Category: Frozen In Time: Weekly News (Page 1 of 5)

Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – January 2021

Here are the dark ambient albums that we at This is Darkness have been listening to this month – 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!


Sonologyst – Ancient Death Cults and Beliefs

The latest release from Sonologyst is a ritual ambient exploration of the veneration of the dead in ancient cults and religions. With this album, Raffaele Pezzella has once again demonstrated his skilful ability to combine dark ambient / drone with field recordings – the end result is music that manages to be dark and unsettling in places, while primeval and soothing in others. This is deep, powerful music that you can lose yourself in – highly recommended!


Various Artists – Music For Abandoned Cold War Places

I’ve had this impressive album of dark ambient / drone / post-industrial soundscapes on repeat play since I first heard it. Over the course of an hour we are treated to twelve tracks that each encapsulate the atmosphere and feeling of abandoned cold war places in some way – some are abrasive and hard-edged, some rhythmically hypnotic, others eerie and haunting. Every track on here is exceptional, and massive credit to label ZeroK for assembling such a strong collection of material. Not only that, but while each of the contributions on this album offers something unique,  they all fit together perfectly to create an incredible listening experience. Outstanding!


Various Artists – Demonology In Dante’s Inferno

For this breath-taking release of dark ambient / drone / noise, Eighth Tower Records invited a group of musicians to create tracks inspired by the series of demonic figures that Dante and Virgil met as they travelled through the nine circle of Hell. The resulting album is a rewarding audio nightmare of echoing passages, otherworldly encounters, and disturbing sonic soundscapes. If you’re looking for something dark and unnerving then this is definitely worth checking out!


Scott Lawlor – New Beginnings and Reflections, Volume 2

To see in 2021, Scott Lawlor has released this second in his annual series of reflective ethereal long-form drone albums. It’s a delightfully minimalist seventy-two minute track that beautifully balances the darkness and the light – meaning the listener is able to find their own meaning within the unfolding meditative soundscape. This is the perfect soundtrack for some relaxation or introspection, to review the year that has been, and to look forward to the year that will be. Wonderful.


HLER – LGM-1

Created from the bursts of radio waves originating from space, this stunning album of dark ambient / drone / post-industrial is one of those which rewards the listener with something new to experience each time it’s played. The music here is mysterious, hypnotic and alien… and yet the audio journey we are taken on has a comforting aspect underlying it all. With LGM-1, Finnish duo Heikki Lindgren & Esa Ruoho have created something truly unique, and this is very much worth checking out.


Hiemal – Shishaldin

Hiemal’s latest release is another wonderfully dreamy drone album, clocking in at over an hour in length. Gradually evolving drones are complimented by subtly used field recordings, creating an audio journey that is perfect for de-stressing and forgetting all of your lockdown blues.

 

Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – December 2020

Here are the dark ambient albums that we at This is Darkness have been listening to this month – 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!


Various Artists – Selected Ambient Works From Italy

The debut album from Italian label, Tiny Drones For Lovers, is an impressive 18 track compilation of ambient-space-drone from the Italian underground scene, featuring a range of ambient-drone that will have something for everyone – from relaxing music to chill-out to, to darker more unnerving stuff that will set your teeth on edge. I’ve come across some of the artists before, but many are wonderful new discoveries for me that I will be exploring further. Definitely a label to keep an eye on!


Grande Loge – Mantras

The first full length release from France’s enigmatic Grande Loge, this is an album of ritual ambient excellence, perfectly fusing together elements of folk, transcendental chanting, and a host of traditional instruments to create something very special indeed. The end result is a timeless album of mystical and spiritual music that is highly recommended!


Scott Lawlor – Rex Gentium

The latest album from Scott Lawlor features three tracks that “…are intended to help with your wait, help you take your foot off the accelerator and just be…“. These are subtle, leisurely pieces, perfect for listening to as you lie back on the sofa, get in tune with yourself, and let the pressure and worries of every day life slip away. Simply wonderful.


Randal Collier-Ford – Advent

Randal Collier-Ford‘s latest album is a dark industrial ambient album of discordant, brooding tones and otherworldly, Lovecraftian sounds. It’s an impressively bleak and unsettling soundscape album guaranteed to give you nightmares. Definitely an album to check out if you’re a fan of Cryo Chamber‘s heavier releases!


