra Records have quickly solidified themselves in the vanguard of the spoken arts. I really can’t recommend the works of this label enough, and No Ordinary Fairy is a perfectly suitable place to start.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Worms of the Earth – Interview

Dan Barrett is the man behind Worms of the Earth. Over the last few years he has covered a lot of different ground with his musical project Worms of the Earth. While dark ambient has always been close to his heart and a staple of his music, he’s never afraid to blend and even traverse into new territory and different genres. He told me that he had a sale going on, 40% off his last two full length albums, Sitra Achra and Azal’ucel. He set this sale in motion as a nod to his previous accomplishments, but also as a notification of the rebirth of Worms of the Earth. Curious about the changes in store, and wanting to let readers know about these two excellent albums, I decided to interview Dan. You should really get to know a lot about Dan’s background as a musician, and the level of seriousness and spiritual energy he has put into the project over the years. So let’s get into the interview!

Interview with: Dan Barrett
Conducted by: Michael Barnett

Michael: How long has Worms of the Earth been an active project?

Dan: I had been messing around with writing electronic music for a few years, but I didn’t take it seriously until about 2007. That was when I first distributed a demo to other people & started playing live and it dawned on me that “hey, maybe I should pursue this as a serious hobby”.

Michael: During this initial phase were you using the same sorts of programs and instruments to write your music, or has this evolved as new technology and hardware have become available over the years?

Dan: I think I took the opposite path of most bands. A lot of guys working in similar genres started entirely with hardware and then moved towards more software because it’s easier and cheaper, whereas I started with all cheap software and as I got more into writing music bought hardware. In the early stages of Worms  of the Earth it was all the garbage you’d expect: Fruity Loops 3 or 4, Vanguard, Vengeance sample packs, and whatever other hot pirated VSTs of the time. But I’ve always felt like hardware sounds better; it just has more character or soul or whatever you want to call it. A good filter just can’t yet be replicated in software. So anyway, I’m using a combination of hardware and software now but it’s all totally different than in the beginning. For hardware I’m relying heavily on the Nord Lead 2, Virus rack, and Virus TI for my synth needs and the Roland JV2080 + expansion cards and Korg Trinity for rompler stuff: strings, pads, ethnic instruments. For software I’ve been getting into LuSH-101 and Superwave Ultimate (something of a JP8080 clone) and I use EastWest VSTs a lot. I have more gear but those are my favorite tools. I’ll probably sell the Virus TI Snow soon and buy a couple of the new analog synths – an enormous amount of cool shit has come out recently.

Michael: Your music as Worms of the Earth has always had a bit of variety and didn’t necessarily fit into specific genre categories. I’ll be referring to it in this interview as a dark ambient project, but I’m aware the sounds often move outside that genre. Up until this point, how would you describe your sound as Worms of the Earth?

Dan: I’m a fan of many different types of music so it’s been difficult for me to stick to one particular sound. I also find that as a producer it greatly bolsters your abilities and keeps your creativity flowing to write different styles of music. And frankly, it’s just boring to write the same thing and the same sounds over and over. That said, I eventually settled on “ethno industrial & ritual ambient” to describe Worms of the Earth.
My albums run the gamut from industrial to power noise to tribal to dark ambient, but behind that there are consistent currents that run through all the releases. At it’s core I am trying to make interesting, spiritually potent music that combines all the things I like about different genres.

Michael: As I’m not particularly familiar with some of these other genres, and maybe some readers aren’t either, would you please explain how the “ethno” part works within the context of your sounds?

Dan: Ethno = tribal/ethnic/world sounds. Basically just infusing ethnic melodies/instruments and percussion into my stuff. It’s mainly been used as accents thus far, although songs like “18 Hands Of Cundi” have that stuff as a focal point.

Michael: How long have you been interested in dark ambient music?

Dan: To be honest I’m not really sure when, specifically, I discovered dark ambient. I remember in high school discovering industrial and IDM which somehow led to finding and being captivated by songs like Coil’s “Dark River”. Then at some point later – I don’t remember where it came from, but I just had In Slaughter Natives and Desiderii Marginis on my hard drive. I’ve always been drawn to atmosphere in music – in fact I think that is the most important characteristic. So I think getting into dark ambient was inevitable. It also helped that, for whatever reason, the power noise genre of the late 90s, early 00s was closely linked to dark ambient – labels like Ant Zen and producers like Iszoloscope and Ah Cama-Sotz were instrumental in fostering my love of the genre. I’ve got to give credit to Miguel from Connexion Bizarre as well; I was writing reviews for him years ago and he kept pushing the dark ambient stuff on me because no one else was covering it, haha. That exposed me to great labels like Cyclic Law and Malignant. Additionally, my girlfriend of many years (who I met through Connexion Bizarre oddly enough) is also a big fan of dark ambient and that was a major point of bonding between us. So she filled in the gaps of some of the stuff I had been missing out on, introduced me to Fred from Cyclic Law, and so forth.

Michael: Which artists have had the most influence on you before and during your career as a musician?

Dan: There have been a lot; like I mentioned I listen to a lot of different stuff. But I think Iszoloscope, Ah Cama-Sotz, and This Morn Omina probably had the biggest effect on me – guys that were mixing together all the styles that I loved (industrial/power noise, dark ambient, and tribal – with an occult slant).

Michael: Since you mention the occult slant on these genres here, what does the occult mean to you on a personal level? Do you consider it a point of interest or does it permeate your being with its religious components?

Dan: Hidden knowledge, wisdom. Magic. Basically the knowledge of our connection to and place within the universe, which has been lost over the ages. And the knowledge of how to be free from negative bindings, seen and unseen. When you’re a practicing magician (for lack of a less cheesy term), and you’ve achieved a level of awareness then you live magic. I can’t really explain it better than that. It’s not so much permeating my being as becoming aware of something that’s already there.

Michael: What territory do you expect future Worms of the Earth albums will move into?

Dan: The new stuff I’m working on is predominately Goa/Psytrance, and I’m utilizing the tribal components even more. It’s not a total departure from past work however, there are still industrial and ambient elements. This may seem strange, but in the context of Worms of the Earth thematically it makes complete sense. Azal’ucel was the first true magical album I did – the call to the higher self, opening the gateway to connect with it. That was successful and Azal’ucel was the most well received of any Worms of the Earth album, despite being a huge departure from previous material. That awakening made me realize that I was being held back by something; creatively and mentally blocked. So, to address that I worked on Sitra Achra in which I explored the darkness and chaos of my own psyche, plunging into qliphothic realms. This was the most difficult and destructive album, but it illuminated to me the darkness of this world, so to speak, and I was able to understand how truly consumed by and mired in this darkness I was. So after descending into the depths and, metaphysically, destroying myself (and the project along with it, since it is ultimately an aural projection of myself) I kind of thought Worms of the Earth was over; but later I realized that this breaking down was essential to truly move beyond the darkness that was inhibiting me. After that I did The Nightside Of Creation EP, which was the end of my working with the qliphoth and moving beyond it. It didn’t fully make sense to me at the time, but when looking back it makes complete sense in the context of my spiritual progression. I was leaving the blackness and emerged into this “desert” – solar magic, the scorching heat of desert air (air & fire; the return of intellect and will) and the sturdiness of earth, etc. After doing the destructive rituals via Sitra Achra I was looking to ascend from the darkness of nigredo and this journey set me looking for a true source of magic, which naturally led me to old kingdom Egypt which is regarded as the last truly magical society (again: desert, solar energy, etc). So the new WotE material is about the rebirth of myself and, by extension, this project. I’m writing about the Am-Tuat which in Egyptian mythology chronicles the sun god Ra’s journey each night into Amenta (the hidden place) after the sun sets. Here he sails his boat (Sektet) through 12 realms during “the 12 hours of night”, eventually being reborn as the sun (Ra in his Khepera form) when it rises the next day.
Musically speaking, this new material marks a progression in many elements of the music. My goal since the emergence of WotE was to write really complex, meaningful, and potent dance music, and I feel that psytrance is a style where I can accomplish that. In a lot of ways I feel like goa/psy is the last bastion of complex, intelligent dance music. I love that this is a genre where it’s not only acceptable but essential to write long songs with lengthy intros, breakdowns, layer upon layer of melody, and spiritual elements & themes. Additionally, I feel like the standards for production and sound design are high, so it pushed me to work hard in order to improve my own knowledge of synthesis and sound design. I’m really excited about the new material, I think it’s quite different from what people are making and I hope that this new combination of sounds will resonant with others in the way it does with me.

