Category: Reviews (Page 1 of 17)

Nihil Impvlse – Stasis – Review

Artist: Nihil Impvlse
Album: Stasis
Release date: 17 December 2020
Label: Eighth Tower Records
Reviewer: Rich Dodgin

Tracklist:
01. Krankheitsfelder
02. Psychik Plague
03. Thanatological Singularity
04. Zeitgeist Penthotal
05. A Prison Within A Prison
06. Prophets Of Fall
07. To All Our Futures These Ruins Shall Return

Sometimes I’m just in the mood for something dark, noisy and aggressive as hell… and on days like those, an album such as Stasis by Nihil Impvlse is exactly what I need.

Stasis is “… an exploration, in seven chapters, of the diagrams of the power mechanisms caging us in an invisible prison: civilization… “, and during the course of the album we are treated to an array of harsh noise / drone / industrial, full of jarring, pounding, skull-splitting soundscapes from the depths of hell. It’s bleak, discomforting stuff, but that’s the point.

Each track is also complimented by a sparingly used vocal sample, that provides additional context and example of the political and personal power struggles that bind us all within life’s prison cell. The end result  is an impressive album that challenges and rewards in equal measure – and where each track offers something different, and yet maintains the overall feel of the album.

With StasisNihil Impvlse has done an incredible job of expressing the frustration and futility of modern life; of being trapped as a cog in the grinding wheels of civilisation.

Highly recommended!

Written by: Rich Dodgin

Various – Yig – Review

Artist: Various
Album: Yig
Release date: 29 December 2020
Label: Cryo Chamber
Reviewer: Rich Dodgin

Tracklist:
01. Yig 1
02. Yig 2

Yig, the seventh in Cryo Chamber‘s series of Lovecraftian releases, was recorded by over 20 of the scene’s biggest names working together in collaboration for over a year to write, produce and perform this incredible 2 hour dark ambient soundscape album.

Collaborators included:
Neizvestija
ProtoU
Dronny Darko
RNGMNN
In Quantum
Dead Melodies
Atrium Carceri
Keosz
Northumbria
Beyond the Ghost
Wordclock
God Body Disconnect
Randal Collier-Ford
Hilyard
Council of Nine
Dahlia’s Tear
Lesa Listvy
Creation VI
Aegri Somnia
Ager Sonus
Ruptured World
Alphaxone

And if that isn’t enough to get you salivating, just wait until you hear the music they’ve created – because this is quite honestly one of the best dark ambient albums I’ve heard in recent times.

During the course of the 2 tracks, each over an hour in length, we are treated to an amazing audio journey that takes us from trepidation, despair and horror at at one end of the scale, to soothing reassurance and hope at the other.

The music here has so much depth and is so multi-layered that it’s impossible to describe it all in any detail, but needless to say that each artist has clearly delivered their highest quality work for this album – as evidenced by the fact that there is no filler here whatsoever. Each and every moment of Yig is full of spine-tinglingly, goose-bump inducing dark ambient excellence that draws you under its spell. Not only that, but it all hangs together perfectly, seamlessly moving from dark, brooding soundscape to rhythmic ritualistic ensemble, and from enchanting ethereal layers to raw-edged, discordant drones.

The production quality, as you would expect from a Cryo Chamber release, is simply gorgeous, providing a cinematically dark listening experience in which every sound and each individual note adds something essential to the mix.

Yig is available as a digital download, and as a double CD album that comes in a deluxe 20 page hardcover DigiBook. Inside, the breath-taking artwork of Simon Heath is complimented by journal entries written by Alistair Rennie (Ruptured World).

This is an album that rewards repeated listening – I’ve had it on continuous play for the last week or so, and each and every time I’ve discovered something new and wonderous among the atmospheric field recordings and sonic soundscapes.

Yig is another exceptional release from Cryo Chamber, and anyone who is a fan of their dark ambient albums shouldn’t hesitate to buy themselves a copy of this album. Absolutely outstanding!