Ruptured World – Interplanetary

With Interplanetary, Ruptured World takes us back to Proxima Centauri b, to continue the story from Exoplanetary as “… a follow up mission of search and recovery is now underway, led by Dr Phoenix Macrae, son of the Chief Science Officer of the previous mission, Dr Hector Macrae…“. This is another spectacular album of dark space ambient, with Alistair Rennie once again demonstrating his incredible ability to combine haunting soundscapes with immersive and gripping story telling. Wow!


Xerxes The Dark – X​-​Theory (Best Of 2005​-​2020)

With over 4 hours of music, this 40 track compilation showcases some of the best of Xerxes The Dark‘s solo work from the past 15 years. With a range of musical styles (from drone to ambient to industrial, and more), this is a great introduction to this talented musician’s work if you’re not sure where to start with his other albums. Recommended!


Altarmang – Mothstar

Moth Star is the second album by Altarmang. An intuitive sonic exploration of planetary and abysmal constellations captured on reel-to-reel tape. A documentation from beyond the waking sleep.


Imprisoner – How the End Might Roar

Imprisoner returns with a second album, ‘How the End Might Roar’. What was first intended as a black metal album turned into a strange hybrid of black, ritualistic ambience, with songs being passed back and forth between Flavius Ion and Par Bostrom (who is a guest on all seven tracks on the album), for several months. While the previous release had a more poignant feel, ‘How the End Might Roar’ is centered around themes both musicians love very much: winter nights and their ethereal uncertainty.


Caleb R.K. Williams – Skies

Caleb R.K. Williams, head of the French acousto-drone ambient label Eagle Stone Collective, is back with another solo work. This improvisation is one of my favorites in his recent releases, a thick foreboding envelops us as we stride across sandy dunes, toward a future unknown.

 

Scott Lawlor – Interview

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I’ve been wanting to speak with Scott since I first heard the album Life Passes Slowly Unto Death. Scott’s music is sometimes dark and edgy, other times lighter and relaxing – but it’s always powerful, soul-stirring stuff that cannot fail to move you. I hope you will all enjoy this interview 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: Scott Lawlor

 

Rich: Hi Scott! First of 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.

Scott: Thank you, I appreciate the opportunity.

Rich: Firstly, can you tell us a little about yourself.

Scott: I am a socially introverted, totally blind stay-at-home dad who has a curious mind about many things and uses music to express myself as I have found that, after dropping out of graduate school, where I was getting a degree in counseling, I found that I put sounds together much better than words.  This is a bit ironic since I have a double major in English and Psychology and originally wanted to be a novelist after my undergraduate adviser talked me out of pursuing a career as an English teacher.

Rich: For those who aren’t familiar with your music, can you provide a brief overview of your musical projects and the music you make.

Scott: I am the type of person who doesn’t like to do the same thing twice, or at least, not twice in a row so my musical explorations range from light ethereal ambient, to solo piano, cosmic space music, dark ambient, some progressive rock and even a bit of noise music under a different side project that I don’t release too much in these days.

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

Scott: Most of the time, I just sit down at the keyboard, hit record and just start playing.

I used to exclusively use hardware but after hearing about Native Instruments and their Komplete keyboards which have accessible features for the visually impaired, people in the blind community spent literally years trying to convince me to take the plunge into software synthesizers.  I was always nervous about doing this because I thought it would be too complicated and I would rather spend my time creating music then learning about and troubleshooting new technology.

After a while, when I didn’t feel so inspired by the limited number of sounds available on my Roland synth, I decided to just go for it and so within 5 days of getting my new keyboard and all the software I would need, I was up and running and recording.

 

Rich: Do you have a particular personal belief system, and if so how is that reflected in music?

Scott: That’s a complicated question and my answer could probably be a novel on the subject.

I was raised Catholic but went to a southern  Baptist university and discovered that I didn’t fit in very well when it came to trying to talk theology to the fundamentalists.  It was a frustrating experience to try to encourage them to go beyond the literal interpretation of scripture and I remember one short conversation that summarizes the problem quite well.

My friend: “If the bible says that Jonah was swallowed by a Whale, then I believe it.”

Me: “what does that story say about his journey spiritually or psychologically?”