Michael: You mention that Azal’ucel was your first true magical album. Do you consider the writing, performing and/or listening of this album to be part of a religious experience for you and/or your listeners?

Dan: Spiritual experience, yes. I wouldn’t say religious, to be succinct: religion is bullshit. But yeah, the process of creating Azal’ucel was definitely something profound. For me first and foremost of course, because it involved rituals I did for my own development so it’s going to connect with me in a specific way. But it’s a magical work that will resonate with people who are open to it. Even those who are not attuned to “magic” stuff will, I think, recognize an unseen depth to it that is lacking on other albums. When I was younger I used to experience this with Coil albums, for example.

Michael: Can you elaborate on what you mean when you mention the terms qliphoth and nigredo for those of us not well versed in this topic?

Dan: To explain qliphoth first we have to talk about the Tree of Life in Kaballah. Now I’m not going to go into that because that’s a colossal thing on it’s own and is generally interpreted in a few different ways to symbolize myriad profound concepts (as in, the universe, man’s place in the universe, etc). But to keep it extremely concise: the Tree of Life is a map of 10 spheres, which represent “traits of god”: wisdom, benevolence, and so forth – basically, useful, positive traits. Qliphoth is the inverse of the Tree of Life, and the realm is called Sitra Achra. In this realm the 10 spheres represent “the failures of god”, which are basically chaotic and negative traits. Not EVIL per se, but either purely negative traits or good traits which get corrupted / become detrimental; these traits can cause us to lose willpower, creativity, connection with the divine source, etc. Again, the qliphoth can be viewed in a number of ways, but that’s the basics as it relates to the album. In short, when working with the qliphoth you are confronting the shadow; all the negative traits you carry and are connected to.

Nigredo is from alchemy which is another core component to my music. Nigredo is the first phase. In a regular alchemical sense it means decomposition or putrefaction; it’s where the alchemist cleanses and cooks a thing into a uniform black matter before it can eventually be transmuted into the end result of gold. In a spiritual sense it’s basically the initial phase of spiritual development where you confront the shadow (negative) aspects (see above^) of yourself so that you can conquer them and proceed to ascension.

Michael: Does your belief structure apply itself to your music and vice-versa?

Dan: Yes, absolutely. Worms of the Earth is the aural representation of my spiritual journey and sometimes ends up being an auditory ritual to aid in whatever spiritual goal I’m pursuing.

Michael: Do you follow a specific religious order or do you borrow concepts from various disciplines?

Dan: I’m a very isolated person so I don’t have any interest in joining a lodge or temple or whatever. Magic and “occult stuff” is extremely personal in my opinion and the stuff you do will largely only hold meaning to you and will be irrelevant to others.
In terms of concepts, every path is basically working with the same fundamental ideas, but they’ve been filtered through a person or people’s experiences – so to the initial scribe the ideas no doubt held significant meaning, but as each passing generation moves further from that initial experience then the ideas become increasingly more abstract and ambiguous. But in the end it doesn’t matter what you follow because once you drill down past the extemporaneous crap and find the core concepts, the things that really resonate with you on a metaphysical level, they are intrinsic to this existence. A significant part of process of studying magic is filtering through all the bullshit and finding the stuff that resonates with you specifically, and in the end you realize that it doesn’t really matter how you got there.

Michael: Do you feel you’ve exhausted your inspiration as a dark ambient musician or are you just wanting to try something fresh?

Dan: Absolutely not, I love dark ambient. It’s a core component of my sound and there are plenty of elements of it in the new material. There will be a couple of dark ambient interlude tracks and I’m hoping to close the album with a fully ambient track. I tend to work in cycles; I’ll do some beat-oriented material and then when I’ve written that album and exhausted my creativity I’ll work on a dark ambient album to bring the fire back and get inspired in a different way. I like to use different genres to explore alternate facets of a topic. I don’t know exactly what the future holds, but at a minimum there will always be elements of dark ambient in my music and perhaps more full length dark ambient albums. I’d love to do a full length album of ancient Egyptian themed/sounding ambient.

Michael: Ager Sonus recently released Book of the Black Earth, which focuses heavily on ancient Egyptian themes. Does this album resonate with you or do you find the theme isn’t well represented by the sounds?

Dan: I was really excited when I heard about that one, but to be honest, to me it just sounds like a regular drone album and I didn’t get any kind of Egyptian or even middle eastern/related ancient society vibe from it at all. The best “ancient middle eastern” album in my opinion is Herbst9 – Buried Under Sand And Time. It’s based on Sumerian themes, not Egyptian, but it impeccably captures the sound and feel of the ancient world.

Michael: Has your interest in the dark ambient community, as a whole, diminished? Or, do you just feel that your own personal output needs to move in a different direction?

Dan: One thing I really like about dark ambient is how…unchanging…it is. What I mean is that it exists in its own kind of ‘pure’ realm and is completely unaffected by trends, drama, etc. People write and listen to dark ambient because they love it and genuinely connect with it, the themes, or whatever. And no one will ever score cool/trendy points for pretending to be into it. That said, one negative thing is that there really isn’t much of a “community” for it beyond people who talk on the internet here and there. Most of the fans I know are involved in a different scene but “also like dark ambient” if you get what I mean. Anytime I have been to an event (and this is probably different in Europe where they actually have dark ambient festivals), it’s always been “genre x, y, and also some dark ambient”. So to answer your question, my interest in the community is the same, but I don’t really think much of a specific “dark ambient” community exists to be interested in. If anything it’s more of a “post-industrial” scene, but even that is quite small here in the US.

Michael: I would have to agree. It seems like most of the “post-industrial” scene in the U.S. comes from the North East and artists like Theologian, The Vomit Arsonist, Compactor and their sort of community. Do you have any connection to any of these guys or their labels?

Dan: Yeah I know all the guys you mentioned and have played shows with them. I did a remix for the Theologian/The Vomit Arsonist split Nature Is Satan’s Church vinyl re-issue that came out last year. Great dudes, all of those guys work really hard and run labels, put on events, and generally support the scene. Lee/Theologian especially, holy shit he has done so much for the scene and booked so many incredible bands! I think that’s one reason that scene does somewhat “well” – a lot of the musicians do things for the scene beyond just producing music.

Michael: I totally agree about Lee Bartow / Theologian [Prime]. I really think he deserves more credit for his efforts in creating tours and festivals, especially here on the East Coast US. Do you see any other large post-industrial scenes here on the East Coast that readers could keep an eye on for attending future events?