Written by: Rich Dodgin

Scott Lawlor – Life Passes Slowly Unto Death – Review

Artist: Scott Lawlor
Album: Life Passes Slowly Unto Death
Release date: 18 November 2020
Label: Self-released
Reviewer: Rich Dodgin

Tracklist:
01. Life Passes Slowly Unto Death
02. As the Dying Process Begins, Comprehension of Mortality is Realized
03. Drifting Through Unsequenced Memories
04. Your Worst Fear is Dying Without Being Remembered
05. Whisperings From Beyond The Veil Call You Home
06. The Perfect Darkness of Death
07. The Touching is a Bridge Between the Afterlife and the World Which You Left Behind

Over the last decade, Scott Lawlor has established himself as talented and well-respected member of the ambient community, releasing over 300 albums of first-class ambient, dark ambient, piano, and drone music.

His latest release, Life Passes Slowly Unto Death, is a heartfelt, spiritual dark-ambient album that, as the title suggests, is a reflection upon life and death, and the journey from one to the other.

Opening track Life Passes Slowly Unto Death sets the tone nicely for the whole album – dark, oppressive drones are expertly combined with soaring synth work, perfectly balancing the darkness and the light. The end result is an incredible track that, despite its threatening undertone, leaves the listener feeling introspective yet hopeful.

As the Dying Process Begins, Comprehension of Mortality is Realized is considerably more unsettling. An eerie dark-ambient soundscape is accompanied by what sounds like field-recordings from another planet as we hear the murmuring and chirping of alien lifeforms. Drifting Through Unsequenced Memories continues in a similar vein, but with the otherworldly lifeforms replaced by the sounds of indistinct conversations. And as the track unfolds, soaring synths are added to the mix, adding a lightness to the track and switching things from being uncanny to intriguing.

The piano work on Your Worst Fear is Dying Without Being Remembered is subtle but powerful, creating an almost overwhelming sense of melancholy. Playing this track provides a thought-provoking and rewarding listening experience, and it’s impossible not to find yourself reviewing your life and likely legacy. Whisperings From Beyond The Veil Call You Home is a more minimalist piece, in which a subtle dark-ambient soundscape and an underlying, unintelligible whispering merge together in a haunting yet calming audio hallucination.

The Perfect Darkness of Death is the bleakest and most ‘dark-ambient’ track on the album. Brooding drones and discordant synths are complimented by strange echoes and ethereal sounds. It’s impressive stuff and listening to it, you can almost feel yourself being pulled through the curtain and into the afterlife.

Final track, The Touching is a Bridge Between the Afterlife and the World Which You Left Behind, is an emotional piece, with the melancholic piano and soul-stirring singing producing a perfect ending to the album – leaving the listener feeling touched by something very special.

Life Passes Slowly Unto Death is an incredible album, in which the theme of death is skilfully explored, once again demonstrating just how gifted a musician Scott Lawlor is.

Very highly recommended.

Written by: Rich Dodgin

Eppu Kaipainen – Poiu – Review

Artist: Eppu Kaipainen
Album: Poiu
Release date: 4 December 2020
Label: Decaying Spheres
Reviewer: Rich Dodgin

Tracklist:
01. To See Wear Requires a Mindful Watcher
02. Yeardays
03. Personal Clocks ft Dan Fingerman
04. Poiu
05. Rifling Through the Lost & Found
06. A String of Weeks
07. Place, Not Just a Space

A couple of months ago, I reviewed Manchester based ambient / drone record label Decaying Spheres‘ second release – a stunning collection of tracks from some of their favourite international artists. One the standout tracks on that album was My House is Torn Down Every Evening by Eppu Kaipainen feat Embry お兄ちゃん, which I described as “… an unsettling track, in which slowly repeating electronic wailing is accompanied by desperate, terrified sobbing, and softly spoken vocals that somehow manage to be both soothing and sinister. It’s an uncomfortable listen, but a rewarding and strangely enjoyable one…”

Now, Helsinki based producer Eppu Kaipainen returns to Decaying Spheres with the release of Poiu a 60 minute ambient / drone album, that explores how music can change our perception of time.

