Month: March 2020

Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – March 2020

Here are the dark ambient albums that we at This is Darkness are currently listening to – some are new releases, but a few are older gems we’ve just (re)discovered. Please check these out by clicking on the Bandcamp links, and consider supporting the artists. Enjoy!

 

New Risen Throne – The Outside

This album of post-industrial dark ambient is incredible – its dark, cinematic soundscapes providing an audio experience that is simply breathtaking. Both Michael and Rich here at This is Darkness and have had this album on repeat play since they first heard it. Read our full review of the album here.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

NERATERRÆ – Scenes From The Sublime

NERATERRÆ‘s second album, Scenes From the Sublime, is even more impressive than his well-received debut, with ten tracks of dark ambient and drone inspired by visual masterpieces from the world of art. This is a wonderful album, with so many textures and levels of detail to it that each listen is a joy. Read our full review of the album here.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Hiemal – Summoning the Hall of Stars

The latest release from Hiemal features relaxing drone sounds and subtle field recordings… and is almost six hours in length(!) Summoning the Hall of Stars is another drone ambient triumph by the French musician, and is the perfect soundtrack to chill-out to. Read our recent interview with Hiemal here.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

The Last One – Bastards and Brothers

This is an album of seriously eerie and brooding dark ambient from Russia. Drone, dark ambient, and noise elements are expertly combined together to create a sinister soundscape that provides a wonderfully unsettling listening experience. Impressive stuff!

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Apocryphos – Against Civilization

Against Civilization is a guitar-driven dark ambient album that provides the perfect soundtrack to the self-isolation apocalypse… the music is a haunting, melancholic blend of atmospheric ambience and field recordings, and listening to it makes you want to stay inside, turn the lights off and escape from everything.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Ugasanie – Ice Breath of Antarctica

This album of incredibly atmospheric polar ambient was actually released back in March 2018, but since discovering it earlier this month, Rich has been listening to it almost daily. Dark ambient and drones sounds are expertly combined with field recordings of snow storms, blizzards and cracking ice flows, to create a powerful audio experience.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

SVR – Republic

Over the last couple of months, Scottish dark ambient musician SVR has released five albums / EPs, each showcasing fantastic lo-fi electronic drone music. It’s minimalist stuff, but the experimental soundscapes have a depth to them that you can lose yourself in. Wonderful!

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Various Artists – Drone Islands Volume I / II

This impressive collection of drone / ambient drone tracks features a number of well known names from the scene, as well as some lesser known artists. As you’d expect from a compilation album, there is quite a range of musical styles and tones featured across the twenty-five tracks, but there is no filler and nothing here disappoints.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Black Box Memories – Missing Heart Pieces

Missing Heart Pieces is a melancholic album of ambient and dark ambient compositions, overlaid with spoken contributions from a number of the musician’s long lost friends. The resulting pieces of music are all tinged with sadness and regret, yet beautiful. Powerful stuff.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Jinthra – Wotanist Affair

The latest release from Czech ritual artist Jindřich Spilka features four tracks of ritual ambient / drone music that grab the listener by the throat right from the off, and don’t let get until the album has finished. It’s wonderful stuff – dark and heavy, and laden with the soundscapes of ancient otherworldly forces.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Macrogramma – Volume 2

Italian sound designer & composer Macrogramma creates beautiful electronic ambient / drone music, that provide the perfect soundtrack to self-reflection and dreaming. This album is simply mesmerising, and listening to it is an uplifting and life-affirming experience.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Mortemhize – Through the Night

This neoclassical ambient album is evocative and atmospheric, with soaring dark ambient soundscapes complimented by haunting piano work. It’s unsettling in places, sad in others – but all hangs together perfectly to create a unified sense of melancholy. Outstanding!