Dan: New England and New York City are the big ones where I see events happening pretty frequently. I worked with one of the guys in T.O.M.B. / Dreadlords to put on a couple of Filth Fest events in Baltimore where we had noise/experimental and dark ambient bands play, although that was a few years ago. He moved and left social media so I haven’t been in touch. One of the nicest dudes ever though and it’s great to see them blow up and get signed to Peaceville now! Anyway, I think that Baltimore and Richmond have pretty receptive audiences to this kind of music, but they don’t have a promoter that is doing bigger events consistently like the North East. Additionally, there is a strong techno scene in DC/Baltimore that seems to throw a lot of “industrial techno” events. I haven’t been, but it may be of interest to people.

Michael: Since your music is shifting gears, can we still expect to see your input as a dark ambient journalist in the future?

Dan: Most likely yes. I still absolutely love dark ambient and listen to it frequently. In the last few months I haven’t kept up with new releases much, but that’s a thing that ebbs and flows with me. I love having an outlet to use to both write about and promote good music. It’s hard for me to find time to run a zine, write reviews, do interviews, etc., but if I can find time then I’ll likely continue.

Michael: Have you done many live shows as Worms of the Earth?

Dan: Yes, quite a few actually! I think I’m up to around 60 or so. That’s one great aspect of working in multiple genres, I can play shows in different scenes for different audiences. When playing live I typically play the more beat-oriented music; maybe because I’m more connected with the industrial scene, or maybe because there isn’t much demand for dark ambient where I live. Playing the upbeat stuff is a bit more engaging anyhow, and seeing the audience react/dance to it is more stimulating than a sea of people standing around (this can still be good, but not quite as good haha).

Michael: How have your experiences been at these shows?

Dan: Well, since WotE was my first real project I’ve experienced the entire spectrum – from shows in dilapidated art spaces with 5 people attending all the way up to playing with Brighter Death Now & raison d’être. It really depends on the space and the audience. I’ve played some terrible places and some great ones. For a long time it was difficult because people had trouble accepting the one man “laptop” performance, but technology has become more pervasive in music & at live shows so people have learned to take it more seriously. In the right atmosphere playing live is one of the best parts of being a musician.

Michael: With WotE switching gears, will you be spending more of your time producing and performing as Venal Flesh?

Dan: Again, it’s cyclical for me. After I’m finished working on a project with WotE then I’ll go and work on something for Venal Flesh to keep things fresh. But it’s more complicated with VF since it’s not just me; it really depends on what the other member VanityKills wants to do.

Michael: Are you already creating new material that reflects your revamp?

Dan: Yes, the new album is almost done! I’ve been working on it for about 2.5 years now. I just started submitting it to labels so we’ll see what happens.

Michael: How soon can we expect to hear samples of this rebirth of WotE?

Dan: I have a clip on Soundcloud and on my Instagram. It really depends on what happens with labels, but I’m planning to post more clips from the studio on Instagram. Obviously, I’d like to get things moving as soon as possible but we’ll see.
Some remixes I did in the last couple years show a glimpse of the new sound, the ones for Venal Flesh and Caustic specifically.

Michael: I briefly mentioned Venal Flesh earlier. Would you like to give a bit of a description of that project and how it differs from WotE?

Dan: Venal Flesh is the joint project of myself and my partner VanityKills. We also have a live keyboardist, Joseph Myers aka DJ Biodread. We’re trying to capture the sound of late 90s, early 00s dark electro like yelworC, Suicide Commando, Aslan Faction, VAC. I love the sound of dark electro and terrorebm, but terror ebm is one of those genres that existed for a short time and no one really took it and evolved it from it’s initial stage (instead a lot of upstarts assimilated the worst characteristics and it devolved into watered down vst trance later called aggrotech). So one of the main goals with this project is to take that sound and push it to the next level; to bring back the darkness and emphasis on atmosphere of albums like Suicide Commando’s Construct/Destruct and yelworC’s Brainstorming. Thematically, it’s very dark and explores some of the most confrontational and painful parts of our psyche. To the extent that it can be difficult to work on the project. The lyrics are all up on the website, you can read them if you want to see what I mean. That’s kind of changing though and the project is getting more into magical and esoteric territory – which seems inevitable since we are both heavily involved in magic.

Michael: Are you involved in any other projects, aside from WotE and Venal Flesh?

Dan: No, just those. I barely have any free time left so I hope I don’t get involved in anything else, haha! That said, I have been working with Henrik from Seven Trees here and there on some dark ambient/death industrial material (you can hear two of our collaborative tracks on compilations from Kalpamantra and Terra Relicta). We are working on a couple of songs for compilations, and we’ve been talking about putting together a full album which will likely happen later this year or early next year. I think that will end up being affiliated with the WotE moniker (and his Subverge moniker) though as opposed to a new entity.

Michael:Thank you very much for your time, Dan. I’ll leave the final words to you!

Dan: Thanks so much for the support!

Worms of the Earth Related Pages: BandcampInstagram, Soundcloud, Facebook

Frozen In Time: Weekly News 24 July 2017

To start off the week, I’d like to mention another friendly reminder (since we haven’t made any recent progress on this front) that This Is Darkness is run by a disabled individual severely lacking in the funds department. So any help that could be given through Patreon, here, or through a one time donation (at the bottom of the page press the donate button) would be extremely helpful. If you think these weekly news updates are essential to the scene, please consider supporting the zine.

With that business out of the way, we have a ton of new releases this week to cover. You will also find a good bit of ongoing sales from some of the leading dark ambient labels, so now is the time to get some music!

In the last week on This Is Darkness, we’ve released the ‘Dark Ambient Classics Mix’, as well as reviewed the latest albums by Pär Boström’s new project Bonini Bulga, Council of Nine’s latest opus and a retro-review of an old Vond album, a side-project of Mortiis from the late 90s.

Enjoy! May the darkness forever guide your paths!

Music Videos

Creation VI
Fresh off the release of his latest album, Deus Sive Natura, on Cryo Chamber, CreationVI has released a music video for one of the album’s tracks, “Cycles of Life”.

New Releases and Preorders

Ajna – New Track Released (Digital Only)
After his recent collaboration with Dronny Darko, Black Monolith released on Reverse Alignment, Ajna has released a new track which likely gives some preview of his next album, though not explicitly stated as such.

Andrew R. Grant – New Project / Album Released (Digital Only)
“I’ve decided to take this whole ‘trying to freelance as much as possible’ thing a little more seriously, so I created a new Bandcamp page for my solo work that doesn’t fit under The Vomit Arsonist. The header for the page says ‘dark ambient sound design & scoring’ and that’s exactly what this is: a score to a film that does not exist, though I do hope to shoot it. I also have several other similar releases that are finished, although I’d like to work on physical releases for those, but that’s a different discussion..
I have no hopes of getting any kind of soundtrack work from this one single page, but I needed a place to put this stuff. If you like it and want to buy it, that’s cool. I’m not asking you to, though. it’s short.
So.. yeah. I make creepy weirdo sounds and I want to put them in your movie or video game or radio play or podcast or whatever. really.”

A Bleeding Star – New Single Released (Digital Only)
By now frequent readers should know what to expect from the dark ambient project A Bleeding Star which has been on a pattern of weekly single releases. While I generally don’t like to entertain weekly output from single artists, these singles are short tracks which, in my opinion, are given enough time to be properly created before release.
“Violin’s In Season: Crestfallen?.?.?.?I’m Headin’ to My Final Destination?.?.?.?Go Enjoy thy Freedom”

Kristian Westergaard – New Track Released (Digital Only)
“Kristian Westergaard is a Danish composer and sound artist living in Barcelona, Spain working in electronic music. Westergaard’s music is constantly searching and evolving but with great sense of direction, with a physicality only possible to achieve with a sensitive instrument and a sensitive player.”