Opening track, To See Wear Requires a Mindful Watcher, is a minimalist piece with a hypnotic pulsing beat, accompanied by haunting synth work, that shifts into something more akin to interference as the track comes to a close. It sets things up perfectly for the tracks to follow, leaving the listener feeling melancholic… and a little uneasy.

Yeardays is a slower, darker piece, with a dirty drone sound and harsher tone. It contrasts nicely with the first track – its sadder, more downbeat vibe, imbuing a sense of the daily grind that life can sometimes become.

With its acoustic guitar and the sounds of city life, Personal Clocks ft Dan Fingerman is a short and poignant piece that nevertheless provides a positive uplift of spirits before leading into the title track, Poiu – a gentle introspective track with subtle, repeating beats and faint unidentifiable sounds, meaning the listener can assign their own meaning to the soundscape as it unfolds… encouraged to reflect on their own life journey.

Rifling Through the Lost & Found is an eerie, otherworldly track, with discordant drones and distorted singing. In places, it sounds like a darker, bleaker Boards of Canada – no bad thing – and again demonstrates what an amazing job Eppu Kaipainen has done here, in conveying the sense of time passing and the ultimate frailty of life.

At the start of A String of Weeks, the synths are fairly bright and perky, but as the track unfolds, things become darker – almost menacing. And yet, throughout this piece, there is an underlying sense of optimism… maybe even hope.

Final track, Place, Not Just a Space, expertly blends drones, distorted sounds, and repeating snippets to produce another reflective piece. In the latter half of the track, the sounds work together to create a sense of rewind… a feeling that perhaps the ending approaching each of us is in fact a chance of rebirth, and a new beginning.

With PoiuEppu Kaipainen has created an astounding album of long form-drones that manages to be both challenging and rewarding to the listener. This is an album to listen to as you lie back in bed, contemplating your life and achievements to date, and considering the possibilities of the future ahead of you.

Decaying Spheres have released another impressive album, and quite simply, if you’re a fan of drone / ambient-drone, then you have to buy yourself a copy of this. Outstanding!

Written by: Rich Dodgin

Hiemal – Denali (VHS Tape) – Review

Artist: Hiemal
Album: Denali (VHS Tape)
Release date: 1 December 2020
Label: Parapsych Productions
Reviewer: Rich Dodgin

Regular readers will know that I’m huge fan of French dark ambient musician, Hiemal – his winter-themed drone ambient soundscapes always doing an amazing job of chilling me out and transporting me away from everything.

So I was thrilled when Parapsych Productions contacted us with the news that they were releasing an ambient film with music by Hiemal. Parapsych Productions describe themselves as “an occult/paranormal inspired limited run tape label for genres of blackmetal, drone/ambient, obscure field recordings, and other sound research.” Their releases are consistently high standard affairs, with gorgeous physical components that perfectly complement the music recorded on them, and Denali is no exception – arriving on a professionally dubbed black VHS tape in a plastic clam shell case, and looking utterly stunning.

So, what about the music and film themselves?

Well, musically, Denali is one of Hiemal‘s more minimalist albums, in the sense that this is all about the drone, with little or no field recordings added to the mix. But that’s no bad thing at all – the gentle synth work features subtle, gradual changes in tone, and the end result is almost hypnotic, inducing a dream like state in the listener. It’s wonderful stuff and, quite honestly, this is already one of my favourite Hiemal albums.

That said, the accompanying film takes Denali to another level entirely, adding so much more to the already impressive audio experience.  Dream like sequences of images and video clips play along with the music, giving the viewer an audio-visual treat that is simply sublime.

Throughout the course of the film, we see mountains, seas, icebergs, trees,  and scenes from outer space or television… though all are optically enhanced, filtered or corrupted in one way or another – meaning that watching the film is trippy, surreal and otherworldly.

With Denali, Hiemal and Parapsych Productions have created an absolute masterpiece, expertly fusing together beautiful drone-ambient soundscapes with a stunning ambient film. Each part is great in its own right, but together they are outstanding.

Highly recommended!