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Written by Rich Dodgin

New Risen Throne – The Outside – Review

Artist: New Risen Throne
Album: The Outside
Release date: 7 February 2020
Label: Cyclic Law / Old Europa Cafe
Reviewer: Rich Dodgin

Tracklist:
01. The Outside (I)
02. What We Have Seen
03. The Outside (II)
04. Corrosion Of Pillars
05. The Outside (III)
06. The Outside (IV)
07. Birth Of A New Disciple (II)
08. A Vision Of The Hidden (Sysselmann Remix)
09. Echoes From The Loss (Visions Remix)
10. Breath Of Growing Structures (Taphephobia Remix)
11. Humani Nihil (Phantom Ship Remix)
12. Sad Silent Prostrations Before The Monolith (Vestigial Remix)
13. Sigh Of The Soul (Apocryphos Remix)
14. Signs Of The Approaching Wastefulness (II) (New Risen Throne Remix)
15. Withered Regions (TeHÔM Remix)

With New Risen Throne‘s previous releases, project founder Stiehl (Gabriele Panci) established himself as one of the masters of the dark ambient genre, and we’ve been eagerly awaiting a full album of new material since 2011’s Loneliness Of Hidden Structures.

Well, New Risen Throne has rewarded us for our patience, because The Outside is a double album that clocks in at almost 2 hours!

The first part of the album contains 7 cinematic dark ambient / post-industrial tracks, continuing the conceptual soundtrack series that began with 2007’s Whispers Of The Approaching Wastefulness:

After centuries of isolation the human race begins a journey in search of the causes that led to the end of its world, and for the first time it approaches the Structures, new life forms that have developed and evolved in the emptiness of “The Outside”.

Opening track, “The Outside (I)”, is a claustrophobic number, with underlying deep drone sounds accompanied by the echoing of clanging machinery, and distant chanting and sounds of distress. It’s an unnerving start to things, and it lets you know what to expect for the rest of the album. Stiehl describes New Risen Throne as “…cold and desolate soundscapes that will leave you feeling utterly scared and alone…”, and listening to this first track it’s easy to see why.

“What We Have Seen” is less abrasive, but no less unsettling, with hypnotic, repeated soundscapes that wash over you in heavy waves. “The Outside (II)” begins in a similar vein, albeit at a slower, more brooding pace… before things ramp up significantly and all hell breaks loose – as the cacophony increases and becomes downright threatening – and then, mercifully, the noise ebbs away, leaving the listener with a temporary feeling of relief.

Fourth track, “Corrosion Of Pillars”, starts off quietly, but soon morphs into a brutally caustic sonic assault. It’s impressive stuff, and perfectly demonstrates Gabriele Panci’s talents, as he seamlessly blends dark ambient and post-industrial soundscapes together to create something special.

“The Outside (III)” and “The Outside (IV)” are more measured, with less variation in tone and pace. Yet the sense of dread and other-worldliness is as prevalent here as on earlier parts of the album.

The final track of the first part of the album, “Birth Of A New Disciple (II)”, finishes things off beautifully – the post-industrial elements gradually fade away, leaving us with more soothing ambient textures… and yet, there is a real sense that this is just the beginning of something…

 

The second part of the album features 8 older New Risen Throne tracks, revised and remixed by close friends and collaborators: Sysselmann, Visions, Taphephobia, Phantom Ship, Vestigial, Apocryphos and TeHÔM.

Each track has been revisited and re-interpreted, while retaining the underlying essence of the original version. And though these tracks originally appeared on four different albums (see end of this review, for more details),  Stiehl has ensured that they all perfectly compliment each other, as well as the first 7 tracks – meaning that The Outside feels like one whole complete album, rather than one of two halves.

“A Vision Of The Hidden (Sysselmann Remix)” is a slow, almost meditative piece, with chanting and the echo of industrial machinery providing an – almost – calming feel to things. “Echoes From The Loss (Visions Remix)” begins in a similarly mellow vibe, with subtle drone sounds and crashing waves… before the droning becomes increasingly harsher and urgent.

“Breath Of Growing Structures (Taphephobia Remix)” is a wonderful, if disquieting listen, like trying to make sense of shadows on the wall when you’re half asleep… more haunting nightmare than pleasant dream. Fortunately, the next track, “Humani Nihil (Phantom Ship Remix)” is a brighter ambient piece, with the sounds of waves breaking on the shore and uplifting soothing drone and synth sounds.

The next couple of tracks, “Sad Silent Prostrations Before The Monolith (Vestigial Remix)” and “Sigh Of The Soul (Apocryphos Remix)”, are both dark, brooding numbers, with a sense of underlying threat, and melancholy and sadness respectively. “Signs Of The Approaching Wastefulness (II) (New Risen Throne Remix)” is an eerie, minimalist down-tempo piece, that somehow manages to be both chilling and chilled-out at the same time.