Liturgia Maleficarum – New Track Released (Digital Only)
“New track from upcoming release. Recorded in one night in June 2017. Liturgia Maleficarum is the sountrack of the most hideous nightmares of your subconscious. ‘Sinite Parvulos Venire Ad Me” is a new track from their upcoming album.”

Nocht – New Album Released (Digital Only)
Seattle based dungeon synth / black ambient artist Noct releases his latest album, Lore of Sorrow.
https://nocht.bandcamp.com/album/lore-of-sorrows

protoU & Hilyard – Preorder Available (Cryo Chamber – CD/Digital)
Alpine Respire immerses you in field recordings from two continents. Warm drone contrasts raindrops and the call of animals in the wild. This damp album invites you to explore the unreachable corners of the Earth. From the harshest mountains to the darkest forests. Recommended for fans of Field Recording and slowly progressing drone. Available in 24 bit. Releases July 25, 2017.”

Sombre Soniks – New Album Released (Digital Only)
“Sombre Soniks is proud to present thee full performances from ‘Thee Sakrament IV’ event that took part on thee 15th June 2017 at Haunt in Stoke Newington, London. It featured a Drone set from raxil4, a live performance of thee recent ‘Fault Line’ release from Guy Harries and a full Blood Ritual from Akoustik Timbre Frekuency. Harmergeddon also took part providing bakground Visuals for raxil4 and Guy Harries.
Thee release also inkludes a pdf booklet with info for each of thee Artists involved and photos from thee event itself!”

Shelter of Trees – New Track Released (Digital Only)
“An Unholy Breach” uses sub-bass drones and daemoniac field recordings to create an atmosphere steeped in darkness swirling with an aura of evil energies.

sp3ct3rs – New Album Released (Digital Only)
“pulled those three large meditative medicative tracks into an album which is now released for pay what you like. thank you all for your support”
“a triptych of medicative meditative pieces designed around granular synthesis…”

The Wyrm – Preorder Available (GH Records – CD/Digital)
“These invocations to the old powers were described as a pact with the Devil, when the truth is that the demons of a religion are always the gods of its predecessor.
After nearly two thousand years of papist rule, the ancestral gods began to resurface. In Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Britain … there were many who wanted to turn a blind eye to their traditions, recovering the promethean essence of Europe.”

Urals Vector Plant – New EP released (Human Lessons – Digital Only)
This album is the first dark ambient works by Japan based Human Lessons. Deep drones and mesmerizing field recordings create an interesting and engaging atmosphere for the listener.

Urs Wild – New Album Released (Eighth Tower Records – Digital Only)
“Urs Wild is a musician and sound designer from Switzerland working on multiple ambient music declinations. Hidden Universe is his first full length album, and it’s the first individual release of Eighth Tower Records. The Urs Wild ambient music is fluid and cinematic. His eidetic textures tell us a story that is never really unveiled, but at the boundaries of an abstract consciousness of something we barely perceive. Something that is confined into a hidden universe. A dark minimalism, crossed by ‘gentle’ noise and oblique synth passages, that explores the territories of space, ritual and dark ambient.”

Waeltaja – Preorder Available (GSP Productions – CD/Digital)
This interesting new dark ambient / dungeon synth album releases on 1 Aug 2017.

Sales!

Cryo Chamber
“In this weeks sale we are focusing on two artists that have each released 2 albums on Cryo Chamber. Keosz and Randal Collier-Ford Save 50% on their digital downloads here.

Loki Foundation / Power & Steel
25 % off all titles!
Use code: 25daysLOKI
16/07/2017 – 10/08/2017
Check out their discography here.

The Rosenshoul
50% off all albums on Bandcamp
“Leading up to the release of the new album from The Rosenshoul next month we’ll be offering the albums Hidden Field, Low Winter Sun (Deluxe Edition) and Yokai at 50% off! That’s only $3.50 USD per album or $5.25 USD for the full discography!”
Check out their discography here.

Worms of the Earth [New Interview Coming Soon On This Is Darkness!!!]
“Myself and, as it is intrinsically linked, this project are in the midst of a major rebirth, always moving towards a more ascended state. It’s been a long journey through the darkness, but the path is becoming illuminated. I’m working on some big things for the fall and beyond. In the meantime, I’m having a sale on my two ritual ambient albums Sitra Achra and Azal’ucel. Use the code “rebirth” here for 40% off either or both of these albums!!”

This Is Darkness Week In Review

Dark Ambient Classics Mix
This mix features some of the greatest tracks throughout the history of the dark ambient genre. It contains a who’s who of several decades worth of post-industrial music as it evolved into what we know today as dark ambient. The mix was created by Przemyslaw Murzyn, who is currently the only other contributor to This Is Darkness. Przemyslaw has a fantastic resume in the dark ambient scene, as he’s been publishing dark ambient news and reviews on his website Santa Sangre for years. He is also an artist himself in the dark ambient project Embers Below Zero. I hope you will all enjoy his mix!
Listen here.

Bonini Bulga – Sealed
It seems that the coming years will be ripe with output from Hypnagoga Press. Whether this will continue to be the sole production base for the siblings, Pär and Åsa, or if some of these other locations hold introductions to new partnerships and collaborative output is anybody’s guess. But, if we consider what we have already seen as an indicator, we are in for one hell of a collection of works.
Read the full review here.

Council of Nine – Trinity
Trinity is obviously the last part of a three album sequence. It is a closure to everything that Council of Nine has done within his three solo releases. This leaves a big question mark for listeners as to what will come next. Trinity being the most personal of these three releases it seems quite possible that we will now move into some territory that is much less connected to the artist’s personal life and more aligned with his external interests. Trinity can be seen as the closure to his period as a new artist. What comes next will come from a musician that has honed their skills for several years, and is prepared to deliver their craft with a purpose and mastery that can only come from a veteran artist. For now we have plenty of great Council of Nine music to keep us entertained, and we can patiently wait to see where this artist will direct his attention next.
Read full review here.

Vond – Green Eyed Demon
For long-time fans of Mortiis, there will be nothing new here aside from the beautifully crafted re-release editions. But, for newer fans, just recently discovering his older phases and side-projects, Green Eyed Demon, as well as the other Vond albums, should be a delightful discovery. Vond definitely shows off a side of Mortiis’ talents that should be highly attractive to fans of dark ambient music. Its gritty production is a reminder of the old days of the dark ambient genre, back before everything could be done with a computer and midi controller. It’s also a reminder of the varied nature of Mortiis‘ interests. I would love to see these old albums draw enough attention to maybe get Mortiis to consider opening the vaults of Vond for one more chapter.
Read the full review here.

Please consider making a donation!

This Is Darkness 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. You can help through the donate button below,  or follow this link to the This Is Darkness Patreon page here.

Bonini Bulga – Sealed – Review

Artist: Bonini Bulga
Album: Sealed
Release date: 21 June 2017
Label: Hypnagoga Press

Tracklist:
01. Each Named
02. By A Higher Thought
03. Each With Six Wings
04. Becoming
05. Sealed As One

Bonini Bulga is the latest manifestation from the enigmatic mind of Pär Boström. While the symbolism of the album seems to draw allegories to both himself and his sister Åsa, the music was solely created by Pär. Bonini Bulga is the most subtle project yet from Pär Boström, the man behind the lauded project Kammarheit as well as Cities Last Broadcast and his other recent output, Altarmang, along with Kenneth Hansson. We also can not forget to mention the brilliant launch album on Hypnagoga Press, Orgelhuset by Hymnambulae, the collaboration with his sister and equal in Hypnagoga Press.