Written by: Rich Dodgin

Dead Melodies & Beyond the Ghost – Crier’s Bane – Review

Artist: Dead Melodies & Beyond the Ghost
Album: Crier’s Bane
Release date: 3 November 2020
Label: Cryo Chamber

Cinematic dark ambient is a term that gets thrown around quite loosely, in my estimation, when describing many dark ambient albums. While there are the occasional releases that feel truly cinematic, with a moving scenery and narrative, many fall short. Of course, if there were a label out there that is able to fully embrace such a level of perfection in this category, that would be Cryo Chamber, without question.

As Cryo Chamber was founded by Swedish ex-pat Simon Heath, whom now runs the label from the U.S. west coast, One shouldn’t be surprised that the label would lean in such a direction. Heath’s main project, Atrium Carceri, has been the absolute go-to for cinematic dark ambient since his debut, Cellblock, back in 2003 on the legendary Cold Meat Industry label. (But since re-issued through Heath’s own Cryo Chamber label.)

Yet, some other projects on Cryo Chamber in the past have only nominally moved into the cinematic direction. But, as the years go by and the label’s catalog continues to increase at a feverish pace, we are seeing more and more releases that fit squarely into the cinematic category. A few of the heavy-hitters in this category to this point have been Flowers For Bodysnatchers and God Body Disconnect, both including sounds of lush landscapes and story-lines which move forward in a tangible way.

Enter Crier’s Bane. From the very opening seconds of Crier’s Bane, Dead Melodies and Beyond the Ghost hurl us directly into the scene. We are greeted by the sound of horses whinnying and hooves scuffing as a carriage slowly rolls through the city. Instead of placing my own interpretation/spin on the themes being explored here, it is probably best to share the blurb from their release page:

“Oyez, oyez, oyez!
All good citizens draw near and harken unto these words. For it is grave news this ere night, grave news indeed.
Be it known to all ye, that there has been another murder. A most gruesome murder, and the killer is still on the loose.
So good people ye, lock up your windows, bracen your doors and be safe on this night, for all is not well. All is not well”
The Crier’s words hung heavy in the early eve. Shutters were closed and the townsfolk scattered to their homes as empty beggars’ hands withdrew to the gutter leaving the once bustling crooked cobblestone streets now but a desolate spiral of gas lit flicker and elongated shadows.

Step back in time to the festering stench and mire of Victorian London courtesy of Dead Melodies and Beyond the Ghost.

So we find that our journey begins in Victorian-era London, a perfect setting, if there ever were one, for a dark ambient journey.

If one is at all familiar with the previous releases by these two projects, Dead Melodies & Beyond the Ghost, then you will be aware that these guys already know their way around the cinematic elements of dark ambient. Dead MelodiesLegends of the Wood, in particular, is still one of my very favorite releases on the label to-date and Beyond the Ghost‘s debut, You Disappeared brought some wonderful new elements into the dark ambient fold. I would highly recommend checking both out, if you haven’t yet.

Listeners can expect an array of instrumentation on Crier’s Bane, which all helps to solidify it’s position in the ‘real world’. Pierre Laplace of Beyond the Ghost brings guitars, keyboards, drums, percussion, melodica and field recordings to the table, while Tom Moore of Dead Melodies delivers guitars, keyboards, synths, harmonica, melodica, percussion, field recordings and foley/sound design. The album is rounded out with horn accompaniments on “Message from the Horsemen” and “The Unforgiving Toll of Time” by Amanda Elledge, whose work outside this project I’m unfamiliar.

As this album is indeed a cinematic experience, I will not bother you with my personal interpretations. Every listener should come to this release with nothing but the album blurb and an open mind. We will all certainly take away something a little different from the next person, as it should be.

Many of the previous collaborative efforts on Cryo Chamber have been utter successes, if not instant-classics. While I wouldn’t compare Crier’s Bane to a masterpiece on the scale of Onyx or Aokigahara, it has certainly been getting numerous play-throughs here and I doubt that will subside anytime soon. I find this to be a truly engaging experience from beginning to end, and can only hope that these two artists will continue working together in the future, possibly taking this story into a new chapter, or delivering a totally new tale.