If I could see, I probably would have seen my friend roll her eyes and just walk away.

Then there was the professor who had issues with the notion that Jesus went to hell for 3 days, or so tradition says.  The Baptists at that time just weren’t interested in exploring those kinds of things, so again, I just felt out of place when it came to religion.

After going to a Catholic graduate school, I learned of things like Centering prayer and some of the existentialists like Rollo May, Erik Fromm, Saurian Kierkegaard and the like and I turned to more new-age ideologies but it all morphed, at some point, into deism, you know, the idea that God is the clockmaker who wound up the universe and doesn’t really intervene.

After my brother died in 2017 from an 11 month battle with stage 4 sarcoma, and my music took on a much more personal meaning with a trilogy of albums, some of which were nominated for ambient album of the year, I began to read about and listen to different accounts of people who had near death experiences and how these had profoundly influenced and changed their lives.

I am still fascinated by the topic to this day but I don’t really have any specific spiritual practices like prayer, meditation or going to church.

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

Scott: When I was living in Akron Ohio and the surrounding areas during most of the 1990’s, I performed live at different coffee houses, restaurants, a few malls, and even an outside wedding for a friend.  performing live was okay and at the time, I had an ensoniq sq1 keyboard where I would preprogram a lot of the backing tracks to my music and do improvising over it in a live setting.  On occasion, the system would crash and I’d have to stay up all night to redo everything for the gig the next day.

This was before I discovered ambient music and I was playing more new-age material, inspired by people like Suzanne Ciani, Yanni and artists like that.

Once, a coffee house owner paid me in coffee beans for my performance so I ended up getting 9 pounds of coffee for that gig.  We ambient musicians, we’ll take anything.

 

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

Scott: I’ve always been interested in music from when I was a small boy living in Rhode island from ruining my mother’s Elvis collection by scratching the needle across the albums because I liked the sound, to banging on the piano in my aunt Joanne’s basement at her house at cape cod.

I would create weird collages out of different music using tape recorders and record players and I was listening to the rolling Stones and Pink Floyd from the time I was 5 years old, maybe younger.

It wouldn’t be until around 1997 when someone sent me a cassette recording of a Robert Rich sleep concert that he gave in Cleveland, Ohio that my interest in ambient music would be discovered.  After that, I heard the work of Klaus Schulze, Steve roach and decided myself to give writing ambient music a try.  That’s when I wrote my first ambient album called Times Escape which wouldn’t be released until around 16 years later in 2013 on the weareallghosts internet label.

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

Scott: Yes, many including the aforementioned Robert Rich, Klaus Schulze and Steve roach along with Tangerine Dream, Lucette Bourdin, John Zorn, Merzbow, Lustmord, Kammarheit, SVARTSINN and Harold Budd just to list a small selection.

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

It’s a rather expansive genre with so many people releasing so many albums, yours truly included and the variety of releases out there from artist to artist is pretty amazing.

A lot of people over this last year have commented in general that the limitless options of sonic exploration available to them have provided a lifeline in a world where it feels like almost everything else is spinning out of control.  Music is one of the few grounding therapeutic sources out there and I am humbled and honored to be a part of such a talented community of ambient artists all over the world.

Rich: What are your future musical plans?

Scott: I’ve got a couple of collaborations lined up for 2021, I may still do isolation concerts on YouTube from time to time and I’ve got a sequel to my 2015 album called Journey through the Bootes void that I started working on in 2015 and it’s still not complete.  It’s my longest album to date clocking in at 12 and a half hours.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Not that I can think of.

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

 

Scott Lawlor Links

Facebook
Bandcamp
Youtube

Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – September 2020

Here are the dark ambient albums that we at This is Darkness have been listening to this month – 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!


Grove of Whispers – Shovelful of Silt

Grove of Whispers continues to release amazing music at pace – each month releasing at least one full album of mesmerising low-tempo drone / dark ambient that I end up with on repeat play. Shovelful of Silt is one of his more unsettling and eerie releases, but as always the overall listening experience is a deeply relaxing and rewarding one.