If this introduction to the works of Pär Boström seems a bit dizzying, it is understandable, as he has literally exploded with creativity over the last few years. But for those of us that are huge fans of his sparse but fantastic output over the last 15+/- years, this new spurt of energy and output is nothing short of a revelation.

Bonini Bulga is a hypnotic experience. A subdued collection of tracks which rely heavily on various hardware to create their strange, otherworldly soundscapes. Tape loops make up much of its foundation. The loops having been connected to various equipment, like effects foot pedals and other machinery, take on a dark and mystical quality. The darkness of the album predominately comes in the form of this odd, mystical structure. Yet, there is a pronounced darkness which occasionally rears its daemonic head. “Becoming”, which is my favorite track from the album, seems to be the climax, it brings whatever has been lurking in the shadows out into the open.

The album offers us hints at its meanings in a variety of ways. For example, each of the track titles can be read together to form one coherent statement: Each named by a higher thought, each with six wings, becoming sealed as one. The mythical and religious elements presented are clearly intended to build the foundation for the work. We can also read the passage that accompanies the album to understand more of its purpose:

”Beyond theophany and behind revelation, they arrived. Bonini and Bulga. An unlikely manifestation, of being and unbeing.

They stood there. They bowed and they bent the room they had entered.

Behind the Hierophant’s mask, Bonini, with the power to know, to shift and to unveil. The paths of hidden light and eclipses turning inward. A cowled head, overlooking thought.

Behind the mask of the Other, Bulga, with the power to create, to root and to merge. All shapes there to inhabit, all geometries there to unfold. A crowned head, overlooking process.

And they sang. Sealed as one.”

I interpret this as connecting Pär to Bonini, his work often coming in spurts of creative productivity. Much of his inspiration and direction coming from the dream world. To connect it to literature, I see him as someone like Randolph Carter from H.P. Lovecraft‘s Dream Cycle. He visits these strange beings and places in these furtive dream worlds and brings them back to us, puts thought to vision and sound, often depicting strange creatures and mystical dilapidated vaults, underworld kingdoms of ancient beauty.

Åsa Boström corresponds with Bulga. She is the mediator. Taking the so-called “geometry” and making sense of it, giving it form, purpose and direction. Restoring the ruins of ancient peoples to life, more directly a second life, a rebirth. She “roots” the meaning out of the complex visions, “merges” the uninhabited dream kingdoms with the real world. In so far as Hypnagoga Press is concerned, we have still only seen hints of the potential that she brings to the label. As the months and years progress, we will surely see much more of her direct input and influence surfacing in upcoming projects.

This is part of why The Solar Zine no.3 is so important and interesting. It literally draws a map of the future endeavors of these two visionaries. We know Kammarheit “the city, the catacombs, the mountains”, Hymnambulae “the desert and the organ house” as well as several of these other locations on the map. But, we are also given the opportunity to guess at the other upcoming works and visions of the siblings. What lies ahead for The Seafarer “the lighthouse”, or The Astronomer’s Garden “the observatory”. Then we have locations like Kalsamenen and Insomniska which give us no real hints at their purpose or how they will manifest themselves.

It seems that the coming years will be ripe with output from Hypnagoga Press. Whether this will continue to be the sole production base for the siblings, Pär and Åsa, or if some of these other locations hold introductions to new partnerships and collaborative output is anybody’s guess. But, if we consider what we have already seen as an indicator, we are in for one hell of a collection of works.

Written by: Michael Barnett
D

Dark Ambient Classics Mix

This mix features some of the greatest tracks throughout the history of the dark ambient genre. It contains a who’s who of several decades worth of post-industrial music as it evolved into what we know today as dark ambient. The mix was created by Przemyslaw Murzyn, who is currently the only other contributor to This Is Darkness. Przemyslaw has a fantastic resume in the dark ambient scene, as he’s been publishing dark ambient news and reviews on his website Santa Sangre for years. He is also an artist himself in the dark ambient project Embers Below Zero. I hope you will all enjoy his mix!

Scroll to the bottom for the full set-list and links to the artists’ music!

01. 0:00:00 Carmine Cappola – Voyage
02. 0:03:37 Lustmord – Permafrost
03. 0:10:01 raison d’être – The Hidden Hallows
04. 0:19:36 Asmorod – Night of the Skies
05. 0:27:09 Mathias Grassow – Baraka
06. 0:31:50 Robert Rich- Buoyant On Motionless Deluge
07. 0:40:08 R|A|A|N – Sandrin
08. 0:46:10 Shinkiro – Way of the Gods IV
09. 0:52:40 Alio Die – Brace Di Transformazione
10. 1:03:00 Penjaga Insaf – Djalan
11. 1:11:13 Necrophorus – Ice Shifting
12. 1:20:51 Netherworld – Iceblink (Aurora Borealis Mix)
13. 1:34:09 Sleep Research Facility – 72°S 49°E
14. 1:46:52 Northaunt – Horizons
15. 1:53:13 Shrine – The Iron Water
16. 2:00:37 Parhelion – A Lament of Whales
17. 2:05:46 Sola Translatio – The Entrance
18. 2:21:15 Troum – Skaun[ei]s
19. 2:28:49 Alio Die / Robert Rich – Sirena
20. 2:38:35 Nimh / M.B. – Before the Light
21. 2:46:02 Atomine Elektrine – Veiled Clouds
22. 2:54:38 Ildfrost – Past is No Coral Moon
23. 2:59:37 Opium – Heavy Dark Blue
24. 3:07:52 Tho-So-Aa – Disintegrated
25. 3:15:00 Biosphere – Ballerina
26. 3:22:58 Ben Babbitt – Ghosts in the Static (Marquez Farm)
27. 3:25:51 Cisfinitum – Audiochemie
28. 3:33:23 Paranoia Inducta – Scars
29. 3:43:38 Foundation Hope – Illusionconsumer
30. 3:49:14 Apoptose – Vivian Und Viebke
31. 3:54:34 Kammarheit – Spatium
32. 3:59:31 Nordvargr / Drakh – Into Darkness Forever

Council of Nine – Trinity – Review

Artist: Council of Nine
Album: Trinity
Release date: 11 July 2017
Label: Cryo Chamber

Tracklist:
01. 527
02. Memory
03. Bargaining
04. January 3rd
05. I No Longer Hear You
06. Silent Dawn
07. Trinity

“This is my catharsis. The many stages of grief and the acceptance of loss, deeply personal, unforgiving, cold and painful. This is the story of the greatest loss I have suffered, the death of my mother. This marks the end of a chapter and the closure I was desperately seeking.”

Council of Nine first appeared on the dark ambient scene with Tomb of Empires, the collaborative compilation between four artists using the theme of fallen civilizations as the basis. Since then he has released three full-length albums on Cryo Chamber as well as a follow-up collaboration in Tomb of Seers, and we also cannot forget about the massive Locus Arcadia album, which was the first time that Simon Heath allowed his Sabled Sun cycle to expand outside of his own work and into the hands of his label-mates.

On each of these releases Council of Nine has shown us his adaptability, attention to subtlety and his evolution as an artist. Trinity will follow most closely to Diagnosis, his last full length album. Diagnosis seemed, as its name would imply, to be the realization that there was a problem with his mother’s health. It was a look inside his mind as this news had its chance to sink in, and the artist had a chance to unload some of his emotional baggage into his music. Trinity moves forward in that narrative to the final period of her life. As the man behind Council of Nine attempts to cope with what is likely the greatest emotional roller coaster of his existence, the physical world moves forward, and the earlier diagnosis manifests itself in the physical form, bringing a demise to one life and a brush with the edges of sanity to the other.