Highly recommended.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Kammarheit – Thronal – Review

Artist: Kammarheit
Album: Thronal
Release date: 21 December 2020
Label: Cyclic Law

Tracklist:
01. Iron Bloodstream
02. Before It Was Known As Sleep
03. Carving the Coordinates
04. The Two Houses
05. Now Golden, Now Dark
06. In The Dreamer’s Fields
07. Abandonment and Connection
08. The Magnetic Throne

“I took the crown and the throne acted as a magnet, drawing the attention of distant stars…”

If you are one of the few dark ambient listeners that haven’t heard of the highly regarded Kammarheit project, allow me to give you a short introduction, die-hard followers can skip ahead! Kammarheit entered being around the turn of the millennium. Beginning with a string of ‘rough demo albums’, which would become the body of Unearthed 2000-2002, Kammarheit would quickly manifest into the project we know today. The official debut, Asleep and Well Hidden would be one of the very first releases on renowned Cyclic Law label. 2005 brought its follow-up, The Starwheel, revered as one of the flagship albums of the entire genre of dark ambient. These two releases showed a more minimalist or subdued side to dark ambient. Kammarheit became our ferryboat into liminal spaces of consciousness. Following their lead, we were able to journey through our own dreamworlds, as they simultaneously became infused with deep and mysterious soundscapes. After a long pause, Kammarheit released the much anticipated follow-up The Nest in 2015, proving that the project was still as vibrant as ever.

Of course, for those that have closely followed the works of Pär Boström, the mind behind Kammarheit, there has been no lack of material to keep us satisfied over recent years. Boström started this ‘expansion’ of his musical styles with the Cities Last Broadcast debut in 2009. But, since 2016, he has been exploring various avenues with much greater fervor. Projects like his Aindulmedir, Bonini Bulga and Teahouse Radio have delivered exquisite releases, along with collaborative projects Hymnambulae (w/ his sister Åsa Boström, co-founder of their label Hypnagoga Press) and Altarmang (w/ Kenneth Hansson). We also can’t forget the masterpiece, Onyx, which was a Cryo Chamber collaboration between Kammarheit, Atrium Carceri and Apocryphos, and its follow-up Echo.

This brings us to Kammarheit in 2020! Five years after the previous Kammarheit release, Pär Boström has delivered a new Kammarheit full-length, which picks right up where we left off! For anyone concerned that Boström might have a hard time bringing this original project back to the forefront, after so many ‘side-project’ releases, I am here to put those fears to rest! From the very first seconds of the opener “Iron Bloodstream”, we return to a sound palette that will fit neatly alongside the previous three Kammarheit albums. While there are certainly fresh elements incorporated and new dreamscapes to explore, every moment of Thronal truly feels directly connected to its predecessors.

“Iron Bloodstream” gives us a subtle opening to Thronal, allowing its dreamy drone-work to slowly draw us into the experience. The following track, “Before it Was Known As Sleep”, begins to unveil the industrial-esque undertones of the project more noticeably. Another incredibly dreamy drone progression sits atop a layer of ‘gentle whirring noise’ which could as easily be a heavy wind blowing outside your window, or the rumblings of machinery deep beneath the surface. “Carving The Coordinates” continues in the vein of the previous track, but seems to have more immediacy to it, as if we are sort of ‘beginning to awaken within the dream’. Or, a more literal way of putting this might be that Kammarheit is ‘setting the coordinates’ for our journey through the rest of the album.

“The Two Houses” might be my favorite track on Thronal. I can’t help but feel a deep connection between this one and the classically lauded track “Hypnagoga”, from The Starwheel. Deep wind-gust-like rumblings build the foundation for this one, with the repeating of what sounds like a church bell echoing toward us from some just-out-of-reach place. Of course, as with all things Kammarheit for me, I don’t think the rumblings are actual wind, nor do I think the “chiming” is an actual bell. In the liminal spaces Kammarheit resides in my mind, everything and nothing is as it seems.

