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The Inner Sanctum – A Dark Ambient Vlog: Episode I

Editor’s note: This first episode of Joseph’s was uploaded on Youtube on 20 March 2018. The following is Joseph’s personal introduction to his new series!

The Inner Sanctum: A Dark Ambient Vlog is a new video project series of mine where I’ll be talking about/reviewing/nerding-out on various aspects of dark ambient music and it’s related sub-genres.

In this first episode, I talk about two of my favorite albums, namely Seishinbyouin by Atrium Carceri and Inner Passage by Beneath the Lake.

This is my first time vlogging, but it’s something that has always intrigued me, and I figured, like anything in life, this is as good as any time to try it out. Most of what you see in the following 25 minutes was highly improvised, and (for better or worse) performed without any special rehearsals beforehand. Comments are highly appreciated and feedback of any sort is welcome! Thanks to everyone that has been checking out and subscribing to this channel [Joseph’s Youtube channel for his dark ambient project Noctilucant].

Thanks so much!

The Vlog itself is named after a Sabled Sun song — a project of Simon Heath (Atrium Carceri, Za Frumi, Abnocto, Cryo Chamber).

Episode Contents:
00:00 Introduction
05:14 Atrium Carceri: Seishinbyouin
16:15 Beneath the Lake: Inner Passage
24:09 End Credits
25:19 Outtakes

Dark Ambient 101: 10. General Advice

10. General Advice

a. What are the best aspects of creating dark ambient?

Kammarheit: It is a great tool for dreamers and introverts. The music allows us to go on adventures in our own minds, which is a wonderful thing. The music can be a helping hand to reach other worlds for a moment. A tool to express or re-create these worlds. For me, it began as a way to deal with insomnia and a way to explore a certain type of environment I kept picturing in my head. The music kept me occupied and was a good companion, that made sure I was still experiencing a sort of dream world, even if I couldn’t sleep. Today, it is so implemented in my life that I can’t imagine being without the mindset this music puts me in. An everyday feeling of awe.

Aegri Somnia: Freedom and endless possibilities of sound design. You really can do what you want, how you want.

Seesar: For me, the best aspects of creating dark ambient music are the incorporation of my most exciting influences and my lifestyle into a creative form, resulting in artistic output that I can embrace, with the possibility of making it my vocation. The musical possibilities are unlimited, and always exciting, and ever inspiring. The dark ambient genre continually provides an body of works that truly is enriching and unequaled.

The genre is only a mile wide, but a thousand miles deep.
– Simon Heath (Atrium Carceri)

Skadi: For me, dark ambient creation is a catalyst of emotions. As some people use a diary to write down their thoughts, producing dark ambient music is also a method to “write” down the feelings. Dark ambient gives the best opportunity to express yourself. Creating dark ambient music is a true relief.

protoU: The opportunity to play with listeners’ minds. You can manipulate and influence them. It makes me feel like a cool kid, that makes grown-ups live a fantasy through sound.

Shrine: The joy of the music.

Sonologyst: It gives you the possibility to be in deep connection with your profound states of mind.

Taphephobia: I improvise a lot. So, for me, it is to create something that used to be completely unknown to me, in the first place. To create something I hadn’t imagined or known about before.

Treha Sektori: The surprises, the physical experience.

b. What are the worst/hardest aspects of creating dark ambient?

Ugasanie: For me it’s an idea, a concept. If I do not have an idea or any history (I call it “have a legend”) – I will not create anything. Just because it does not work. For me, this is the basis. When I have an idea, I start to hear how it should all sound.

Treha Sektori: Not repeating yourself.

Kammarheit: Staying awake in the studio is the hardest aspect of creating this kind of music. Once a meditative loop is playing, I feel the urge to lay down and start dreaming. I take more naps in my chair than I care to admit. And, I have the back problems to prove it.

Pär Boström’s studio

Mebitek: To be original, and to create non-boring things.

Seesar: Perhaps, not repeating musical motifs to a fault. I have many compositional and performative favourites. So, reusing them is something that happens occasionally. I have to regulate my use of certain sounds and dynamic patterns, to ensure I do not risk my pieces sounding the same. But, also, without losing sight of my stylistic traits I have honed. There is a balance I must observe, but it is not so much of a hardship. Rather, a challenge that assists in formulating my personal contribution to the body of works in the genre.