Final track, “Withered Regions (TeHÔM Remix)” finishes things off nicely. A bleak tone underscores a number of disturbing elements – including drones, strings, echoes, and mutterings. It starts off relatively gently, but as as the track nears its end, things build to a climactic finale of anguished sub-human roars.

New Risen Throne has released another incredible album with The Outside – its dark, cinematic soundscapes providing an audio experience that is simply breathtaking.

If you’re a fan of intelligent, multi-layered dark ambient / post-industrial music, then you absolutely have to own a copy of this album.

Written by Rich Dodgin

 

Additional album information

  • A Vision Of The Hidden (Sysselmann Remix) – original version on 2011’s Loneliness Of Hidden Structures
  • Echoes From The Loss (Visions Remix) – original version on 2011’s Loneliness Of Hidden Structures
  • Breath Of Growing Structures (Taphephobia Remix) – original version on 2011’s Loneliness Of Hidden Structures
  • Humani Nihil (Phantom Ship Remix) – original version on 2009’s Crossing The Withered Regions
  • Sad Silent Prostrations Before The Monolith (Vestigial Remix) – original version on 2016’s New Risen Throne compilation album
  • Sigh Of The Soul (Apocryphos Remix) – original version on 2009’s Crossing The Withered Regions
  • Signs Of The Approaching Wastefulness (II) (New Risen Throne Remix) – original version on 2007’s Whispers Of The Approaching Wastefulness
  • Withered Regions (TeHÔM Remix) – original version on 2009’s Crossing The Withered Regions

Links

NERATERRÆ – Scenes From the Sublime – Review

Artist: NERATERRÆ
Album: Scenes From the Sublime
Release date: 20 March 2020
Label: Cyclic Law / Liberation Through Hearing
Reviewer: Rich Dodgin

Tracklist:
01. The Last Abjurer (feat. Phelios)
02. Fate Unveiled (feat. Dødsmaskin)
03. In Deafening Silence (feat. Phragments)
04. Thou, Daemon (vocals by Yann Hagimont from Cober Ord and George Zafiriadis from Martyria)
05. Passion Domain (feat. Mount Shrine)
06. The Unfathomable Lives Again (feat. Xerxes The Dark and lithophone by Yann Hagimont from Cober Ord)
07. Doorway to the I (feat. Alphaxone)
08. The Collapse of Matter and Time
09. Towards Oneiric Truths (feat. Leila Abdul-Rauf)
10. Virtues of the Dawn (feat. Shrine)

NERATERRÆ‘s debut album, The Substance of Perception, was a daring work featuring collaborations with some of the finest dark ambient, drone and ritual musicians. The album received rave reviews and quickly established Alessio Antoni as a rising star on the dark ambient scene.

Now, less than a year later, NERATERRÆ releases Scenes From the Sublime, a ten track album inspired by visual masterpieces from the world of art – as Alessio Antoni describes in his own words:

“The album is my personal tribute to some of my favorite painters, to their minds capable of channeling the sublime, to their masterpieces. I realized 10 audial visions, each track is an ode to a different painting.”

It’s a fascinating concept, spanning across over four centuries of masterpieces, with musical collaborations from Alphaxone, Dödsmaskin, Leila Abdul-Rauf, Mount Shrine, Phelios, Phragments, Shrine, Xerxes The Dark, George Zafiriadis from Martyria and Yann Hagimont from Cober Ord.

Opening track, “The Last Abjurer”, is dark, brooding piece – with a cinematic edge, and an underlying sense of growing dread – that wouldn’t sound out of place on the soundtrack for Bladerunner 2049. It’s an incredible start to the album, and when I first heard it previewed a couple of months ago I just knew I was going to have to buy Scenes From the Sublime on the strength of that one track alone.

 

“Fate Unveiled” starts in a similarly punchy vein and, as the track unfolds, it becomes increasingly unsettling and abrasive, before finishing with a more melancholic, almost soothing vibe. It’s impressive emotive stuff, demonstrating perfectly how NERATERRÆ is continually growing and developing as a dark ambient musician.