“Now Golden, Now Dark” is one of the more aggressive tracks on the album, if you could call any of them “aggressive”. The foundations continue to hold a deeply calming aura in their drone-work, while the surface of the track presents us with what I believe to be an electric guitar, which reminds me a bit of his Altarmang track, “Sulphur”, but significantly more subtle. If any connections to that track/project go any further than this surface level of similarity, I have not yet had a chance to formulate that connection. I doubt there is one, but I prefer to be as open-minded as possible when it comes to these possibilities.

“In The Dreamer’s Fields” follows a similar dynamic to the previous track, in that it simultaneously feels incredibly soothing, yet also harrowing. As if we are sleeping soundly in our beds, and yet we could be one second from the beginnings of our worst nightmare. “Abandonment and Connection” sort of ‘levels-off’ the dynamics of the album. Allowing the intensity to rest at its new height, upon which we ascended through the previous two tracks. Again, there feels to be equal parts of tranquility and foreboding present.

“The Magnetic Throne” draws this liminal journey to a close for us on an energetic note. There is a sense of the Lynchian that I pick up here, though it is likely just me! I can’t help but imagine this ‘magnetic throne’ achieving some level of electrical current, which feeds into the grid, in the real-world. As if the energies and emotions created within this inner space are now able to be broadcast out to the world. Similar to the complex conception of electricity in Twin Peaks. One could almost imagine Pär Boström, himself, residing upon this discordantly regal dream-world throne, visible flickers of electrical currents bolting from the corona, making a frenzied dash for the borders of our dreamscapes, and into our greater reality.

The album is close enough to previous Kammarheit albums to scratch that itch which everyone has had for the last 5 years, since The Nest, but it is fresh and innovative in a number of ways, showing the progression of the artist, as well as the evolving story he wants to tell us about this inner world of his. We are able to re-enter the realms of Kammarheit, as if we never left. Practically speaking, in a world so quickly and constantly changing, this familiarity comes as a deeply calming sense of return to previous normalcies, which we so desperately need right now.

If you are die-hard fan of Kammarheit, or just discovering this avenue of Boström’s creative output for the first time, you may be pleased to know that Thronal has been released with an array of physical options which is almost unheard of in this day and age, and particularly within such an obscure scene as the dark ambient genre. Cyclic Law has truly given Kammarheit the flagship treatment it deserves this year, which just so happens to be the twentieth anniversary of the project’s inception. The Thronal album, itself, comes to us in three options: CD, as well as standard and special edition vinyls. These physical options are complemented by a line of apparel options, which include: t-shirt, longsleeve T, sweatshirt, hoodie, and tote bag.

If you are a collector of all things physical, then you will be as pleased as I am, to find that Cyclic Law has re-released the first three Kammarheit albums as a vinyl bundle/box-set, named Triune. So, for the first time ever, all four official Kammarheit albums are available on vinyl! If that wasn’t all enough to choose from, Cyclic Law has also released apparel for each of the first three albums as well, all in the same array of options as mentioned above for Thronal.

I really can’t recommend this album highly enough. It’s been on repeat here, awake or asleep for days since I received my promo download from Cyclic Law earlier this week. Anyone that is a fan of Kammarheit should show no hesitation in diving deeply and repeatedly into this new masterpiece. It will likely hold its quickly-revered placement, for me, indefinitely.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Decaying Spheres by Various Artists – Review

Artist: Various
Album: Decaying Spheres
Release date: 4 September 2020
Label: Decaying Spheres
Reviewer: Rich Dodgin

Tracklist:
01. Bonzaii – Life on a Blade
02. Hynta – Badlands
03. Ghost Signs – Let Fly Thy Vagabond Heart
04. SVR – A Promise
05. Volunteer Coroner – Fantasy in Flashing Lights
06. Eppu Kaipainen feat Embry お兄ちゃん – My House is Torn Down Every Evening
07. Employee Of The Month – Augur
08. Güsh – Gaunt
09. Σπαταλώ χρόνο – αδυναμία, έλλειψη, λεπτότητα, χαύνωση
10. Seed Faith – Projection Forecast

For their second release, Manchester based ambient / drone record label Decaying Spheres has assembled a stunning collection of tracks from some of their favourite international artists.