Skadi: When you have to deal with thoughts/emotions, which you want to transfer to music, but you’re not able to. It’s hard to have sounds and melodies in your head, but cannot put them together as a track. That’s probably the hardest aspect of dark ambient, for me.

protoU: The darkness of it sometimes comes into your life, but it is only a matter of your mindset and control. I am very emotional, empathic, etc., but I try to manage that currently.

Shrine: The pain of the music production, in case you care about good sound quality.

Sonologyst: There aren’t bad aspects, for me.

Taphephobia: There are times when I feel numb, and every time I record something, it sounds uninspired. It can be really hard. It is also hard, when you have a deadline and you just feel drained after work or other activities that have nothing to do with the music.

c. What are some things that an amateur should avoid doing at all costs?

Shrine: Instead of talking only about things that should be avoided, I’d rather share some general thoughts here:
It is best to check your mixes on different sets of speakers. If you can only have one pair, get the biggest ones you can afford (only if your room is big enough). Listen to your mixes really loud for a moment – the human ear’s frequency response is not linear, and it will deceive you, if you listen quietly all the time. Get a pair of studio headphones (not hi-fi, they are usually biased), and use them to check details when composing and mixing. Never mix only on headphones, though. And, never do mastering on headphones. Avoid low quality sound sources (be it synths or samples). It will be hard or impossible to fix later. Understand the essence of equalization. Why it is important to achieve loud and powerful mixes. Understand the essence of compression and side-chain compression, and why they are important to achieve loud and powerful mixes. Know what dynamic range is, and why is important. Know what a headroom is, and why is important. Understand the difference between perceived loudness and actual loudness Learn how to use loudness measuring tools. Do not use dynamic-range measuring tools, though. They don’t understand ambient. Remember that, when it comes to loudness and sonic power, less is more. A track with too many sounds will never achieve the same level of perceived loudness as a track with fewer sounds. And finally, but most important of all, take long breaks from the music you are working on. It’s a common psychological phenomenon that, when you spend too much time on something, you stop seeing (hearing) it realistically. Taking a break that is at least a couple of days long will show you the difference between good music and boring music the next time you listen. I, personally, delete about 70% of everything I compose. At the time of composing, all sounds great. But, a week later… not so much.

Treha Sektori: Try to succeed at any cost. It’s by falling that we find our way.

Artwork by: Dehn Sora / Treha Sektori from ‘The Sensation of Being One of Them’ artbook.

Stuzha: Spending lots of money on equipment, and not using it afterwards!

Mebitek: You can do all for free, as you can find some good, free VST’s and a good, free DAW (Reaper).

Seesar: I would suggest, rushing the completion of new works could be an issue. Take your time and develop your pieces. Try not to fall into traps of producing tracks that are easy to make. Making dark ambient music need not be difficult, but hastily creating a work can result in a lack of reflection that will be quickly noticed by fans and critics. Furthermore, seek something unique to inject into the genre. Respecting and utilizing staple musical elements of the genre is completely acceptable, of course. But, introducing personalized nuances to your tracks will not only gain fans, but also a means to cultivate your self-expression, and carve your niche in dark ambient music.

Skadi: First off, spending too much money into equipment, without knowing if you will stick to music production or not. Secondly, starting to think that your production is crap. Even if the early work sounds less impressive or complex, it’s still a part of the composer. If you don’t like aspects of your tracks, try to improve them to get better. Defining one’s own work as crap will most likely stop the composer from producing more.

protoU: Using samples without permission of the author. Using ambient as a way to convey very bad emotion.

Ugasanie: Lack of interest in what you are doing. Also, do not adjust to someone, do not copy their sound, effects, and/or tricks.

Taphephobia: Don`t try to copy others. Make your own signature sound. Don`t ask people how to do everything for you. It is good to ask for advice, when it comes to creating music, but don`t let others do the steps for you.

d. How frequently should an artist aim for releasing albums (several times a year?, once a year?, once a month?)

Kammarheit: I have tried both things. An album each ninth year and a few albums each year. I can’t say for sure what I think is the best. I seem to have an endless need for exploring and expressing things with music. If I have put my heart into an album, and I feel that it is truly completed, and that I have lived it, then I think it should be released. Just don’t be one of those people who have a hundred albums that all sound the same, on their Bandcamp page. Or, even worse, hundreds of albums that don’t seem to have anything in common. Not everything we create needs to be made public.

Shrine: Once a month? Seriously? Unless your aim is to release uninspired cheap cliches that have been done hundreds of times already, this seems like a really bad idea. You better take your time.

Treha Sektori: Which ever time they feel that it is the right moment.

Stuzha: Quality vs quantity… In music, the former is, and always will be, more important. Take your time.