“In Deafening Silence” is an eerie, chill-inducing minimalist number. Listening to it, it feels like you’re waiting for something horrible to happen… for the horrors just out of sight to step out of the shadows and claim your soul… And in “Thou, Daemon”, with its scratching and screaming, and speaking in other-worldly tongues, it sounds like that is exactly what is happening.

“Passion Domain” is a more comfortable listen, with waves of delicate synth-work, overlaid with subtle clicks and glitches of distortion. “The Unfathomable Lives Again” is similarly chilled – though with a darker undertone – as an echoing soundscape and distant whispering merge together to create a sense of unease and unfathomable strangeness.

“Doorway to the I”, takes things even further, with the sound palette shifting into a starker aural experience provided by repeating drone sounds and shimmers. “The Collapse of Matter and Time” is a – relatively – warmer track, with its hypnotic ticking clock, and a soundscape of groans, industrial clanking and haunting chimes, but one that still conjures up a sense of claustrophobia of the disturbing unknown.

“Towards Oneiric Truths” begins with the sounds of waves breaking on the shore, before the melancholic piano and siren’s calls take over. The resulting track is a sad, thought provoking piece, that carries you along with it, deep in your own thoughts -before the music fades and the sounds of the sea return.

Final track, “Virtues of the Dawn”, finishes the album off beautifully – with an uplifting, inspiring ambience – as waves of synths wash over the listener, giving them a sense of hope that maybe, just maybe, things will be ok.

This is an incredible album, with so many textures and levels of detail that you’ll hear something different every time you listen to it.

Yes, the range of sounds and styles, and the large number of collaborations, does mean that at first, the album doesn’t seem to have an obvious overarching vibe or sound that noticeably links everything together.  NERATERRÆ‘s careful craftsmanship, however, means that with subsequent listens you do get a sense of the whole, as the subtle nuances that connect the 10 tracks begin to come to the fore.

With Scenes From the SublimeNERATERRÆ / Alessio Antoni has done an amazing job of surpassing the high bar he’d set himself with The Substance of Perception, and if you’re a fan of dark ambient you absolutely have to get yourself this album!

Written by Rich Dodgin

 

Additional album information

Produced, mixed and engineered by Alessio Antoni
Mastered by Kjetil Ottersen
Artwork by Anirudh Acharya
Artwork layout by Alessio Antoni

  • The Last Abjurer – Inspired by Zdzislaw Beksinski’s AA72
  • Fate Unveiled – Inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s Visions of the Hereafter
  • In Deafening Silence – Inspired by Ilja Yefimovich Repin’s Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan
  • Thou, Daemon – Inspired by Francisco Goya’s The Exorcism
  • Passion Domain – Inspired by Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog
  • The Unfathomable Lives Again – Inspired by Johann Heinrich Füssli’s The Nightmare
  • Doorway to the I – Inspired by Zdzislaw Beksinski’s AE78
  • The Collapse of Matter and Time – Inspired by Salvador Dalì’s The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory
  • Towards Oneiric Truths – Inspired by Arnold Böcklin’s Isle of the Dead
  • Virtues of the Dawn – Inspired by Joseph Mallord William Turner’s Light and Colour (Goethe’s Theory) • The Morning After the Deluge • Moses Writing the Book of Genesis

Links

Hiemal – Interview

Quick housekeeping: If you want to make sure you know about all new publications on This Is Darkness, the best way is to subscribe to our email list. You can do this by submitting your email address via ‘SUBSCRIBE TO BLOG VIA EMAIL’. You will find this in the right panel as you scroll down slightly. As Facebook is forcing people to spend more and more money for less and less coverage, this is becoming increasingly necessary!

I’ve been wanting to speak with Atkiak since I first heard the album Ashen Winter of Chernobyl. His music is haunting, ancestral and primal – conjuring up images of ancient snow-covered forests and forgotten mountain regions. I hope you will all enjoy this interview and the following overview of several of my favourite Hiemal releases, and consider supporting the artist. He has some great work on his Bandcamp page, which is linked to at the bottom of this article!