The opening track, Life on a Blade, by German artist Bonzaii, is a personal favourite of mine. When I reviewed the A Person / Life on a Blade EP back in June, I said “… 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…” It’s a wonderful start to the album, and sets the tone perfectly for the audio journey to follow.

Badlands by Hynta has a more experimental sound to it, but is no less impressive. Repeating glitches, sounds of static, and haunting not-quite-vocals gradually evolve into a mesmerising loop of eerie synths and electronic beeps. It’s beautifully done, and the resulting listening experience is otherworldly and hypnotic.

Let Fly Thy Vagabond Heart by Ghost Signs is a track of ethereal drone and synth sounds that relax and uplift as they wash over you. It’s beautiful stuff, and I found myself transported away from my surroundings as the music unfolded.

I’ve been a huge fan of Scottish dark ambient musician SVR for several months now, so I was delighted to discover the inclusion of this new, exclusive track on the album. And A Promise is another fantastic example of the minimalist electronic drone music this talented artist creates – with experimental lo-fi soundscapes so deep you can lose yourself in them.

Fantasy in Flashing Lights by Volunteer Coroner would be the perfect soundtrack to a post-apocalyptic movie. Eerie drones combine with the sounds of roaring flames and decaying tarpaulin flapping in the wind. Distant voices echo from the world left behind, a reminder of everything that was lost in the nuclear hellfire.

My House is Torn Down Every Evening by Eppu Kaipainen feat Embry お兄ちゃん is an unsettling track, in which slowly repeating electronic wailing is accompanied by desperate, terrified sobbing, and softly spoken vocals that somehow manage to be both soothing and sinister. It’s an uncomfortable listen, but a rewarding and strangely enjoyable one.

Augur by Employee of the Month is a minimalist track, with dense layers of drone subtly blended with electronic static and glitches. This is a wonderfully dark and eerie piece, imbued with an underlying sense of dread and otherness that stays with the listener long after it’s finished playing.

Gaunt by Güsh starts with the looping sound of whispering by someone in pain, before the synth and drones come to the fore, along with a repeating pattern of electronic glitches and disquieting tones. As the track develops, so do the feelings of apprehension experienced by the listener. This is powerful music that leaves you catching your breath at its sheer intensity.

αδυναμία, έλλειψη, λεπτότητα, χαύνωση by Σπαταλώ χρόνο sounds like the soundtrack to a terrifying sci-fi / horror movie. Haunting drones are expertly combined with strange alien echoes, subtle electronic beeps and noises… and the breathing of something distinctly non-human. There is a real depth to this track, with multiple layers of sound that mean that each play of it rewards the listener with something new.

The final track on the album, Projection Forecast by Seed Faith, begins with what sounds like someone – or something – walking through dank sewers, as an underlying sense of tension grows. Gradually, synths are added to the mix, and the track becomes more melancholic, and almost uplifting – though the unsettling nature of the track remains. It ends the album beautifully, striking the perfect balance between the darkness and the light, and leaving the listener touched by what they’re heard.

This is an incredibly impressive collection of tracks, and if you’re a fan of dark ambient, drone, or experimental music then it is definitely worth checking out. Decaying Spheres have done an amazing job of pulling together 10 tracks of such high quality, that each offer something different – I’ve had this album on repeat play since I first got it, and I cannot wait to see what this label releases next.

Written by Rich Dodgin

 

Links

Decaying Spheres label bandcamp

Bonzaii bandcamp

Hynta bandcamp

Ghost Signs bandcamp

SVR bandcamp

Volunteer Coroner bandcamp

Eppu Kaipainen bandcamp

Embry お兄ちゃん

Employee of the Month bandcamp

Güsh bandcamp

Σπαταλώ χρόνο bandcamp

Seed Faith bandcamp

 

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

Page 1 of 17

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

%d bloggers like this: