03. Help Me Sleep [eternally]
04. Where Children’s Dreams Go To Sleep
05. Arterele Viselor/Hipnoza
06. Yami Ni Maboroshi
07. The Practice of Solitude
09. Wails of the Oblivious
Haft Teppeh is a new dark ambient project out of București, Romania. Quietly released through Autarkeia, Yume almost passed my notice. Immediately upon hearing the opening track I realized this was not an album to be missed. For me, the beauty of Haft Teppeh is in their ability to delve into the waters of several different dark ambient styles flawlessly. But one thing that stands out, is their similarity to the general atmosphere of early 2000s dark ambient musicians from the Scandinavian area.
The albums themes lie in several areas, which may or may not be clashing with each other. (Or just misunderstandings on my part.) The first relevant factor is Haft Teppeh itself, which seems to refer to an ancient site near modern Khuzestan in Iran. Haft Teppeh appears to have been in use during the middle Elamite period. Many of the ritual elements in the album, as well as the similarities to a project like Herbst9, would certainly make sense within the context of this connection.
The other relevant factor is the allusion, in track titles, to sleep/hypnosis/prophetic vision. On “Anomalie” we hear a meandering drone with a backdrop of strange, glitchy, almost otherworldly, noises. This eerie soundscape is complemented by a passage being spoken in a sort of dreamy half-whisper. This track gives me strong vibes of a combination between Cities Last Broadcast and Hymnambulae, as well as much of the Aural Hypnox catalog.
Combining these two ideas, we could imagine that Yume may be representing the story of a mystic tapping into their sibylline powers to connect with the distant past. The combination of ritual elements with things much more subtle helps this picture, we witness the ritual preparations, and then we slowly move further into this lucid hypnotic state, picturing ourselves in distant times and lands, far from our actual reality.
Putting questions of interpretation aside, one can come to this album with no sense of context and thoroughly enjoy every moment. Haft Teppeh is a well honed dark ambient project, which seems incredibly polished for a debut. I have already made references above to some of the projects I would compare with Haft Teppeh. Still there are other incredibly dreamy tracks, like “Help Me Sleep [eternally]” and “Where Children’s Dreams Go To Sleep” which could almost hide convincingly among the works of Kammarheit. As this is the third project by Pär Boström which I’ve mentioned here, I am willing to assume Haft Teppeh are quite the fans of his various musical works. We can also see some possible nods to the aesthetics of Aural Hypnox in Haft Teppeh‘s use of initials instead of artists’ full names.
In further comparisons, “Yami Ni Maboroshi” opens up with a subtle synth/drone which I immediately associate with some of Angelo Badalamenti‘s work on Lost Highway. But this connection only holds for a split second before the track fully reveals its ritual elements. This one is a highly meditative track, with the relaxing drones and gentle percussions clashing against the occasional high registered tone or momentary field of static. It all melts perfectly into something that gradually moves further into the realms of raison d’être, and here again, Haft Teppeh do honor to the connection.
As a debut, Yume is a triumph. Haft Teppeh are creating music which absolutely astounds me to imagine it might be their first foray into dark ambient. I am almost, but not, convinced that there might be some well-known dark ambient musician hiding behind the initials “HT”. Yume is currently only available in cassette through Autarkeia.org or digitally on the Haft Teppeh bandcamp page. An album like this really deserves an expanded release, in CD or vinyl, and hopefully we will see that. But, regardless I must assume they are already hard at work on whatever might come next. With a debut like this one, I really can’t wait.
My sincere apologies for the long delay since our last Frozen In Time, but I have continued from where I left off in July. So there will be no skipped time still! Of course this means the list is rather massive. I urge you to take your time, bookmark the page if you must, so that you can give each of these artists their deserved chance.
I’ll be away again for the first half of October, so I will try to stay current on correspondences, but if you don’t hear back from me I will be returning soon enough!
Reminder of New Physical Address for Submissions! Michael Barnett 9100 Blues Alley Apt.G Laurel, Maryland, 20723 USA
Feedspot has named This Is Darkness as one of the top 15 ambient music blogs in their latest update. We are pleased to be alongside well known and respected zines in the dark ambient world such as Heathen Harvest and Noise Receptor. Hopefully this will help bring some more new fans to the genre! See the list here.
Martin Bladh – New Book Released
The new novella, “Marty Page”, is a body horror romp through a self-imposed dungeon of depravity and sensory excess, written by Martin Bladh. Martin Bladh is a Swedish writer, artist and musician, leader of the post-industrial band IRM, the musical avant-garde unit Skin Area and co-founder of publisher Infinity Land Press. Stapled booklet. 56 pages. 8.5 x 5.5 in. $10 Buy here: https://amphetaminesulphate.bigcartel.com/product/marty-page
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Apoptose – “Time-Lapse City”
“Time-Lapse City” is the first video single of the upcoming Apoptose album Die Zukunft.
Ionophore – “Blade”
“Blade” is the first offering from the new album Whetter which has just released on Malignant Records. This is a side-project of Leila Abdul-Rauf, who has also released a new album on Malignant. The video was created by: Rhea DeCaro.
ᚾᛟᚢ II // ᚦᛟᚦ ᚷᛁᚷ – Alpha Ænigma (Digital Only)
ᚾᛟᚢ II // ᚦᛟᚦ ᚷᛁᚷ is Henrik Nordvargr Björkk and Thomas Ekelund (not to be confused with their other project “Det Kätterska Förbund”).
With every repetition of these curses, the emanating energies are multiplied by one order of magnitude. Each current becomes a shining dagger that cuts through the flesh, and bone, and souls of treacherous men.
Abbattoir & Satori – New Album Released (GH – CD/Digital)
“Satori, continuing a project first started in the 1980’s founding member Dave Kirby brings an onslaught of industrial soundscapes, pounding drums and a dystopian vision of a world commited to destroying itself.
Comprising a mixture of harsh noise and power electronics with a harder and heavier percussive beat than before Satori enter 2018 with a collection of new songs “Dispossession” based on the physical and mental disconnect facing everyone in the modern world. A constant pervasive undercurrent of violence, the feeling of a society on the brink of a total meltdown and the fears and torments of the powerless individual.
Lorenzo Abattoir is an Italian-based noise artist and sound engineer from Torino. His work takes shape in a context of underground extreme noise music to become accessible through projects related to sound art. ‘The sound of chaos merging with order, where every detail and nuance seems to be carefully regulated and controlled’.”
Akhtya – New Album Released (Digital Only)
“Elements of Apotheosis is a recording for the ritual chamber, meditation, visualization and to inspire astral and dream projection. Akhtya recorded and presented the track at the 2018 Flambeau Noir during Michael W. Ford’s presentation on Demonic Symbols and Basic Magick. This recording explores the Miltonesq representation of Satan/Lucifer and the Fallen Angels as Bringers of Wisdom, Power and Balance in this life. The planet Venus is depicted twice to represent the Morning & Evening Star. The recordings are interwoven heights and depths of acasual streams of the adversarial current which holds dominion over the casual world and brings transformation or decay to the natural order. This balance, represented by the darksome journey into chaos finds spells and incantations upon the winds; light is that Black Flame of spirit which takes form under the Deific Mask of the Adversary and fallen angels taking many forms. Invocations and Names of Power of the Watchers, Satanic and Luciferian demons and deities are uttered to unlock forgotten gates in our subconscious, opening the Left-Hand Path to Apotheosis or becoming “As a God”. Simply put, Luciferian Theurgy is to master the self and build your own domain according to your will in this life.”
Alaskan Tapes – New Album Released (Facture – CD/Digital)
“You Were Always An Island opens with a downpour of rain. Staring out at its constant fall, listeners can only wait for it to stop. The music’s already waiting: for someone, and for a moment that will never arrive…
Alaskan Tapes aids in the clear-up operation, helping to cleanse the air if not the growing solitude. Quiet drones and sullen strings dispel the rain, but it lingers in the streets, overflowing around the mouth of its gutter. The music has been invaded by a longing which spreads like a tendril of ink in clear water, bruising the atmosphere with its purple, sour colour.
An event shakes the soul with the magnitude of an earthquake. In this case, the cruelty of distance and the greater cruelty of war which separates a couple. As a man leaves to fight, his beloved has no other choice but to wait for his return. She sends unanswered prayers. His absence grows longer with every sunset. Unable to wait and growing increasingly anxious, she sets off to look for him, a lighthouse offering a faint lifeline in the gathering gloom, only to sadly learn of his death. The separation is permanent – death us do part.”
Andromalar – Preorders Available (Reverse Alignment – CD/Digital)
“Reverse Alignment welcome ukrainian Andromalar to the fold. After three self released titles this magic drone act now found it’s way to our label. Vast, dreamy soundscapes is expected. Listen and you’ll understand what Andromalar is all about.”
Ataşehir – New Album Released (Sumatran Black – Digital)
The new side-project of Sumatran Black, Ataşehir, is a residential development on the Asian side of Istanbul, Turkey. The titles for Colorful Places to Live and Play are taken from aspirational advertising slogans of various residential developments from around the world.
Atrium Carceri – New Album Released (Cryo Chamber – Vinyl/CD/Digital)
“Atrium Carceri returns with Codex, an album 3 years in the making. Dark drone, industrial beats and brooding choirs set the tone for exploration of a world beyond the illusion. Deep in the roots of the citadel a sea of white robes ever flows. Those Fallen from Elysium kneel here, with blissful smiles and fearful eyes. The sorrowful melancholia of a thousand whispered prayers lies heavy about the place. Prayers for the Demiurge to return, and grant them once more the warm embrace of their paradise.
The DigiBook version of this release contains artwork Simon has been working on for years with accompanying writing. A glimpse into the world beyond, where we once ruled as gods. The CD version comes in a 16 page hard cover deluxe DigiBook with matte lamination.”
Bjärgö – New Albums Released (Digital Only [currently])
Peter Bjärgö, known for his work in Arcana, Sophia and Karjalan Sissit is back with another solo album, this time under the moniker Bjärgö. Make that two solo albums! From Arcana’s Facebook post: “Peter has once again finished a new album under his project name BJARGO. And once again his beautiful soundscapes fill the room. Listen with high volume!”
Asked about a physical version they responded: “Not now, later! In the speed Peter is producing now we don’t want to wait for releases of cd’s:)”
Bonini Bulga – Sealed Now Available On CD (Hypnagoga Press/Cyclic Law – Cassette/CD)
“Sweden’s enigmatic and highly productive Pär Boström of Kammarheit, Cities Last Broadcast and Altarmang presents yet another singular project under the name Bonini Bulga. His debut Sealed was originally recorded and released in 2017 as a limited edition cassette on Boström’s own label Hypnagoga Press. We gladly present a remastered and extended version of this release. In recent years Boström has been exploring new sonic territories through his various projects, and with Bonini Bulga he’s chosen a more lo-fi loop based approach to his musical creations, bleak and minimalistic, we journey through a careful blend of processed analog synth layers and poignant revolving passages. This expanded edition includes three new tracks, which further exposes Boström’s unique vision and creative pact with the unknown, giving listeners the complete scope of his contemplative sonic magick.”
Caleb R.K. Williams – New Albums Released (Eagle Stone Collective – Digital)
I’ve been following the music of Caleb R.K. Williams and Co. from The Eagle Stone Collective more and more recently. Williams has a pretty grueling release schedule, with something new usually every month. But, unlike many artists rolling through such an enormous amount of material, each album seems emotional, fresh, and different from his previous works. With everything on their label set as “name your price”, it can’t hurt to give them a try! Highly Recommended.
The Caretaker – New Stage Released (HAFTW – CD/Vinyl/Digital)
“Stage 5 – September 2018 (K+L+M+N)
Post-Awareness Stage 5 confusions and horror.
More extreme entanglements, repetition and rupture can give way to
calmer moments. The unfamiliar may sound and feel familiar.
Time is often spent only in the moment leading to isolation.”
Common Eider, King Eider – New Album Released
(Cyclic Law/Sentient Ruin Laboratories – Vinyl/CD/Cassette/Digital)
“A Wound Of Body is the first chapter in Common Eider, King Eider’s Wound “duology”, forming the group’s most focused and fully realised work to date. Offering a sprawling, audial exploration of wounds at once physical and spiritual, social and societal, natural and environmental. A Wound Of Body is a beautifully stark soundscape, dolorously dense, suffocatingly oppressive and utterly claustrophobic. An immersive black hole of bleak, cavernous drone music and disquieting, desolate ambience, each track a hushed and harrowing ritual; the surface minimalism underpinned by a churning morass of sound, a layered liturgy of blackened invocations and nebulous strings hovering in the shadows. Presented in a beautiful black and silver duotone sleeve, adorned with images of micro-landscapes rendered in bone, stark images of the alien, otherworldly topography that lurks beneath the skin, emblematic of the inevitable decay and disintegration of our physical forms: the ruin we become, and the ruin we leave behind. Layout Design by Yoli at Aponeurotica.”
Corona Barathri – New Album Released (Grey Matter Productions – CD/Cassette/Digital)
“A new ritual material written on the eve of the Great Sabbath, dedicated to all the dark souls – Faithful to Diabolus! ”
Corona Barathri & Emme Ya – New Album Released (Noctivagant – CD/Digital)
Renowned ritual ambient musician Emme Ya has come together with Corona Barathri, a much younger ritual ambient project, which has torn through the scene over the last few years. You can find out some of the specifics about this release in our new episode of The Inner Sanctum!
Deathstench & Phurpa – New Album Released (Digital Only)
“Evoking Shadows of Death is a collaboration between Russia’s ritual collective Phurpa and California’s occult misanthropists, DEATHSTENCH. Fusing ultrasonic vibrations and grim necro-atmospheres with the harmonious chants and deep, droning reverberations of the tantric voice, these two tracks are designed to help the chod practitioner tap the power of absolute terror. Only those who have visited one of Tibet’s charnel fields and witnessed the offering of a corpse to vultures may be able to understand the full impact of what the Chöd tradition refers to as places that inspire fear.”
DeepDark & Noctilucant – New Split Released (Noctivagant – CD/Digital)
“Paginae Nigres pairs the work of DeepDark (Russia) with Noctilucant
(USA) on this split album where both projects step away from their
familiar sound and explore more ritualistic dark ambient stylings while
still maintaining the cinematic sound they are known for. DeepDark and
Noctilucant take the listener on a ill-lighted path through profund
dream/nightmarish realms, barren landscapes and clandestine ritualistic
Desiderii Marginis – New Album Released (Cyclic Law – CD/LP/Digital)
“Long awaited new material by one of Sweden’s most revered Dark Ambient acts. Vita Arkivet translates from Swedish as “The White Archive” and is an official document detailing ones funeral arrangements. In death our existence is whitewashed, the slate wiped clean. We start all over and we bring nothing with us where we go. We lose the agency of our own memory and leave it for those left behind to attend to, to continue our story, to write our eulogy. Vita is also the latin word for Life, so the meaning could also be “The Life Archive”. White is the colour of the casket lining, the plaster death masks and the walls of the chapel, it is the colour of the first and last pages. What is kept in between the covers of our life archives? This record is a personal reflection and manifestation of that process, the loss and the great detachment from life, from others, and from ourselves.” Note: Along with this new release, Cyclic Law has released a re-issue of Deadbeat, which sees a new CD/Vinyl pressing.
Draugurinn – Preorders Available (CD/Digital)
During the winter of 2017 Erik Gärdefors of GRIFT invited DRAUGURINN to perform at his special and unique harvest fest TREDINGSRITEN in Hällekis, Sweden on August 4th 2018. Inspired by the harvest theme, the circles of life and death and – as always – the forces of Nature, DRAUGURINN created an exclusive live ritual for this occasion only. With percussion and meditative chanting, the four songs invites the listener through birth, life and death. Spíra will take you on a journey along the circle of life. Transcend into Spíra and ride the circle of life through the eyes of DRAUGURINN.
Emerge – New Album Released (Required Rate of Return – Digital) Maze is a deceptively complex pair of drone tracks. Emerge creates something that balances the lines between dark ambient and noise very well. With contributions by: elektrojudas, Niku Senpuki, Danijel Zambo, Prinzip Nemesis, and Deep.
Endless Chasm – New Album Released (Chthonic Streams – Cassette/Digital)
“Endless Chasm hails from Lawrence, Kansas with sonic and ritual explorations into the unknown. Saṃsāra Eternal is a contemplative journey into dark tones merging the organic and the synthetic, almost worshipful with an undercurrent of dread.” Read our new review of the album here.
False Mirror – New Album Released (Malignant – CD/Digital)
It’s been 8 long years since the release False Mirror’s highly acclaimed Derelict World, and SIGINT marks the return of one of the giants of the dark ambient genre. Thematically centered around the gathering of intelligence via the interception of signals, SIGINT is an hour long creation of desolate beauty and isolated intricacies, where droning textural flow is incorporated with floating wasteland debris, distant transmissions, and fluid layers of climatic tones. Like all False Mirror’s work, the attention to detail and subtleties are unparalleled, striking a balance between field recordings and synthetic sounds in a perfectly conceptualized harmony of calming warmth and barren isolation.
Flowers For Bodysnatchers – New EP Released (Digital Only)
“Alive With Scars is the prologue mini album to the forthcoming full length album Alive With Scars. This album begins to explore the life long struggle of living in a diseased body. A body slowly being destroyed from the inside out by its own central nervous system. A body that with the passing of time will waste and wither to its own unique sonnet of pain and torment.”
Haft Teppeh – New Album Released (Autarkeia – Cassette/Digital)
“Yume’ is the first full length work by Romanian project Haft Teppeh. We must admit, the way they approach the dark ambient music scene is really impressive. Despite being formed in 2013, the full length is the first material ever released by Haft Teppeh, and it sounds highly professional so far. All the compositions are very complex, skillfully polished and produced. Abstract and massive waves of sound are very dramatic and deep. The whole album seems like a one solid piece. each track floats smoothly, with extremely beautiful and natural transitions from one theme to another. Dark, mysterious and brooding; the tension stays with the listener throughout the whole release. With every new track, after brief moments of quiet, it strikes again with a heavy atmosphere, which keeps you hypnotized and holds you in your place until the very end of the composition. We pledge – Flavius Ion, the mastermind of Haft Teppeh is a truly promising artist whose first release is as impressive as if it would be crafted by Par Bostrom [Kammarheit] or Peter Andersson [Raison d‘Etre].”
Hiemal – New Album Released (Digital Only)
Smooth and highly contemplative melancholic drone ambient with rain recordings.
Recommended for fans of Mount Shrine, SiJ, and other field recording heavy drone projects.
How To Disappear Completely – New Album Released (Digital Only)
“A study in deliberately soothing textures designed to give the listener space to find stillness and collapse into rest – late night lullabies.
How To Disappear Completely presents Mer de Revs III, third installment of our experimental sleep music project. Almost eighty minutes of new music composed and recorded over twelve month period (a song per month), 2017/2018. Recording this album we wanted to keep the same aesthetics as on the last two volumes – simple as possible, minimal amount of gear as possible. Volume III of Mer de Revs is a culmination point of the trilogy and a summary of the first two installments.”
Item Caligo – New Album Released (Digital Only)
Item caligo is a one-man project of Sergey Epifanov. Based in Volgograd. The tracks “Painful Sleep” and “Wishing Only To Die” parts I & II were written especially for the short film “MER” by Hesam Rahmani.
Jinthra – New Album Released (Sombre Soniks – Digital)
“Psychopathy originally meant pathos (suffering) of Psyche (the Soul). Therefore I can also see the Path of Psyche as a way of pathologizing (logos of pathos); an autobiografikal need to understand my daimonikal wounds from a deeper perspective of the Underworld. Let’s pathologize!”
Julia Kent & Jean D.L. – New Album Released (Gizeh – CD/Digital)
“Recorded in Charleroi, Belgium in 2015 during a video installation with Sandrine Verstraete, the music was created using field recordings, processed guitar and cello and serves as a soundtrack to the video of the same name.
The album is an aching, ambient wonderland that ensues beauty at every turn. It was built as a whole and, indeed, should be consumed as a whole. The repetition is hypnotising, a lulling sense of calm entwined in hints of unease that flows seamlessly in and out of sleepy melodies and broken drones. Unfolding over a brief twenty-six minutes, The Great Lake Swallows cannot out-stay its welcome. Everything contained within feels necessary, each movement informing the next, a conversation between two outstanding musicians.”
Kashya – New Album Released (Digital/”name your price”)
Since I first heard Kashya I’ve enjoyed these releases as the last thing I hear before falling off into sleep. The warm drone ambience of this project is always deeply relaxing for me.
Kirill Mazhai – New Album Released (Shimmering Moods – CD/Cassette/Digital)
“This album was made between August 2015 and March 2017, which was in some way a transition period for me. Some life stages ended, some relationships failed, some changes happened. All the tracks on the album are dedicated to several places from those times, that meant or still mean something very special to me. A house by the lake, an apartment on the first floor, a park in the middle of the city – the places that stuck with me for a long time and don’t let go.
It’s a tribute to those times, but also some kind of closure. The album was mostly a reminder to myself that when you feel attached to something in one way or another, you need to keep going, to move forward, that you really don’t belong anywhere. It was a reminder that it’s never too late to move on.”
kj – Preorder Available (Dronarivm – CD/Digital)
“kj’s third album and dronarivm’s 54th release, is a wandering into the dark side of nostalgia — labyrinthian refrains evoke the mind’s tendency to reach for the past.”
L’Égarement d’Esprit – New Album Released (Digital Only) Laudanum Euphoria is a mind-bending new project from the man behind Embers Below Zero and the Santa Sangre zine. It’s as if he’s blended something like Cities Last Broadcast – The Humming Tapes with Blood Axis & Les Joyaux De La Princesse – Absinthe – La Folie Verte, topped off with some old film samples. Highly recommended and “name your price”!
LVMMVX – New Album Released (Danvers State – Cassette/Digital)
“Debut release from Josh Yelle (KINTAAN, HARD DRUG)’s solo “chamber noise” outfit. Heavily layered, looped, and rhythmic dark ambience is enunciated by the cavernous pounding on the hull of a beat up cello. 40 minutes of miniature horror film scores devoid of any light or hope.” Purchase cassette here.
Maha Pralaya – New Album Released (Noctivagant – CD/Digital)
Ritual dark ambient project Maha Pralaya returns with another devastatingly dark ritual on their latest album Nataraja Tandavam, which is now available on Noctivagant.
Manifesto – New Album Released (Reverse Alignment – CD/Digital)
“Magnus Zetterberg is returning with a new haunting opus of darkest industrial ambient accompanied by Axel Torvenius wonderful art. Hive is a ghastly exhibition into the foul world of humanity. A soundtrack to devastation.”
Mount Shrine – New Album Released (Cryo Chamber – CD/Digital)
Mount Shrine (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) serves us a warm and inviting ambient album. Rain pounds the temple as you look out across snowy mountains from a lotus position. A wet furred hare seeks refuge beside you, curious about the kettle of hot tea that rests at your side. A distress call led you here, transmitted to a frequency on your Ham radio. The journey here was long and filled with majestic sights. Isolated villages, melting snow in forgotten valleys, the robed order of the silent all calmed your mind. The rolling fog followed you every step of the way to enlightenment.
Recommended for lovers of subtle field recordings and sleep ambient. Warm, inviting and atmospheric. Best enjoyed with a cup of hot beverage on a rainy day. Read our review of the album here.
Murcof – Preorders Available (Glacial Movements – CD/Digital)
“In Lost in Time, two parallel narratives intertwine: the first follows a helmet-clad, faceless horse and rider adrift in an indeterminate landscape of ice and snow, quite literally lost in time and space, while the second seems to allude to a strange scientific experiment. Lost in Time plunges us into perpetual renewal, each ending leading to a new beginning. The protagonists – two beings bound by a certain mutual dependence – are forever trapped in a time loop where life and death ceaselessly rotate.The use of what are almost exclusively black figures against white landscapes produces a menacing, otherworldly atmosphere that is also stunningly beautiful. The original soundtrack of the film, blends the aria of the Goldberg Variations sung by Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal with a composition by Murcof. The soundtrack also exists as an autonomous work entitled Lost in Time (Goldberg Experienced.05). Coproduction Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and Casino Luxembourg. With the support of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the Canada Council for the Arts.”
Murderous Vision – New Album Released (Live Bait Recording – CD/Digital)
“Upon returning from a successful gig in Helsinki, Finland several inspired late night recording sessions began to take shape and morph into something a bit more cohesive. Voided Landscapes is a bleak journey into the paths of dark industrial and minimal death ambient. Using an arsenal of electronics, field recordings, strings and less conventional items, Voided Landscapes is a shifting beast that covers a lot of ground, but stays on a course that will not disappoint long time followers of the project. Features guest appearances by Robert O’Lexa (Vengeance Space Quartet), Pauline Lombardo and Rebecca Potter (Both of Cunting Daughters). Packaged in a 6 panel digisleeve with photography by Andy Henry that is printed on heavy uncoated retro paper stock.”
North Atlantic Drift – New Album Released (Sound in Silence – CDr/Digital)
“Departures, Vol. 2 is in line with last year’s Departures, Vol. 1., showcasing North Atlantic Drift’s atmospheric side of minimal ambient and presenting eight new impressive tracks in a running time of about 50 minutes. Moving away from the melodic post-rock orientation of their earlier releases, North Atlantic Drift have stripped away most of the percussive elements, glockenspiel and more prominent guitars and have achieved a captivating sound of subtle textures, overlapping tones and slowly evolving soundscapes. Built around washes of sustained and reverberant electric guitars, warm and comforting synths and glacial drones, and expertly mastered by George Mastrokostas (aka Absent Without Leave), Departures, Vol. 2 is an intimate, relaxing album with a truly immersive quality, bringing to mind the works of Brian Eno, Stars Of The Lid, Loscil and other artists of similar mien.”
The Penitential Station – New Album Released
(Other Forms of Consecrated Life – Digital Only)
“Plaintive music for the ‘ghostly’ darkness described by the anonymous author of ‘The Cloud of Unknowing’, blinded from what is both above and below; isolated from the spiritual and earthly worlds. Partially composed of fragments from the masses of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594), the music itself seems cut off – as if heard from great distance – a faint and elusive refrain of ecstatic communion, endlessly repeated but never quite resolved.”
Peter Andersson (raison d’être) – New Album Released (Old Europa Cafe/Yantra Atmospheres – CD/Digital)
“Timewaves presents moments of history in a flow of eternity. Each moment may or may not be clearly connected with each other. But when examining the past, does not every moment intertwine with some other moments, and suddenly everything is connected with everything in strange and unclear ways.
In Timewaves it is clear that those moments presented on the album are bound to civilisation. Is it our civilisation, or someone elses, or just a dream? We don’t know. It may be even a nightmare. All we know for sure is that the clock is ticking. But ticking for what? Good times or bad times? Hope or fear?
Peter Andersson (Sweden) is most known for the dark ambient project raison d’être and a bunch of other projects like Stravtm Terror, Atomine Elektrine and Bocksholm (a collaboration project with Deutsch Nepal). Sometimes he releases albums under his personal name, mostly music for museum exhibitions and short movies. The majority of the tracks on Timewaves has been used in various exhibitions in some Swedish museums. This time the music is a bit darker, more industrial and experimental than previous exhibition albums from Peter Andersson, but still enigmatic.”
protoU – New Album Released (Cryo Chamber – CD/Digital)
“Sasha further explores the themes of her collaboration album Earth Songs. While her album Khmaoch explored the roots of civilization and The Edge of Architecture probed into the future of the modern age, Echoes of the Future guides us in taking our final steps to leave Earth.
A deep space ambient album that invites you to take part in the discovery of cosmic anomalies and abandoned space stations in search of a new home.”
Ruptured World – New Album Released (Cryo Chamber – CD/Digital)
“Ruptured World is the cinematic ambient project of Alistair Rennie (UK), who is also known as an author of Weird Fantasy and Horror Fiction. Exoplanetary features fragments of transmissions amid sonorous and distorted interpretations of narrative events as the mission faces up to the challenges of off-world exploration and the inescapable fact that, on Proxima Centauri b, the human visitors are not alone.
Cosmic horror combines with ambient evocations of a real-life futuristic drama in the face of alien estrangement and a prevailing aura of existential persecution. Radio transmissions are superseded by melodic inferences of atmospheric detail and the otherworldly drones of cosmic landscapes and the mysterious twilight roaming grounds of the Krivren.
The Exoplanetary CD package comes with a documentary booklet featuring a 16-page executive summary of the mission’s objectives and a detailed profile of the planet’s geophysical characteristics, as well as its inherent dangers. Digital Booklet also included with download.
It offers a unique listening and reading experience that integrates sound orchestration with speculative dark fiction to present a quasi-scientific account of future possibilities rendered in sound.
Recommended for fans of cinematic dark ambient and spoken word.
You can read our interview here, and our review here.
Sacra Fern – Preorders Available (Black Mara – CD/DVD/Cassette/Digital)
“Protected by forest spirits, shining in the rays of magic fern, this stone has absorbed all the power of the Sun. It will open doors to a world of magic in the shortest night of the year for who follows his own willpower.”
Sana Obruent – New Album Released (Digital Only)
Sana Obruent delivers another hauntingly dark release, this time a ghostly affair entitled Songs about Death and Redemption.
The Serpent – New Album Released (Noctivagant – CD/Digital)
The inspiration of this dark ritualistic ambient album has been the story of Ani’s soul passing through the Egyptian underworld – Duat as well as the soul’s voyage in general through the dark realm of the dead, judgement and test. The conceptual background is being expressed in a way which aims to progressively narrate a story regarding the stages of the after-death experience as mentioned in the ancient Egyptian texts which is deeply tied to a wide variety of the mythos and tradition of ancient religions and Orders.
Silent Vigils – New Album Released (Home Normal – CD/Digital)
Molenbrook, Mossigwell, Zwartewall, Fieldem… places neither here nor there; half in the world, half in the mind. We began this project as an exchange of gestures across the water, a dialogue motivated by mutual respect and revolving around our shared love of the minimal, the graceful and the understated. We completed it on 23rd March 2017 – the day of the Westminster attack, one year to the day after the Brussels bombings. These four pieces have become our personal dedications to the quiet strength of blended culture, free thinking and open borders. Silent Vigils.