Seesar: That entirely depends on your level of professional engagement, your support of your releases, and your connection to labels or other means of disseminating your works. If you are planning and able to support your releases with live tours, then releasing full collections of tracks should be less frequent. However, if you are primarily a studio artist, then producing more works and making them available online should be far more frequent. In either case, you should always compose and release a variety of tracks in smaller settings, such as compilations and stand-alone videos, continually, to keep your fans interested in your music and aware of your style. For me, I prefer to release three full albums a year, and approximately eight to ten tracks on compilations or videos. I perform live, when possible. But, the regularity of live performance fluctuates depending on many factors. Regardless of frequency, I recommend playing live to support your music as much as you can. The combination of live shows and recorded releases is invaluable for the professional dark ambient artist.

Skadi: It’s helpful to improve the awareness of people by releasing one or even more albums per year. However, I don’t think that any producer should force his or herself to produce albums. Dark ambient is very personal and emotional, and so the emotions and situation should fit during the creative phase.

protoU: I think several times a year is more than enough.

Sonologyst: Every artist has to find their own way for that. It’s impossible to give general advice. In my case, I found the good and natural rhythm working on one release a year. And, I don’t exclude to increase the interval between two works. That allows me a major deepness, awareness and consciousness of what I’m going to do. Basically, I start a work when I really have something to communicate. After I’m aware of that, I need time to explore how to communicate it.

Taphephobia: It is impossible to say, because labels do not always release the music right after it is finished. Personally I find it kind of confusing when artists for example release 5 records in a year. But, that is me. Do they make music all the time, or they just make some fast McDonald’s ambient to spread to the masses!?

Ugasanie: However it goes. I try to release an album when I feel that the album is ready and everything is in place. How many times a year? It does not matter. Of course, I would like to do this more often. But I work on two jobs almost without days off for 12 – 16 hours a day. I do not have much time for music. All that I create is done contrary to circumstances and because of a lack of sleep.

e. Should a musician know the history of the genre before creating their own music?

Treha Sektori: I don’t think so. Might be even more interesting to have your own work without knowing any standards and get into it with virgin ears.

Aegri Somnia: Absolutely. What is the point, if you do music and don’t know the history nor are you a fan of the specific music genre that you have decided to make.

Stuzha: Not at all.

Mebitek: I think that is not important. A musican should know what he’s doing. That is enough.

Seesar: Before creating their own music? No, not necessarily. Should an artist know the styles and their development within dark ambient music? Absolutely. If not coming into the genre, then learning over time as you embrace the genre. It is a useful means to cultivating your own style, being aware of what is happening in your area of music, and, of course, it is fun and exciting. That being said, creating new works without a depth of knowledge of the genre is perfectly acceptable, and can assist in creating new directions and forms. Either way, engaging in your music with creative fervor is the key, no matter how much you inform yourself about the genre beforehand.

Skadi: It’s not required but recommended to know at least some history of dark ambient.

protoU: I think a musician should be aware, but it is not some kind of school or university. So, there are no strict rules here. Maybe, music naturally comes out of a person’s mind, before knowing it is dark ambient. Before knowing what it’s about.

Sonologyst: Not necessarily. But, it would be a crime to ignore all that beautiful music created in the latest decades.

Taphephobia: Some basic knowledge is important, like knowing what not to do.
I personally stay away from an elitist way of thinking. Good music is good music. Freedom to make music to be the music you want is more important than having the right records in your collection. Personally, I don’t care what the creator is listening to at home, or how much he/she knows about the genre. If they don`t know anything they would probably make other kind of music.

f. What advice would you give to a person just coming into dark ambient, as a potential artist?

Kammarheit: Spend time with your concept, know what you want to express. Have patience and don’t expect your music to instantly sound like the perfect mixture of all the established bands you like so much. Maybe, start as a minimal drone project, and gradually add more elements to the music. See what you can do with the equipment you already have. And most of all, don’t sit and wait for inspiration. Open the program or connect the equipment and see what happens. Do this a few times and inspiration should come. At least, that is how these things works for me. Procrastination is for the soul crushing everyday tasks, not for creativity.

Procrastination is for the soul crushing everyday tasks, not for creativity.
– Pär Boström (Kammarheit)

protoU: I would recommend to listen and absorb nature and the city. Dark ambient has no strict rules or limits. It is about nature, environment and feeling. So, as long as you listen to the surrounding and get the vibe of it, you will convey it nicely into a dark ambient track.