NYVVA – Gypsy

I fell in love with the music of NYVVA the very first time I heard the wonderful blend of electronic ambient tones and natural sitar drones on his Aether EP – so I was absolutely delighted when I learned that a full album was being released. Gypsy continues in the same vein as the EP, with subtle electronic rhythms and gorgeous sitar sounds combining to produce something very special indeed. Yes, this is more ambient than dark ambient, but this is a wonderful album, and well worth checking out if you’re looking for something a little different.


Bonzaii – Death in the Cities / Tempus Fugit

Death in the Cities, The first half of this latest release from Bonzaii, is dark, twisted and heavy as hell – discordant drones and pulverising synth tones are layered together  and the end result is a goosebump-inducing nightmarish soundtrack from hell. Tempus Fugit is a lighter, more poignant track, but no less impressive, and the contrast between the two pieces works wonderfully.


Various Artists – Dark Ambient Vol. 20

The Sombre Soniks dark ambient label specialises in music of a “… ritual or ethnomuzikologikal nature…” and this latest album, a compilation of twenty-three tracks from forty-six artists (collaborating in pairs), is another high quality release. This album is a little “harsher” in overall sound than some of their previous releases, but that’s no bad thing, and each track offers something different so is definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for something from a number of up-and-coming dark ambient musicians.
Full disclaimer – the album features a track that our very own Rich Dodgin (using his moniker Hellschreiber) collaborated on.


H

Hymnambulae – Andarlīh

I’ve been really looking forward to this release! Andarlīh shows a new and darker side of the Hymnambulae project, which consists of siblings Åsa & Pär Boström (Kammarheit, Cities Last Broadcast). Andarlīh is a ritualistic electro-acoustic ambient album, which was recorded in the northern city of Umeå, but also in the subterranean church of Saint Anna, which resides a cool 90 meters below the surface of Lapland, Sweden. This album is the perfect accompaniment to your spiritual practices, or equally suiting as the background atmosphere to your casual daily activities.


Phonothek – Styx

 

Since their debut, I’ve been a huge fan of the dark jazz stylings of Phonothek.  Their form of dark ambient takes on that smokey club vibe more often than not, feeling like the dark ambient answer to a band like Bohren und der Club of Gore. While the overtly jazzy sections are kept to a minimum on this release, the cinematics and atmosphere are at an all-time brooding high.  For we are indeed being escorted through the underworld, witnessing macabre sites and sounds along the way that will leave the listener with a lingering sense of dread.


Mount Shrine & alphaXone – Dream Chambers

 

This was an album destined to be a classic. Mount Shrine is known for his ASMR-ready dark ambient albums, which tend to be perfect for sleep assistance. His combination of cold/polar sensibilities with crisp field recordings are the perfect balance to the exquisite otherworldly drone-work of alphaXone. We are left with an album that has carefully crafted, pulsing drones over a plethora of intricate tiny sounds. Whether falling asleep or just looking for some relaxation, Dream Chambers will certainly help connect listeners to a deeply rewarding liminal space.


Yen Pox – Between the Horizon and the Abyss

 

For a throw-back album, this month I picked the most recent full-length by dark ambient masters Yen Pox. I picked this one up on double-vinyl back when it released on Malignant, and I find that it is always one of my favorites to return to over the years. The sounds are brooding and massive. Waves of drone crash through the speaker system as the wails of dying are drowned out by out-of-control industrial machinery. A glimpse into an apocalyptic future, which seems to be inching ever closer.


 

Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – July 2020

Here are the dark ambient albums that we at This is Darkness have been listening to this month – 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!


Mortemhize – Herald of Doom

I’ve been a huge fan of Russian neoclassical ambient artist, Mortemhize, for some time now, so I was thrilled when I learned he was releasing this new 6 track album. This is hauntingly sad music, played beautifully on piano and stringed instruments, complimented by subtly blended ambient soundscapes. The end result is music that evokes strong feelings of melancholy and despair – yet provides a wonderful listening experience.


Teeth Engraved With the Names of the Dead – It Will Be Dark Soon

This is one of those albums that just blew me away on the first listen – with its dark ambient, drone, and industrial elements coalescing to create the definitive soundtrack to the apocalypse. No, it’s not an easy listen, but that’s the point. If you’re looking for something on the noisier side of the dark ambient genre, then this album is definitely worth checking out.


Extinct Anatomies – Above The Wandering Land

I’ve had this album from Chilean dark ambient musician Extinct Anatomies on repeat play for the last couple of weeks – its blending of dark ambient and down-tempo industrial elements hitting a sweet spot that I’ve been drawn to again and again. I can’t wait to see what this artist releases next.


Desiderii Marginis – Departed

I’ve been eagerly awaiting for this album to be released ever since Johan Levin mentioned it in an interview last year. It was worth the wait. This is an incredible album of atmospheric dark ambient soundscapes – powerful and emotive music that draws you in and takes you to another world. The inclusion of reworks of 3 classic Desiderii Marginis pieces – Deadbeat, Worlds Apart, and I Am Without Rule (Sum Sine Regno) – is an added bonus. Once again, Johan Levin has shown why he is considered one of the masters of the genre.


Grove of Whispers – Borderland

Grove of Whispers is fast becoming a favourite of mine – his drone-ambient albums always striking the perfect balance between the darkness and the light. Borderland is an album of unsettling drones and eerie dark ambient soundscapes… but its subtle layers and underlying gentle vibe provide the perfect soundtrack to relax, reflect, and lose yourself to.


Keosz – Vigor

The latest album from Slovakian ambient / electronic musician Keosz is actually the soundtrack to Vigor – a “…free-to-play shoot ‘n’ loot game where you build the Shelter in post-war Norway…”. And, as a soundtrack album, some of the music here is a little more uplifting or hard hitting than your typical dark ambient. But because it all flows together so well, I found myself drawn in and enjoying the whole album experience – regardless of whether certain parts of it were dark ambient or not.


Various Artists – +​+​Transcend Transmute Kreate​+​+

The Sombre Soniks dark ambient label specialises in music of a “… ritual or ethnomuzikologikal nature…” and this latest album, a compilation of tracks from twenty-seven artists, is the perfect showcase for the consistently high quality output the label releases. Each track offers something different, yet the pieces all fit together to create a wonderfully unified audio experience that leaves the listener feeling touched by something special.


Mørket – Shadows of Existence

This impressive dark ambient release from Greece, is described by its creator, Mørket, as “… a journey to the subconscious and the hidden, darker aspects of the mind, the moments that are stored within the memory…”. It sums up this album perfectly – where evolving drones and repeating electronica combine together to create a sublime dream-like soundtrack. I will definitely be checking out more from this artist.


Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – June 2020

Here are the dark ambient albums that we at This is Darkness have been listening to this month – 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!


Beyond The Ghost – Eternal Drift

I’m a big fan of Beyond The Ghost‘s previous offering, You Disappeared, so I was thrilled when I heard he was releasing another album on the Cryo Chamber label. Eternal Drift is a dark, brooding album, of cinematic soundscapes that provides the listener with an audio experience that manages to be both melancholic and disturbing. The unsettling drone sounds are complimented by haunting piano and cello work, resulting in music that is sad and despairing, but has an underlying human warmth to it. This is an incredible album, and with it, Pierre Laplace has firmly established himself as one of the masters of the genre.


Bonzaii – A Person / Life on a Blade

These two tracks from German artist, Bonzaii, have been stuck in my head for the last week, in a wonderfully endless loop of wistful poignancy. Discordant drones and low tempo synth patterns are expertly blended together to create something very special. This music provides the perfect soundtrack for reminiscing over days long past and remembering old friends… and maybe a spot of soul-searching. I can’t wait to see what Bonzaii releases next.


Paul Vinsonhaler – Antigonish

Strictly speaking, this isn’t dark ambient – not in the purist sense – but, this electronic / industrial / soundtrack album definitely includes a number of dark ambient elements. This is dark and edgy music, the kind that grabs you by the throat right from the off and doesn’t let go until the album has finished. As a result, Antigonish may not be for everyone – but I was completely blown away the first time I played the album… and I’ve had it on repeat play ever since.


Equal Stones – Catharsis

Ambient producer, Amandus Schaap, describes his latest release as “… a very personal record, mostly functioning as a form of therapy and to release long emotional blockage…” which gives you a good idea of what to expect of Catharsis. This is heartfelt, powerful music – sad, moving and almost overwhelming at times. It’s beautiful, yet bleak stuff, and if you’re in the mood for something on the downhearted side, this album is perfect.


Anne Sulikowski – Bedroom Drone

This impressive collection of drone and lo-fi electronic music is the latest release from Canadian composer, Anne Sulikowski, who uses guitar, loops, synths and pedals to create unique sonic landscapes. This is a laid back, chilled out album of experimental electronic and ambient music that is soothing and cinematic in equal measure. I will definitely be checking out more of Anne’s music, and with with an extensive back catalogue of 73 (!) releases, I know there will be plenty to keep me entertained for a long time to come.


Mind over MIDI – Skuddår

Mind over MIDI‘s latest release is an album of arctic inspired drone ambient. Helge Tømmervåg has done an amazing job of combining natural field recordings with subtle synth work and drone sounds, to create beautiful meditative polar soundscapes. This album transports the listener to the far, wild reaches of Norway, away from all the every day stresses of modern life. Wonderful.


 

Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – April 2020

Here are the dark ambient albums that we at This is Darkness have been listening to this month – 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!


Michael‘s Picks for April

bvdub – Ten Times the World Lied

I’ve been a huge fan of bvdub since I first found his work on Glacial Movements 2017 album, Epilogues for the End of the Sky (read my 2017 review here), which was a beautifully bleak piece of arctic drone with fleeting glimpses of more trance/electronica type vibes. Ten Times the World Lied returns Brock van Wey to the Glacial Movements label for another album which shares many similar vibes to the aforementioned work, ranging from moments of engulfing tension to a minimal and endearing, piano-laden beauty. As if one is wandering alone through a mild northern storm, reminiscing on times of love and others of despair, giving each their due importance. As many of us walk/sit/work alone during these hard times, bvdub‘s sounds seem ever-important and timely.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Mount Shrine – Shortwave Ruins

Mount Shrine is back with another variant on their signature combo of delicate field recordings, slowly evolving drones and the occasional samples of ‘radio-transmission’ voices. Shortwave Ruins brings these radio samples to the forefront, making for a more active listen than the previous albums. It’s certainly a perfect album for the hours winding down before bed, and for those that sleep with the TV on, this would be a useful replacement! For me the album evokes the same sort of frigid ambient, which simultaneously has a heart-warming effect, for which I often go to Northaunt, which is my next recommendation for the month!

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Northaunt/Svartsinn – The Borrowed World

This is an album that solidified my love for dark ambient. It is inspired by ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy. While there is never a bad reason to pull this vinyl out and give it a spin, it seems even more appropriate during this current pandemic. You can check out my previous deep analysis of the album/book here, and an interview I did with Hærleif Langås of Northaunt here.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Old Sorcery – An Inkling of Void

Old Sorcery is back with a new EP, An Inkling of Void, running slightly over 20 min. The album is presented on Electronic Purification Records in a vinyl edition, which also includes 2018’s The Path Lies Hidden EP on it’s reverse side. An Inkling of Void is one of the more subtle releases by Old Sorcery, focusing more on dreamy synths than their more frequent and overtly dungeon synth vibes of the previous full-length releases.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.


Rich‘s Picks for April

Obsidian Relic – Obsidian Relic

Daniel Edenfield’s previous releases have been black metal / darkwave (Throne of Anguish), dungeon synth / soundtrack (Seregost), and cinematic audio horror stories (The Night Keep). His latest project, Obsidian Relic, takes the dark ambient elements present on those albums, to the next level – with brooding synth work, eerie drone soundscapes, and post-industrial undertones. The end result in an impressive album that I’ve had on repeat play for days. I will definitely be watching out for future releases from this artist.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Moonshine Blues – Through

Through is an album of mesmerising, melancholic soundscapes – where drones, strings and synths have been expertly combined to create music that is incredibly beautiful… and almost unbearably heartbreaking. All five tracks are imbued with a real sense of sadness and regret, and the listener is taken on an emotional journey of sorrow and self-reflection that is simply wonderful.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Hiemal – Vacant

Hiemal is fast becoming a favourite of mine – the winter-themed drone ambient soundscapes he creates never failing to chill me out and transport me away from everything. Vacant is one of his more meditative albums, with long form drones blended perfectly with the gentle sounds of wind-swept trees and distant birdsong. This is music to lose yourself in.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Grove of Whispers – The Sleep of Reason