Interviewer: Rich Dodgin
Interviewee: Atkiak (the man behind Hiemal)

 

Rich: Hi Atkiak! First if all, a massive thank you for this opportunity to interview you for This Is Darkness, and to give our readers a chance to learn more about you and your music.

Atkiak: Hello Rich. Thank you for asking for an interview. It is a pleasure.

Rich: For those who aren’t familiar with your music, can you provide a brief overview of Hiemal.

Atkiak: Hiemal is an ambient solo project from France, created in 2017. Musically, it is winter-themed drone ambient with layers of field recordings, the objective being to create an immersive, cold soundscape.

Rich: Do you have a preferred approach to creating your music, and what techniques and / or equipment do you use?

Atkiak: I spend a lot of time outside to get inspired. Hiemal is my personal sanctuary and the ambience I create is a reflection of my thoughts. When an idea comes to me, I always start by recording small synth tracks. I overlap them in order to create a first sound layer. Depending on what I want to produce, I add recordings of other instruments: electric guitar, piano, cymbals, etc. The synth I use the most is the Mininova from Novation.

To create a longer, more atmospheric result, I stretch the track and add a deep white noise for the bass. The last step is adding field recordings as a background for a more enveloping ambience, but also to give a more organic feel to the music.

Rich: Do you perform your music live? If so, how do you find that experience, and do you prefer it to studio work?

Atkiak: Hiemal will probably never go live. I think it is best to listen to this music alone, at least it is what I intended. Think of it as a contemplative soundtrack to a long walk in the woods at night.

 

Rich: Can you tell me about your own journey of musical discovery and experimentation? How did you discover / fall in love with dark ambient / drone music, and how did your creation of music develop over the years?

Atkiak: I discovered and fell in love with dark ambient through black metal. The first releases were more influenced by it, some being pure dark ambient instead of the melancholic drone I tend to record more often nowadays. Hiemal’s general aesthetic (logo and artworks) could be considered black metal. I did create a side project for the darker releases: Astrahentium.

Over the years, I tried many different approaches to create ambient. Faster paced ambient with synth pads, piano compositions, granular synthesis, etc.

Rich: Are there any particular musicians who have inspired or influenced you?

Atkiak: Black metal-wise, Alrakis, Midnight Odyssey, Lustre, Vinterriket and Lunar Aurora to name a few.

The ambient artists that influenced me to start a project of my own are Robert Rich, Ugasanie, Hammock and Steve Roach.

Rich: How would you describe the current state of dark ambient / drone music?

Atkiak: Just like with black metal, it is expanding fast. A lot of new projects emerge every week and it is hard to make a selection. I tend to focus more on older releases then the newer ones.

Rich: What are your future plans for Hiemal?

Atkiak: I don’t have any particular plan for Hiemal. I will continue producing ambient soundscapes in my free time, and participating in collaborations / compilations every now and then.

Rich: Thank you so much for your time, Atkiak!

 

Here are four Hiemal albums to get you started

Windswept Stillness

Windswept Stillness is the perfect introduction to Hiemal’s winter soundscapes. From the opening sounds of a blowing mountain gale, this album transports the listener to an isolated snow-covered forest, providing an audio experience that is somehow both relaxing and unsettling at the same time.

 

Wandering Through Withered Memories

This a darker, more eerie sounding album, with the sounds of howling gales and haunting synths creating an underlying sense of dread.

 

Mist of Dissonance

Despite the name, Mist of Dissonance is one of Hiemal’s lighter albums. The winter soundscapes are still very much present, but the delicate synth work results in music that is more comforting than that on some of his other releases.

 

Ashen Winter of Chernobyl

This is my favourite Hiemal album. Over the course of almost two and half hours, waves of incredible drone and synth sounds wash over you, taking you away from your surroundings and transporting you to the bleak Russian landscape. The music is beautiful and uplifting in some places, yet haunting and disturbing in others – for example, on Chernobyl’s Shine the use of strings adds an almost unbearable tension to the mix. This is powerful and emotive stuff!

 

Hiemal Links

Facebook
Bandcamp

Rich Dodgin – Editor & Reviewer

Name: Rich Dodgin
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Contact: info@thisisdarkness.com

Social Media Profiles: Facebook

Other projects:
Hellschreiber, dark ambient musician: BandcampFacebook

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