Skadi – New Album Released (Digital Only)
Finally we see a brilliant new release by the well respected dark ambient project Skadi, founded in 2001 by Alexander Leßwing. The project combines dark ambient scapes with ethnic and ritual passages.
In a place where the heart is not allowed to flourish its emotions, darkness will grow.
In a place where the soul is not held with care, only emptiness remains.
SiJ – New Album Released (ΠΑΝΘΕΟΝ – Digital [currently])
In memory of Dmitriy Vasilyev.
Featuring Singing bowls by Akoustik Timbre Frekuency and additional samples by Erik Osvald of Keosz. “A new installment in Shrine series, exploring deep minimalistic sound structures and imaginary landscapes. Inward journey through the memory, dreams, and contemplation on things which are inevitable.”
Sysselmann – Re-issue of The Northern Chronicles
I reviewed this brilliant debut here last year and really love the physical copy, I’m pleased to see it’s back in stock! A word from Sysselmann:
“Dear listeners, closing in on two years after the original release date we still get requests to buy this cd, finally we can happily announce that Sysselmann’s debut album is coming back into stock. We are very humbled by the continuous support for Sysselmann. Gorgeous vinyl style CD, booklet + some extra goodies for you not previously available…”
Tapes & Topographies – New Album Released (Simulacra – CD/Digital) Insomnia Drones seems to share similarities to both the drone heavy releases like Fathoms as well as the more field recording laden Signal to Noise, beautifully melancholic, highly recommended, under-rated artist.
Taphephobia & Bleak Fiction – New EP Available
(Reverse Alignment – Digital)
“Reverse Alignment has always been about making good relations and keeping artists long term. It seem to have been working with Taphephobia at least.
Leaving the ship when moving to Greytone in 2010 and leveling up to Cyclic Law 2013, the guy behind the strings; Ketil Søraker, returns once more to the label. We´re happy to see Taphephobia prosper, happy to meet again with a dear old friend.
This time we present a collaboration with Ezequiel Lobo’s Bleak fiction that’ve been releasing on m.i.s.t. records and GV Sounds from 2012 onwards. A new face to the label, another welcome. Nuuk is here.”
Theo Calis – New Album Released (Petroglyph – Digital)
Inspired by the beautiful wildlife sounds and pictures of Glacier Bay. And the commitment of NPS to preserve nature. Stop global warming!
Tim Six – New Album Released (ΠΑΝΘΕΟΝ – CDr/Digital)
It is generally believed that noise is the creation of human hands, while nature is even more full of noise simply of a different kind. Such an actual problem of “sound ecology” as opposes urban noise to either sounds of nature, or just silence – while silence in nature is not so easy to find. This record can be considered a non-dualistic approach to this problem. This album, in the best traditions of drone music, consists of one track made of field recordings. Night rustles and bird trills collected in the woods near Ivanovo, Russia, remote city hum and agricultural works in the Crimean steppe, recordings of bird nests in an abandoned feed mill and all sorts of audio situations along the irrigation canals of Crimea – all this is repeatedly layered on each other and built in gradually developing composition. Presence of Noise is not a verdict but a reality within which we exist. The fact that nature is full of noise does not negate the problem of “sound pollution” of the urban environment, but gives an illustrative example for the reconstruction of urban acoustic environment “in the image and likeness” – striving for softer forms, smoother corners and fluent transitions of the acoustic landscape. Infinity of aural interpretations in the simplicity of everyday noise.
Vacuum Templi – New Album Released (Weird Tapes/Svbterrean – Cassette/Digital)
“God is always the shadow and the nightmare of the human being,even though we’ve have just passed the post-human phase.
Despite our civilization level,religion is surviving and give us our daily fear towards life and death.
“Death Chamber Musick” is an anti-religion sound collage composed by seven spells,recorded with (un)sacred reversed samples,ruined organ and anguishing synths.
The pessimistic and blasphemic mood reign in this new record,where the catholic religion and the figure of the suffering Christ are the mirror of the human destiny.
The ideas of religion and faith are raped and the hopeness for Human being is destructed,in a liturgic black reversed-mass recorded on magnetic tapes.”
Valanx – Pre-order For New Album (Reverse Alignment – CD/Digital)
“Water is flooding. Land is obsolete. Scattered tribes rule their part of the world. Struggling. Adapting. Tidelands is Valanx soundtrack to a post-apocalyptic future where water is abundant and the circumstances of living has changed radically.”
VelgeNaturlig – New Album Released (Winter-Light – CD/Digital)
“Having previously released the full length Opalescent Pust on our label, the Portuguese sound sculpture VelgeNaturlig returns with an album of deep, immersive ambient drones – Kundalini.
On Kundalini, Ivo Santos presents us with an album, layered with a rich tapestry of dense drones, reverberating sub-bass and circulating processed sounds, cleverly woven together with field recordings.
As with most, if not all of VelgeNaturlig’s work, on Kundalini the tracks flow together as one, creating vast musical landscapes to traverse within the minds eye. The music weaves an infinite pathway between the light and the dark, sometimes isolating but always keeping the listener engaged. Kundalini is an album of true awakening, invoking a clash of primordial sounds and energies. Let the currents flow…”
On the Periphery
Antechamber – New Album Released (Instruments of Discipline – Vinyl/Digital)
“Antechamber’s debut explores the ghost architecture of industrial music, etheric and oppressive in its suspension.
The newest alias from Mahk Rumbae a.k.a. Codex Empire and one half of Industrial act Konstruktivists, Antechamber sees a spacious almost dub influenced realm being explored, a dark-ambient nether in which lurching rhythmic giants consume the fragments of their composition, as though some military exercise had arrived at the collapsed edge of history and remained forever there suspended, war-games in the ether, anodic purgatory.
The LP is at times drone-scape, at times big-room stepping; white noise carved into shuddering rhythms & barrel bomb impacts; Antechamber’s debut shows a producer who is able to both summon and resuscitate worlds with only the bare minimal elements, a contained violence and a violent restraint.”
Ashtoreth – Second Disc In Sleep FUSE series (mini cdr/Digital)
“Ciuthach is one twenty three minute atmospheric drone folk masterpiece, based of a Scottish folklore creature myth of the Ciuthach.”
BRUTALISM – Debut Single Released (Anathemata Editions – 7″ square lathe)
“Deterritorialization. Intimate Brutality at the very moment of participation in surrounding nature.”
Debut of Atmospheric-black-metal inspired by Brutalist architecture from Terence of Locrian. Full-length The Charged Void available 2019 from Annihilvs and Cloister Recordings.
Clearlight & Owl – New Album Released (306- CD/Cassette/Digital)
306 recordings is proud to present Inverted Horizon by Clearlight & Owl. A deep piece of ambient music which takes you into your deepest thoughts, traveling between darkness and enlightment. A total of 10 tracks spanning 68 minutes, which take you to the deepest, darkest & inverted horizon.
Ionophore – New Album Released (Malignant – Digital/CD[delayed])
Ionophore is the project of the Bay Area/London-based multi-instrumentalists Leila Abdul-Rauf, Jan Hendrich, and Ryan Honaker. The trio weave dark electronics and neoclassical soundscapes with heavy drones, seamlessly melding the orchestral strings of Honaker, the horns and voice of Abdul-Rauf, and electronic interpretations of Hendrich. Whetter is the follow up to 2016’s well-received Sinter Pools, and continues along a similar trajectory; gauzy, ethereal ambience augmented by late night textural smear, rhythmic pulsations, and abstract, affected glitch, drifting in and around and through each other in hazy patterns, warm and enveloping, pulsing and reverberating, an indistinct blur… almost tangible, but ineffable.
Keosz – New Album Released (Vinyl/Digital) No Future Vol:2 shows a more beat-driven, slow-tempo, bass-laden version of what we know from Keosz’ Cryo Chamber releases. The production of this one is really epic, highly recommended for late night driving or other inward adventures.
Kintaan – New Album Released (Annihilvs/Danvers State – CD/Cassette)
“The long awaited official debut from Providence, RI’s premier extradimensional post-music trio. A disgusting mix of industrial tinged noise and sparse, dissonant doom metal with hints of psychedelia spread across four tracks, totaling 31 minutes. Thick, saturated production battling minimal, jarring composition. This is living, breathing terror from absolute masters of their craft.” Purchase cassette here: https://danversstate.storenvy.com/products/24588543-kintaan-untitled
Michael Idehall – New Album Released (raubbau – Digital)
“to those who enjoyed michael idehall’s ‘prophecies of the storm’ release on ant-zen, raubbau is proud to present a further outing of this outstanding artist’s self-coined ‘seancetronica’ sound exploration – a one-of-a-kind combination of death industrial, apocalyptic tunes with a subliminal song structure and dark, structured ambience. once again the swedish producer/performer evokes a crude, vicious force carrying intense tempers of menace, aggression and sadness with a strong streak of esoteric themes and personal poetics shaping the mood and tone.
Idehall’s rich baritone intoning ritual chants and secretive whispers with a solemn atmosphere, highlight the arcane bent of the heavy electronics pushed with striking tautologic sequences. from sparse throbs and slow paced beats to cinematic ambient elements and industrial overtones, ‘aion reborn’ displays a captivating mixture of alluring vocals, throbbing bass, pounding beats, ominous drones and metallic tremors.”
Morego – New Album Released (D.M.T. – Vinyl/Digital)
Similar to the above release by Keosz, we have a side-project of a well known dark ambient artist, (in this case Morego Dimmer of Xerxes The Dark) creating crystal clear production on glitchy bass-laden tracks, predominately with accompanyied by various percussions. For the dark ambient fan, this (along with Keosz) is an album that will be perfect for those times when you want to hear something much more active, but don’t want to sacrifice the brilliant craftsmanship of a top-notch dark ambient artist. Highly recommended.
N.K.R.T – “Cantus II” from Confiteor
The next release of Cold Dark Matter Records (Red Harvest, Ende, Fange) is a collaboration with NKRT, the ambient and ritual project of Frater Stéphane (Rosa Crux, Spleen XXX). “The equinox, the moment when everything is extremely ephemeral, Confiteor is a rite of repentance to all the sordid things to raise his soul to the summit”
For lovers of Zero Kama / Abruptum / Gregorian chant
Paleowolf – New Album Released (Digital Only)
Fifth full length album by Paleowolf. Archetypal stands as a powerful, monolithic fusion of ancient prehistoric archetypes that have been shaping and challenging Mankind since its dawn of the planet.
Powerful and energetic tribal drum-works are pumping the adrenaline and awakening the inner strength of a Warrior, Shaman and Survivor archetypes. Shamanic chants and voices that echo through timeless caves and archaic forests are calling and praising the divine forces of Nature. The tribe grunts and shouts to charge the collective body, mind and spirit with the eternal energies of the Wilderness.
As the charge completes and fires slowly extinguish, the ancestors enter the Old Dream, while moonlight is reflecting the shadows of giant megaliths in the distance. Archetypal is definitely one of the strongest and most intense Paleowolf releases so far.
Rafael Anton Irisarri – Preorder Available (Umor Rex – Cassette/Digital)
“Rafael Anton Irisarri continues his string of post-minimalist releases with his third for Umor Rex: El Ferrocarril Desvaneciente. While composed as an ode to an overnight train journey through Spain he took many years ago, the music picks up sonically where his previous album Sirimiri left off. Irisarri focuses on deploying sonic cycles throughout these four shorter pieces, basing much of this sweeping ambience around looped sounds and distant pulses. The sound is however kept in a state of forward motion and constant evolution, invoking the slowly rumbling night train that inspired it —not to mention its cargo of misfits and travelers. Irisarri’s skill, set as a manipulator of minimal sound input, is at full strength here, imbuing even shorter pieces such as “El Espectro Electromagnético,” with chasms slowly cresting drama. The phantasmagoria of “Un Saltador” was even composed as a departure for him, toying with synths and pedals in a “modular kind of way,” letting an experiment unfold with minimal interaction.”
Randal Collier-Ford – New EP Released (Digital Only)
“The first chapter in a new branching storyline, featuring the newest protagonist, ɒm.OS. Season One will serve as the thematic and musical push into this layer, tying together the roots of the ‘main’ storyline.”
Self Harmony – New EP Released (Digital Only)
An interesting combination of a lot of different styles which the artist describes as: “Pan-Dimensional Night Bass, for Silver Cord Cutters and Mystery School Dropouts.” This seems about right. Definitely should be a nice midnight drive soundtrack.
Understated Theory – New Album Released (Sparkwood – CD/Digital)
“With each of the two half behind the project bringing new perspectives from their respective solo-endeavours to the drawing table – Tom Moore (Dead Melodies) and Colin Crighton (nil.co, Sorrow Floats) –
Understated Theory leaves the vast expanse of treacherous seas (Critical Drift EP and Juxtapparition) to continue their journey across dry land. The desolation blues remains however, as we follow in the footsteps of what might be one of the few survivors roaming a post-apocalyptic wasteland, commonly just referred to as The Shadowlands.”
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From the first seconds of Exoplanetary, the new Cryo Chamber release by Ruptured World, I knew this was going to be a unique and incredibly entertaining album. I was not wrong. As I found out more about the man behind the project, its breadth and attention to detail became more understandable. I will preface the interview with this “about me” from Rennie’s Amazon page:
Alistair Rennie is author of the weird, sword and debauchery novel, BleakWarrior. He has published weird fantasy and horror fiction, essays and poetry in The New Weird anthology, Weird Tales magazine, Fabulous Whitby, Electric Velocipede, Mythic Delirium, Pevnost, Schlock Magazine, Horror Without Victims, Weird Fiction Review and Shadowed Realms.
He was born and grew up in the North of Scotland, has lived for ten years in Italy, and now lives in Edinburgh in the South of Scotland. He holds a first class Honours Degree in Literature from the University of Aberdeen and a PhD in Literature from the University of Edinburgh. He is a time-served Painter and Decorator and a veteran climber of numerous hills and mountains in the Western Highlands, the Cairngorms and the Italian Dolomites.
Michael Barnett: So, I want to get this stupid question out of the way first! While considering Exoplanetary for review, I felt some connections to The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951), googling it to make sure I had the correct title, I notice the main star is Michael Rennie. Any relation?
Alistair Rennie: That’s a great question! Unfortunately, the answer is no, we’re not related. Though my dad used to claim that we were. There’s a good chance I could be related to the alien Klaatu, however. The true star of the film.
Michael: On that same topic, what were some of the foundational influences on this project? Did you get inspiration from some of those old sci-fi films, like the one aforementioned?
Alistair: Yes, I did, as well as from elsewhere. I think it started off more influenced by 80s classics like Alien and John Carpenter’s The Thing, at least at the stage of writing, and with a strong Lovecraftian influence, too. But, when it came to recording, the older archaic broadcasting style came out in a very spontaneous and natural way, and I liked the way it blended unusually with the more modern electronic soundscapes and drones of the music.
Films like Them, War of the Worlds (also the musical version) and Forbidden Planet, and also the kind of narration you sometimes get in the old Hammer Horror films – they’re definitely in there.
Michael: Before we get into your new album on Cryo Chamber, I thought you could tell us a bit about the writing side of your artistic journey. I am looking forward to reading BleakWarrior, which seems like it will be quite the tale, if the review snippets in your promo are any indication. I will assume the majority of readers here will be aware of your music before your writing. Would you like to tell us a short description of BleakWarrior in your own words?
Alistair: It’s a tricky one to describe because it was very experimental and incorporates a range of influences, including Sword and Sorcery, Manga/Anime, Cyberpunk, Elizabethan Revenge Tragedies, Ancient Greek and Celtic heroic verse, violent westerns, Classical Chinese Literature. It’s an attempt to blend the extremes of pulp and literary elements of fiction and turn them into something that combines sensationalist sex and violence with metaphysics. I tend to describe it as sword and debauchery, though that downplays some of the more philosophical content that might be in there. In some ways, it’s also a study of what happens when we act or exist outside of a moral framework. If I were to summarise it in strictly generic terms, though, I’d call it dark weird fantasy, with significant SF and horror characteristics thrown into the mix.
Michael: Is the world in this book something that you would think dark ambient fans will find interesting?
Alistair: Without wishing to be presumptuous, I think so, yes. There are some very dark elements to the story and its characters. It’s very bleak, as the title suggests. But there’s also some over-the-top mayhem and humour that’s more black metal than dark ambient. There are also parts of the novel that focus on the natural world and ideas relating to the metaphysics of physical nature, which I think is clearly a theme of dark ambient music on a number of levels. You can see that with many of the artists on the Cryo Chamber label.
Michael: Would you like to tell readers a few recommendations in case they are interested in reading your other works?
Alistair: I think dark ambient fans might be interest in what’s been called New Weird fiction and, in particular, in an anthology called the New Weird which features a chapter from what later became BleakWarrior. It’s a ground-breaking anthology in many ways and features writers like Michael Moorcock and Clive Barker, Brian Evenson, Michael Cisco, Jeffrey Ford, Jeffrey Thomas, KJ Bishop – authors who, I think, would be interesting to fans of dark ambient.
In my own case, I have a story that’s coming out later this year in an anthology called Mechanical Animals to be released by Hex Publishers. The story I’ve contributed, called “The Island Brushed By Ghosts”, is set in the northwest of Scotland and deals with subjects pertaining to the nature of existence, as well as nature itself. It’s more cerebral and less frenzied than some of the other stuff I’ve written. If you prefer the mayhem, though, I had a recent story in an anthology called “DOA III” which was released by Blood Bound Books. It’s a sort of surreal slash horror SF far future story. Very dark! But also with elements of humour.
Michael: Which came first, your fiction writing or music production?
Alistair: That’s a very good question in the sense that they kind of evolved together. Music came first in terms of actually creating songs, finished works, as it were. With writing, I started off writing song lyrics and poetry. Fiction, writing stories, came much later, in my late teens, and writing stories that were actually completed and presentable came later still. But I believe that there’s a very close connection between music and writing, which is stating the obvious, really. Often, with writing, you’re striving to find harmony and rhythm, not only in the prose, but in the proportions of the story-telling, the narrative itself, to create a unified organic whole out of something (language) that is essentially chaotic and uncontrolled. Music does that, but with sounds instead of written symbols and utterances. And, of course, language itself is inherently musical.
Michael: How have these two elements been able to come together for you in the Ruptured World project? Did it originate as a story idea, or was it always meant to be this spoken-word blended with dark ambient format from its inception?
Alistair: I think what came first was the idea of using radio transmissions – which I find to be deeply mysterious, an area of activity where the technology and mystical elements of nature come together within the context of sound. I’ve always been fascinated by radio, especially by short wave radio. I remember when I was younger, before there was an internet or even home computers, I used to tune into voices and music from other parts of the world and found it incredibly exciting and amazing to be able to tap into the atmosphere of other countries. It still fascinates me today, even while it has been dramatically superseded by the internet.
Michael: Have you worked in other styles of music, or is Ruptured World your first foray into the musical world?
Alistair: I’ve been involved in music since I was twelve years old. I started off playing in a punk band and later played in an indie band that was fairly well known locally in the north of Scotland. And I also grew up playing folk music, which is not uncommon for musicians from Scotland, where there’s a very strong and innovative folk music scene. But, alongside all this, and right from the start, me and one of my friends had formed our own music project, which is very much the origins of what is now Ruptured World. We were influenced by bands like Bauhaus, the Virgin Prunes, the Cure, the Birthday Party, Japan and David Sylvian. There was just the two of us. We couldn’t find a third band member who shared the same tastes or ideas as us, so we couldn’t do a standard three or four piece thing. So we improvised. I had a Casio keyboard and we had guitars. We used all sorts of other things to generate noise, everything from biscuit tins to crash helmets, often using our voices as sound effects. And we also did spoken word. I still have old recordings on cassettes. More recently, we revived some of our old songs, did new versions of them using the technology of today. It was wonderful. The music is dark, sometimes haunting and melodic, but also low-fi and deliberately crude and primitive in terms of sound and style.
Michael: You performed all the vocal parts on Exoplanetary, and I assume Frontiers of Disorder as well? I, personally, love your vocal performance on these albums. Have you heard things like this in the past that inspired you? Or is this an idea you came up with to combine your loves of music and storytelling?
Alistair: There are definitely precedents for combining narration and music that have no doubt influenced me. There is nothing I can point to directly as an influence in this particular case. But I think War of the Worlds is certainly there, and audio recordings of poetry I’ve listened to over the years. And some of David Sylvian’s music where music and spoken words are combined. I also recall an old album a friend of mine had, one of those Dungeons and Dragons albums they used to produce, where a D&D story is narrated alongside the music. When you hear music and storytelling done together, I think it’s a very natural combination and, indeed, one that occurs every time we watch visual narratives realised in film. We forget that film is also an audio as well as a visual medium. I suppose, in many ways, that’s what Exoplanetary aims to be – a narrative and soundtrack conceived as a film but rendered and delivered through the medium of sound only.
Michael: Will you be continuing to work in this format on future releases?
Alistair: Yes, I think that’s a certainty. It’s a fascinating and extremely enjoyable challenge to integrate the musical and spoken word elements together. And trying to find ways of delivering the spoken narration, and do so effectively, is an extremely enjoyable if often difficult thing to aim for. And, being a writer, for me it’s just the obvious and natural thing to do, I think.
Michael: On the technical side, do you prefer working with digital soundscapes or do you incorporate modular synths or other such equipment into the mix?
Alistair: I tend to work principally with digital soundscapes combined with live materials gained from different sources and approaches, often through sampling where I take live recordings of instruments or objects and sounds derived from various places, and using them all as part of the digital tableaux. I have a very experimental approach, often unconventional, which is also true of my writing, and I try to explore those areas which are off-piste, as it were.
One approach I’m seeking to develop now derives from an interest I have in ideas relating to the “genius loci” or spirit of place. This is a literary term that, among other things, refers to the specific conditions or essence of a particular place or geographic location. I’m looking to do live recordings in specific locations using instruments and devices channeled and amplified through conventional hardware, then integrated into the soundscape of the purely digital environment. So, it’s trying to take the essence and evocation of a particular place and preserve it in the alternative digital universe, as it were. Not an easy thing, but something to aim for!
Michael: If you used many field recordings on Exoplanetary, what was the process like capturing these sounds? Were you able to work with some sound banks or did you take field recording expeditions?