This album of drone ambient / dark ambient provides the perfect soundtrack to the unfolding pandemic, with its bleak, haunting soundscapes… and pleasantly soothing undertones. This is deep, multi-layered music, and listening to it is an intense experience. The world is going to hell, but The Sleep of Reason tells us there is still hope…

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Wings of an Angel – Surrender to Emptiness

Israeli Wings of an Angel describe the music they create as “… spiritual ambient & drone music for meditation, dreaming and sleep… “ and, listening to the dreamy warm drones of Surrender to Emptiness, I have to say that’s an accurate description. This is beautifully calming music, ideal for unwinding and drifting off to sleep at the end of a hard day.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Archean Nights – Metropolis

The latest release from French artist, Archean Nights, is an album of unsettling dark ambient / drone ambient, that conveys a real sense of dread and growing unease as it plays. The immersive soundscapes are truly captivating, with so many subtle nuances to pull you in, and each listen provides a powerfully emotional experience.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

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

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

Phobos X – Full Sets & Martin’s Thoughts

It is with great pleasure that I present to you the video footage for all four full sets from Phobos X. Martin (of Phelios / Sphäre Sechs and the man behind the annual Phobos Festivals in Wuppertal, Germany) was kind enough to add some substance to this collection with an introduction, detailing his thoughts on the Phobos festivals – in general, as well as this year’s festival – in particular. So, without further ado, I give you Martin Stürtzer!

Phobos X marks the ten-year anniversary of a series of concerts focused on dark ambient music. When I started to release music with Phelios, I was often annoyed by the way this kind of music was presented in a live situation. People talking, no seats and bad amplification are side-effects that I encountered a lot as a musician and as a guest. My idea was to present this music in an ideal environment where both artists and listeners can focus on the atmospheric sounds and video projections. The church (Neue Reformierte Kirche Wuppertal) has a long tradition with experimental arts and music and offers the perfect space for this event.

The four concerts were recorded with two cameras. The audio signal is from the mixing desk and also two room microphones to capture the reverb and ambience of the church room. It is rather dry compared to large cathedrals, but still noticeable. Arktau Eos played with the room acoustics by walking through the church during the performance and playing several un-mic’d instruments.

Arktau Eos – Photo by: Hans-Hermann Hess

What you don´t see on the videos is the meeting point and place of social gathering that the Phobos Festival has become over the years. There are large stalls from the labels where new releases are presented and where you can chat with the artists about their music. In the breaks between the concerts is time to talk to each other, exchange the experiences of the music or simply meet like-minded persons. The guests arrive from all over Germany and other countries. My idea of this video coverage is to give listeners who live too far away the opportunity to listen to the concerts for the first time – or to re-listen at home in a familiar listening situation for the audience.

Photo by: Hans-Hermann Hess

The friday-meetings became a classic of this weekend. Most artists arrive a day before the shows and we use the rare opportunity to talk about our music, the struggles of modern music „industry“ and our individual approaches to music. My personal highlight of this weekend was the guys from Arktau Eos playing the synths in my home-studio in underpants, after we got struck by heavy rain on the way from the church home to my place. One bag was lost in the flight and we were checking which of the instruments could be replaced by gear from my studio. It was good luck that the bag was delivered a few hours before the show on Saturday.

Phobos X musicians at the Friday meeting before the event.


TeHÔM

Check out TeHÔM’s latest full-length release on Cyclic Law, Lacrimae Mundi.
Also, their most recent album, Live Assault on Essentia Mundi and Cyclic Law, which we reviewed here.

Vortex

Check out Vortex latest album, As Gods Fall on Cyclic Law.

Circular

Check out the latest album by Circular, Radiating Perpetual Light on
Loki Foundation.

Arktau Eos

Check out the latest album by Arktau Eos, Erēmos on Aural Hypnox.
We reviewed Erēmos hereAlso, we very recently interviewed Arktau Eos here.

 

Martin Stürtzer
(Phelios, Sphäre Sechs, Phobos organizer)

For more videos from previous Phobos Festivals as well as the musical workings of Martin Stürtzer, subscribe to Martin’s Youtube Channel.

Check out his musical projects Phelios and Sphäre Sechs, as well as his recent eponymous release.

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