So we can see that the narrative of this album is probably one of the most fitting imaginable for the inspiration of a dark ambient album. It is also quite unusual in terms of the common narratives covered in this genre. So often artists prefer to tell an abstract story, something of horror or science fiction or the occult. Actually diving into such a personal landscape of events must be a heart-wrenching experience for the artist, and thus it is often pushed aside in favor of more palatable and superficial topics.

The “darkness” in Trinity is overwhelming. It is crushing in its execution. On “January 3rd” we are confronted by actual recordings of his mother’s voice. She is literally present within the album. This must make the listening experience for the artist all the more emotional. While there is a hopeful beauty to some of the songs by Council of Nine, particularly those on Tomb of Seers, we hear none of that side of the artist manifest itself on Trinity. Council of Nine downplays the crushing bass drones on this one. He allows the lighter elements of his sound to come to the forefront, without actually allowing the mood of the tracks to be uplifting. These kinds of things allow the overwhelmingly somber subject matter of the album to expose itself fully without becoming overbearing on the listener.

The subtlety and nuance on Trinity is only possible for an artist that has been fine-tuning his craft nonstop over the last few years. Council of Nine has had little downtime since his first appearance on Tomb of Empires. He has become a master at pulling the emotions of the listener in any direction he chooses, all the while delivering top-notch musical output.

Trinity is obviously the last part of a three album sequence. It is a closure to everything that Council of Nine has done within his three solo releases. This leaves a big question mark for listeners as to what will come next. Trinity being the most personal of these three releases it seems quite possible that we will now move into some territory that is much less connected to the artist’s personal life and more aligned with his external interests. Trinity can be seen as the closure to his period as a new artist. What comes next will come from a musician that has honed their skills for several years, and is prepared to deliver their craft with a purpose and mastery that can only come from a veteran artist. For now we have plenty of great Council of Nine music to keep us entertained, and we can patiently wait to see where this artist will direct his attention next.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Vond – Green Eyed Demon – Retro Review

Artist: Vond
Album: Green Eyed Demon
Original release date: 1997
Re-release date: 10 January 2017
Original label: Cybertzara
Re-release label: Funeral Industries

Tracklist:
01. My Dying Day
02. Living Among the Remains of Dead People
03. Satan at My Back
04. To the Dreamer Dead and the Dreamer Dying
05. Hell Starts Now

Green Eyed Demon is the third and final album by Vond, a side project of Mortiis. These three albums were created from 1994 through 1998. Green Eyed Demon was initially released on the Cybertzara label. Now, almost 20 years later, Mortiis has re-released this album through his own label, Omnipresence.

Many of our readers should be very familiar with Mortiis. Several of his Era 1 albums were released through the late, legendary Cold Meat Industry, which was the launch pad for many of the forefathers of the dark ambient scene. The main project of Mortiis started as what is now called dungeon synth. He would later transition into dark wave / goth rock / goth metal or whatever other classification would best describe his varied sounds. But the lesser known side-project Vond, is the one which would be best suited to fans of the dark ambient genre. Vond may not in every aspect fall perfectly into the framework of traditional dark ambient, but it is probably the closest genre to this music.

The album Green Eyed Monster consists almost exclusively of the manipulation and layering of cinematic samples. Throughout the album, Vond sets the foundation for each track with a blend of dense industrial soundscapes and noises. This is industrial in the literal sense of the word, not the genre. We can hear machinery humming, the crashing and hammering of metal, steam releasing through valves. On top of this foundation Vond pieces together a plethora of samples of various cinematics.

The opening track, “My Dying Day”, focuses on descriptions of the early use of the electric chair in the United States prison system. The samples of a narrator describe the procedure in minute detail. Occasionally intertwined with these samples are Gregorian chants, which add a sort of perverse beauty to the composition. All this is placed on top of a thick foundation of industrial noises, which easily brings to mind early works of raison d’être, with particular similarities to the album Within the Depths of Silence and Phormations. As both artists were on the Cold Meat Industry roster during this period, it isn’t hard to imagine that they were likely borrowing a bit of inspiration from one another. Though I should make it clear that these similarities are not nearly enough to warrant calling one or the other a follower or copycat of the other’s style.

The following track, “Living Among the Remains of Dead People”, incorporates large portions of an old film, which appears to be of a documentary format, though it is actually a horror film posing as documentary footage. The story follows the demented and evil deeds of a psychopath by the name of Ezra Cobb. The narrative explains the progression of Cobb’s mental collapse from his initial attempts to cope with the death of his mother through his later acts of grave-robbing and necrophilia. Along with the narrative, Vond layers in samples of the man screaming “mother!” and other sound clips which add to the immersion for the listener.

My favorite track from the album, “To the Dreamer Dead and the Dreamer Dying”, takes us closer to the sounds of Era I Mortiis than much of the other output on  the Vond albums. There is much more prevalent use of the synthesizer on this track. Initially, we can hear a wind instrument, later it shifts to a sound which comes closer to a bass guitar that eventually is treated with distortion. As the track progresses the synth work moves into territory that would be very fitting on some soundtrack to a film, which is obviously a natural choice here, on an album that is full of cinematic samples. Aside from the synthesizer, Vond incorporates a variety of cinematic samples which seem to take us into some of the worst sagas of Christian history.

Green Eyed Demon has been given an impressive re-release. While it doesn’t appear that there was any re-mastering done, the physical copies of this album will be a delight to the avid collector. Through Mortiis‘ web-store there is finally an official digital copy of the album. A limited edition LP is presented in several different variations, including: black, blue, testpress, and there are even some copies of the original 1997 pressing available. The album is also released for the first time on CD in an A5 digipak.

For long-time fans of Mortiis, there will be nothing new here aside from the beautifully crafted re-release editions. But, for newer fans, just recently discovering his older phases and side-projects, Green Eyed Demon, as well as the other Vond albums, should be a delightful discovery. Vond definitely shows off a side of Mortiis’ talents that should be highly attractive to fans of dark ambient music. Its gritty production is a reminder of the old days of the dark ambient genre, back before everything could be done with a computer and midi controller. It’s also a reminder of the varied nature of Mortiis‘ interests. I would love to see these old albums draw enough attention to maybe get Mortiis to consider opening the vaults of Vond for one more chapter.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Frozen In Time: Weekly News 17 July 2017

This week’s edition of Frozen in Time is a bit short, as the summer is usually the slowest quarter of the year for music releases. However the albums that are available to share are certainly worth a listen and probably a purchase. This downtime will surely not last too long before all the major labels are back to their frequent release structure this fall. During this slower period I will be working on reviews for more albums ‘On The Periphery’ which have drawn my attention over the last few months, but have been previously pushed aside in order to cover more strictly dark ambient styled releases. Stay cool, enjoy your summer, and until next week, let the darkness consume your souls!

Music Videos

Ashtoreth – New Video Released
Tim Van der Schraelen has collaborated with Ashtoreth again for the music video to “Wani Yetu” off the recent album Morana released through Unexplained Sounds Group.

Eidulon – Teaser Video for Upcoming Album on Malignant
We first heard the works of Eidvlon several years back on their Malignant release Idolatriae, which you can listen to here. They are now back with their sophomore album which has some huge guest appearances that are mentioned in this teaser video.

New Releases and Preorders

Asath Reon – New Album Preorder (Black Mara – CD/Digital)
The debut by Asath Reon, Buried Visions, is something that I have been anticipating for a while now. The final product makes the wait worth while. Asath Reon finds a perfect home on Black Mara with their ritual dark ambient sounds which have been honed to perfection. A brilliant new album, that comes in a beautifully realized limited edition CD and hand-made leather book.