Alistair: I use only field recordings, precisely for the reasons given above. It’s the fascination of the specificity of the sound and the particular place or conditions in which it was conceived and recorded. The active participation in the process from start to finish has a strong fascination for me. Not that I don’t think sound banks are useful. They are a valuable and viable resource. And, for me, the rule is to use anything and everything that works for the creation of the sound or music, so a certain magpie instinct is necessary for gathering sounds and adapting them to the creative process. But, in my own case, the fascination requires me to follow the goal of capturing a unique essence and trying to integrate it into the overall composition. I suppose that might sound somewhat airy fairy! But I think anything that injects your music with an additional sense of purpose is worth pursuing. It will ultimately lead to better results in being driven by the conviction of an established methodology.
Michael: You’ve mentioned previously that you are an avid climber, it seems you’ve reached the summit of a good number of mountains around the world. Do you have a particular love of nature or is this more a physical drive for you? Do you think these excursions in nature lead to a deeper understanding of this dark ambient genre?
Alistair: The love of nature I think is the overriding passion, but I also relish the physical contact with the natural world and the physical effort it requires of you. Walking in mountains, in heightened terrain that changes your visual perspective of the world, is exhilarating for all sorts of reasons. You see the world, quite literally, in a different way, in the way it actually is. You see how the contours lie, how the habitable spaces are often actually small pockets or strips of land surrounded by hostile terrain. The close contact with weather conditions is always a great source of inspiration for me, and also the fear you feel when you’re faced with raw nature.
And I think these are facets of our experience which are very much at the heart of the dark ambient coterie of themes. Importantly, dark ambient doesn’t deal solely with the beauty and spiritual amplitude of nature, which are ably and admirably covered by many artists in the ambient and new age genres, for example. Dark ambient has a preoccupation with the more menacing aspects of nature, with its innate power and mysterious forces which, while crudely scientific, are nevertheless suggestive of something greater. And I think this is where we receive a sense of awe that causes us to look on nature with a primitive response we cannot summarise in words. Hence, we resort to music and sounds as a means of expressing it, which is very much the territory of dark ambient.
Dark ambient has a preoccupation with the more menacing aspects of nature, with its innate power and mysterious forces which, while crudely scientific, are nevertheless suggestive of something greater.
You find in old mythologies that humans, when confronted by gods, must shield their eyes because, if they don’t, they will be driven mad by the beauty and terror of the deity they look upon. I think dark ambient is a form of music that dares to look upon the gods and seeks to reiterate what it sees through the language of sounds.
Michael: What would be your dream project? If you could secure funding for any sort of project?
Alistair: It would have to be something that combined music with landscape. The Austrian musician, Manu Delago, recently led an expedition of 7 musicians into the Alps where they recorded music to be made into an album and film, called Parasol Peak. They recorded songs acoustically as they ascended through the various stages of their journey, and the results are incredible. So, doing something similar, but using electronic means of music production, would definitely be a dream project for me. And, to be honest, I don’t think it would require a huge amount of funds, so I may well go for it sometime soon! The problem would obviously be the need to generate power for electronic devices, but I’m sure there’d be a way.
Musician Paul Winter did a similar thing when he recorded music for an album in the Grand Canyon back in the 1980s. He and his musicians rafted down the river to find a spot to record music that would capture the echo generated by the canyon walls. Again, I would like to undertake a similar expedition with the objective of creating an electronic dark ambient extravaganza!
Michael: I’ll end on a bright note, how do you imagine Earth to look 100 years from now?
Alistair: Rain, rain, nothing but rain. Lots of gloom. No sunlight. Humans will evolve into vampires. A bit like Scotland during the summer, really.
Michael: Thank you very much for your time Alistair, I’ll leave the last words to you!
Alistair: Thank you, Michael! It’s been great to be in This Is Darkness. I very much wish you and your readership a prodigious abundance of lasting wellness!
01. An Outline of a Memory
02. Just Below the Hot Surface
Endless Chasm is a dark/ritual/noise ambient artist out of Lawrence, Kansas. Since their first release in 2015, Endless Chasm is keeping a pretty steady release schedule, with roughly two full-lengths dropping per year. Previous releases have been hosted by labels including: Big Pharma Records, Lurker Bias and Endless Landscapes of Decay. Saṃsāra Eternal is brought to us by Chthonic Streams, a label which predominately releases works by it’s label head Derek Rush (COMPACTOR, Dream Into Dust, A Murder of Angels). Though, Rush will occasionally find an album which fits the framework of his aesthetic goals. Saṃsāra Eternal is one such release, in which the artist, much like Rush himself, uses a combination of techniques to conjure a plethora of abstract soundscapes from his electronics, while adding a unique touch to the project, through the addition of field recordings. [We’ve also previously reviewed another excellent release from Chthonic Streams by Hoor-Paar-Kraat which you can read here.]
“An Outline of a Memory” follows a dark drone ambient framework which borders on harsh noise at times. It successfully blends these harsher sounds which remind of artists like Jarl and many of the artists featured on labels such as Endless Landscapes of Decay, with something more meditative. What this combination creates is something I could compare with the recent Altarmang – Void or many of the harsher works on Aural Hypnox. There are great peaks of intense walls of sound, as this pulsating drone shifts from its piercing high pitched register to a calmer more contemplative soundscape, and back again.
“Just Below the Hot Surface” is more in line with the sort of dark ambient I often enjoy. Endless Chasm uses a balanced combination of pulsating analog synth and industrialized field recordings to create a complex atmosphere. We get the feeling of a sort of post-apocalyptic ritual taking place in the catacombs beneath some smoky rusted factory. The depths and complexities of this atmosphere slowly evolve, and likewise slowly reveal their subtle textures over time. The sounds which begin as lifeless mechanical workings evolve into this dark ritual with otherworldly/underworldly voices seeming to be channeled from the metallic clanging.
As the album progresses, and so too as it is replayed, the listener will be forgiven for beginning to second guess their initial intuitions on the sounds and their individual musical elements. Simple drones can morph into monstrous voices, mechanical hammering turns into ritual drumming and back again as the mind is slowly made aware of its surroundings, only to be deceived once again moments later.
Saṃsāra Eternal is released digitally and also in a limited art edition cassette box set. The matte black box includes a red C-30 cassette, 4 art prints which feature photography by Derek Rush (as well as a 5th on the cover of the box), an info card with album credits, a black-on-black sigil, and a red carnation. This presentation again brings to mind the depth and care that we expect from D.I.Y. labels such as Aural Hypnox.
Fans of more digitally-focused, subtle, cinematic dark ambient releases might find Saṃsāra Eternal a little over-bearing at times. But for those that are accustomed to the moments of climactic harshness, you will find an album which is masterfully prepared and worthy of the comparisons made to works on more internationally recognized labels. Endless Chasm has crafted an album I would highly recommend to those that prefer something contemplative/meditative, but also challenging in its delivery. Like any good release in these genres, the depth of these soundscapes will only slowly reveal itself over time, making for an album worth revisiting numerous times.
This is a mix focused on post/death industrial tracks. The mix was sort of inspired by the recent Darkness Descends event in Cleveland, we reviewed the compilation for that event here. There are many newer tracks included as well as a few older ones that I thought fit well into the blend. This one is not dark ambient! A special thanks goes to Andy Grant of The Vomit Arsonist for allowing us to use a currently unreleased live version of his track “Selective Hyperthymesia”! Enjoy at your own risk and share if you care. Thanks for the continued support! You can find links to all the music below the player.
This mix mostly includes older tracks I really enjoy. I wasn’t looking for any particular theme with this one, just something that will encompass a lot of the songs I come back to repeatedly year after year. There are a few new ones included, which I predict will continue to stand the test of time. This one is a bit more active than some others. Not recommended for sleep or other such volume sensitive activities.