Giuseppe Falivene – New EP Preorder (Shimmering Moods – CD/Cassette/Digital)
“This work was born from the idea to propose a Drone\Ambient reinterpretation of 90’s feelings.
The sound created from this it’s like an unrestrainable flow of memories where the emotions re-emerging.
To make the idea of low, all the tracks starts and ends with a tape\vinyl noise, to make sure that the mix is continuous and endless like the flowing time.”

Noctivagant – New Compilation Released (Noctivagant – Digital Only)
The Collective III is the latest compilation from the Noctivagant label. This “name your price” release features an introduction to all the great artists they have to offer. Darkness meets ritual meets experimental on this label which releases music from a wide-variety of artists and yet they all seem to have a very central commonality. Recommended especially for anyone unfamiliar with Noctivagant.

Shelter of Trees – New Singles Released (Digital Only)
“A Sudden Sheltering” is the first release by Shelter of Trees. True to the project’s name, this track is a slightly dark mix of subtle dronework and crisp field recordings. The forest comes to life over this 7:25 track, taking listeners on a contemplative journey in their minds. Shelter of Trees is certainly worth following, with a single of this caliber we are likely to hear some great things for them in the near future.

Their second single was released several days later. “The Unwelcoming” takes us onto a more droning and much darker territory. As if we’ve wandered aimlessly through the forest, and now night is setting in, predators come out for the hunt.

Sales

Loki Foundation

They are currently running a sale of 25% off all their releases on Bandcamp! Now is the perfect time to pick up some of these classic dark ambient releases! View their releases here.

This Is Darkness Week In Review

Anima NostraAtraments
Atraments is far from my usual musical interests. In general, I’m not always a fan of the many varied works of Nordvargr. but I greatly enjoyed the aforementioned Körperwelten and obviously some of the works of Mz.412, so I gave this latest release an honest chance. My first impressions were a bit negative, again I’m not a huge fan of doom metal in particular. But, after the second and third playthroughs I started to really understand the project and slowly but surely fell in love with each track and the nuances and progressions that take place throughout the album. This is why I would never review an album without giving it numerous listens, first impressions can be misleading, some things, especially those that fall outside the usual genre boundaries, need time to make sense to the listener. At this point, I could say that I highly recommend Atraments to any fans of the varied output of Malignant Records. It seems that the variety of releases from the Malignant label all find their way of making sense within the frame-work of this one single album. There is the dark, the brooding, the beautiful, and the ugly, all making appearances on Atraments.”
Read the full review here.

Please consider making a donation!

This Is Darkness 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. You can help through the donate button below,  or follow this link to the This Is Darkness Patreon page here.

 

Anima Nostra – Atraments – On the Periphery – Review

Artist: Anima Nostra
Album: Atraments
Release date: 16 June 2017
Label: Malignant Records

Tracklist:
01. Composition for the Shadow Self
02. Naamah
03. Blameless
04. Tabula Smaragdina
05. Solemn Majesty
06. Anima Nostra
07. Intermezzo for the Double-Wanded One
08. Doxologia Yaldabaoth
09. The Seal

Henrik Nordvargr Björkk is one of the most active and relevant members of the post-industrial scene. His project Mz.412 put him on that map as far back as the late 1980s. Since then he has taken part in a staggering number of projects. His albums have been released by such labels as Cold Meat Industry, Cold Spring, Cyclic Law and Malignant Records to name just a few. In recent years, we’ve seen a some great output by a few of his “side-projects” if they can be called that, as most of his work these days, in one way or another, consists of a side-project to some other previous greatness, be it Mz.412, Pouppée Fabrikk, Nordvargr, etc.

In early 2016 Nordvargr teamed up with Margaux Renaudin to release an album entitled Anima Nostra on Cold Spring. The album consisted of music that was hard to accurately label. There were elements of death industrial, doom metal, neo-classical and dark ambient. The duo were so happy with the final product that they quickly began to work on a follow-up album, this time they named their project/band Anima Nostra. He recently released several well received albums on Malignant Records including The Secret Barbarous Names as Nordvargr and Avatars of Rape and Rage as Körperwelten, a collaboration with Lee Bartow of Theologian/Navicon Torture Technologies. So it followed that Anima Nostra would return to Malignant Records with their newest creation, Atraments.

As was the case with their debut the year before, Anima Nostra bring together an amalgamation of styles/genres that seem like they would clash, but for Anima Nostra the combination works perfectly. Atrament, a word many may not be familiar with, is defined as black fluid. A look over the beautifully crafted digi-pak gives us a literal example of this word in use. Much of the album art consists of a matte black background with a glossy black lettering. The characters are unfamiliar to me, but seem to have similarities to Urdu, ancient Sumerian and ancient Akkadian alphabets. The digi-pak comes with an 8-page booklet containing even more of these beautifully antiquated scripts.

Atraments glides between the territory of multiple genres effortlessly. The opening track, “Composition for the Shadow Self” has an ambient start, which evolves into some glacially paced doom metal style music. The guitar is distorted and only uses several chords repeatedly over industrial metallic drums which give the track an almost religious, tribal feel. Nordvargr’s vocals are deep and guttural screams. “Naamah”, the following track, consists of a screeching guitar feedback which drones over a plethora of drums, whispers and screams, which all provide a backdrop to Nordvargr’s spoken words which are highly ritualistic. Then there are tracks like “Tabula Smaragdina” and “Solemn Majesty” which incorporate Gregorian style chants and other beautiful religious stylized sounds, such as a cathedralic organ section, which provide the perfect opposition to the other more gritty and chaotic tracks.

Atraments is far from my usual musical interests. In general, I’m not always a fan of the many varied works of Nordvargr. but I greatly enjoyed the aforementioned Körperwelten and obviously some of the works of Mz.412, so I gave this latest release an honest chance. My first impressions were a bit negative, again I’m not a huge fan of doom metal in particular. But, after the second and third playthroughs I started to really understand the project and slowly but surely fell in love with each track and the nuances and progressions that take place throughout the album. This is why I would never review an album without giving it numerous listens, first impressions can be misleading, some things, especially those that fall outside the usual genre boundaries, need time to make sense to the listener. At this point, I could say that I highly recommend Atraments to any fans of the varied output of Malignant Records. It seems that the variety of releases from the Malignant label all find their way of making sense within the frame-work of this one single album. There is the dark, the brooding, the beautiful, and the ugly, all making appearances on Atraments.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Frozen In Time: Weekly News 10 July 2017

This week’s edition of Frozen In Time is rather short on new dark ambient releases. We have the third album by Council of Nine unveils on Cryo Chamber, which is really the only major announcement of the week. But there are actually some really promising releases in the peripheral genres of ambient and neo-classical that I think many of you will find interesting and worth delving into. There are a good bit of albums on sale this week as well. As always you will find our latest reviews at the bottom of the page, along with your weekly reminder that helping This Is Darkness out through paypal donations or Patreon sponsorship is always appreciated and greatly helpful in keeping the zine up and running! Stay cool, and enjoy the week!

New Releases & Preorders

A Bleeding Star – New Single Released (Digital Only)
This week’s installment from A Bleeding Star takes us into a frozen landscape where gods and humans mingle amongst one another. As usual, A Bleeding Star delivers a very interesting and well thought out track. The fact that he is pumping out one of these every single week, as of yet, doesn’t seem to be making the final product suffer. Give “Witchcraft for Winter’s Broken Staff: Runic Synapse (Haegl Peorth Cen Feoh Ur Asa Tyr)” a try!

Council of Nine – New Album Available For Preorder (Cryo Chamber – CD/Digital)
Council of Nine returns with his third album on Cryo Chamber. Trinity is a touching, personal and enlightening album from Maximillian Olivier. In a genre where most keep their personal life to themselves, Maximillian opens his heart for all to see. “This is my catharsis. The many stages of grief and the acceptance of loss, deeply personal, unforgiving, cold and painful. This is the story of the greatest loss I have suffered, the death of my mother. This marks the end of a chapter and the closure I was desperately seeking.”
Blending atmospheric sound layering with a harmonic palette it drifts between dark and light. Walls of sound collide with echoing strums, drones wash over endless shores. Recommended for lovers of melancholic dark ambient.

Kelbach – New Album Released (Sparkwood Records – CD/Digital)
“The strong, underlying ambient theme of this EP evokes scenes from a nonexistent film, composed of memories of the northern Ohio shore. Recurrent melodies almost seem to be characters in each scene, arranged and played in ways that very effectively convey a wide range of human experience, from sadness and fear to daydreaming and falling in love.
Every single sound is emotionally charged in this intimate and moving seven-part love letter to the state of the buckeye trees and the heart of it all.”

Maiya Hershey – New Album Available For Preorder (Shimmering Moods Records – CD/Cassette/Digital)
“The water itself is the second collaborator on this fluid record because this music originated from the depth of the waters where life began to proliferate in an unfamiliar faraway land. This album is a fictional story that encompasses a new way of life manifesting in a creature that inherited all of human consciousness and memory. The music flow is an experience within itself inside this creature and all life within; for all things lost, and will be, belong to it entirely.” Releases 18 July 2017.

My Home, Sinking – New Album Available For Preorder (Infraction – Vinyl/CD/Digital)
King of Corns looks to be a very promising new album. The sounds are definitely more in line with neo-classical than dark ambient, but the atmospherics and mood should be welcome to fans of dark ambient. While the words neo-classical can often be used ad-nauseum to describe anything with a bit of piano or violin, this album promises to be the real deal with eight classical musicians coming together to constructive a brilliantly layered and emotive set of soundscapes. I’ve only heard the two preview tracks so far, but I can already say I would highly recommend this release. Official release date is 16 September 2017.

Poemme – New Album Available for Preorder (Polar Seas Recordings – CD/Digital)
“This collection of songs was composed specifically for sleep and reflects my memories of winters growing up in Cleveland… The endless gray skies, the magic of a fresh blanket of snow, and more wonder still once Lake Erie transforms into a vast, frozen desert. The scene takes place at my favorite lakeside park, with a pale sky above and waves of solid ice below. All is silent but for a flock of geese in the distance, making its way to warmer land..”

Strange Fog – New EP Released (Divergent Series – Cassette/Digital)
I’m not familiar with this artist, but upon listening I was immediately drawn into the sounds. Only about 13 minutes total, but definitely worth the time!
“Beautiful modular sounds and field recordings dance together in a beautiful mix of immersive admixtures. Limited to 50 cassettes. Green and white cover variants…specify which color you’d like when you order!”

Sum Spiræ – New Album Available For Preorder (D.M.T. Records – Digital Only)
Translated from the original French: “From one course to another, from one universe to another, utopia seems to reign in the mortal through ideals created by the coded thought (mother tongue). The paradox exists within the verbal consciousness itself. By this second alchemical treaty, Samuel presents 9 pieces named by his own mother tongue while being channeled by the inception of his personal journey. Musicality, expression, astral travel (…) listening to these nine creations in a single line, you are connected to the language of the birds that belongs to Sum Spiræ.”

Sales & Discounts

Cryo Chamber
Ugasanie Digital Albums are on a 50% Discount

Ugasanie – White Silence $3.50
Ugasanie paints us a grim, cold and bleak landscape of dark ambient with this chilling album from the heart of Belarus. Careful layering of subtle pads with the frosty overlays of field recordings makes for a truly special soundscape that speaks to the core of unsheltered humanity.

Ugasanie – Call of the North $3.50
This album takes us even further north to explore the concept of the unusual and mysterious phenomenon known as arctic hysteria (also known as menerik and the call of the North Star). It manifests itself only in the polar night, and only when the northern lights shine. Man, as if under hypnosis journeys north. In this state of trance he is almost impossible to stop, he becomes aggressive, sings a song, mumbles, experience hallucinations and persistently continues towards the polar star.

Ugasanie – Eye of Tunguska $3.50
A strange incident took place in the 1990s in late autumn in the taiga. Not far from the epicenter of the Tunguska meteorite impact site. A group of students went hiking to to see this legendary site. They lost their way after they decided to spend the night in one of the winter huts built by hunters of the land. Their mutilated bodies were later found near an old abandoned geological base with radiation burns. Ugasanie explores this incident together with photographer Alexsandr Yakushev in this eerily cold and unforgiving dark ambient release.

Ugasanie – Border of Worlds $3.50
The Nenets, Tungus, Eveneki, Yakut share many beliefs and in the center stands the shaman. We follow him through his inner journey while tackling shaman’s disease. Clouded consciousness and hysterical stupor clear signs of the Amanita Mushroom. His sweat covered body feverish while pulled to the lower world of spirit. Here his weathered body cut and torn to pieces by the spirits who cook and devour it. Meanwhile in the dim lit hut the shamans body starts bruising while the tribe watches over him. Reborn, the Shaman awakens, granted powers to traverse between worlds. With the gift to cure his tribe of sickness, to control animals and commune with the spirits.

Flowers For Bodysnatchers
50% off all albums.

Infinity Land Press
Summer Sale – 20% off selected books!

Darkleaks – The Ripper Genome
by Jeremy Reed & Martin Bladh
Foreword by Stephen Barber
WAS £25 / NOW £19

Alien Existence
by Philip Best
WAS £55 / NOW £44

CHILDHOOD
by Michael Salerno
Standard edition
WAS £35 / NOW £28

The Void Ratio
By Shane Levene & Karolina Urbaniak
WAS £20 / NOW £16

GONE – SCRAPBOOK 80′ – 82′
by Dennis Cooper
WAS £35 / NOW £28

This Is Darkness Week In Review

Bleach For The Stars – The Time For Silver Flowers
“The Time For Silver Flowers is a highly enjoyable album, which can be returned to time and again. The analog elements do not seem as mechanical and lifeless herein as is so often the case with albums fully dedicated to this format. This is a perfect place to start for those unfamiliar with Cromlech Records. For those already familiar with the label, there should be minimal criticism of this latest release to be found. In sound execution as well as packaging, Cromlech Records have done justice to the vision of Benjamin Power. I will certainly be paying attention to whatever comes next for Cromlech and/or Bleach for The Stars.”
Read the full review here.

Shibalba – Psychostasis – Death of Khat
“Psychostasis – Death of Khat clearly shifts from much of the previous Shibalba catalog into totally new territory. Their move to a label focusing on rock and metal acts seems to fit their shift in style. Yet, they still manage to retain the energy and mysticism that made Memphitic Invocations and Samsara so successful. They will surely attract a whole new crowd of listeners to their sounds. While, from my perspective, they shouldn’t alienate their oldest and most dedicated supporters that followed Shibalba from its birth. I would recommend Psychostasis – Death of Khat to any previous fans of Shibalba. I also think there is a big enough shift in their sound to attract readers whom may not have previously found Shibalba to be their thing. Whether they will stay the course with this new style, return to their previous frameworks or evolve yet again into something wholly new for their next release will be any one’s guess. In the meantime, Psychostasis – Death of Khat should give us plenty to enjoy for the foreseeable future.”
Read the full review here.

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