Atrium Carceri: Innovate, don’t imitate. Have a vision of what you want the listener to experience. Think visually if going for a cinematic vibe. What do the sounds represent? Be clear on why sounds are panned to where they are in the mix. If the audio was a soundtrack for a movie, what would the scene look like? Once you get a clear picture of the scene, you can start building it up as an audio representation. The click of a blinking tail light from a crashed car. The hiss of smoke from the smashed hood. The sway of trees in the wind. Gravel creaking as the subject walks from the left side of the screen (speaker) to the right. The freedom to build scenes like this is what separates dark ambient from other genres. Have fun with that.

Treha Sektori: Dig, fail, try again.

Artwork by: Dehn Sora / Treha Sektori from ‘The Sensation of Being One of Them’ artbook.

Sonologyst: Work with passion and don’t be in a hurry. Don’t release huge amounts of music, just to show the audience what is going on. That is a mistake many people make. The process of improving your own style should be something private.

Taphephobia: Find the music program you are most comfortable with using. And, learn to play an instrument. You don’t have to be a really good musician, but it will make it much more interesting, and it gives the music a very personal feeling. Learn to make drones and a good flow. There is nothing worse than a track that sounds unfinished, and lacks this flow. Never give up, even if you get some bad feedback. It is more important to have friends that say what they really mean, than friends that tell you it is good because they are afraid to hurt your feelings.

Skadi: Listen to your inner self. Listen to your emotions. Let it flow into the music you want to create. Try not to please other people with your music, but produce music you like. Don’t be ashamed, be inspired by other bands. Find your own way and style, step by step.

Ugasanie: Do the music that you like most. Do the music you want to listen to yourself.

Aegri Somnia: Take your time. The only imortant thing is that you like what you do.

Stuzha: If you do music, do it only for you. Others might like it, but don’t be disappointed if they don’t!

Mebitek: Be original and always experiment!

Seesar: Listen, reflect, and be inspired. Dark ambient music is a form of composition and performance that draws heavily from emotion and intelligent critical thinking simultaneously (as with many forms of creativity, of course, but particularly in the case of dark ambient). Research your influences. That does not mean specifically other dark ambient artists. In my case, it means reading Lovecraftian fiction and learning about Italian Futurist composition and aesthetic concepts. Whatever drives you, embrace it. Allow it to assist you in formulating your compositions and personal style. Use what means you have at your disposal to inform your particular nuances. Know you are entering into a very unique and welcoming genre, where assistance, discussions, collaborations, and camaraderie are constants. Enjoy and flourish!
A few more explicit pieces of advice I may impart include: be sure to explore the treatment of your sounds and samples, to find methods you prefer and timbre you want. Then, compose afterwards. Creating a new piece can be approached in a plethora of ways, from recording tracks and manipulating them, to taking samples and building a soundscape from those, to live, untreated sound production. Find the compositional approach that suits you and your aesthetic best, including the treatment of sounds to make your composing faster, more enjoyable, and professional.
Also, take the time to analyze your methods and music periodically. Assess whether or not you feel you are engaging with your music as you would like. Are you wasting time? Are you getting the sounds you want? Are you getting the number of releases you expect? Do you feel your work is professional? Is your business as a dark ambient artist composer and performer reaching the goals you set for yourself, creatively and financially? By taking just a few moments on occasion to think about some of these questions, you can find strengths to embrace and less strong areas to improve, keeping your music fresh and your work as a professional musician moving forward.

Conducted by: Michael Barnett

Next: Dark Ambient 101: Artists’ Sites & Social Media
Read the full article.

Frozen In Time: Dark Ambient News – March 2018

The move is over and things are starting to settle again here at This Is Darkness. So, you can all expect to see lots of new things coming along in the near future. Some articles and projects that have been in the works for months will be coming to completion and unveiled very soon! In sticking with the vision for these Frozen In Time articles, I’ve spent the last week digging through every dark ambient related release that has surfaced since our last Frozen In Time post. I’m going to be a little more selective from here forward with the news shared as things like weekly singles and incredibly prolific artists can make it hard for newcomers or casual followers to find the newest releases of the highest quality. These kinds of things aren’t an exact science, so if you feel I missed something extremely important, feel free to reach out!

-Michael Barnett

New Releases & Preorders

Ager Sonus – New Album Released (Cryo Chamber – CD/Digital)
“Ager Sonus is back with his second Egyptian themed album on Cryo Chamber, the first being Book of the Black Earth.
You open your eyes. Darkness. Silence. Oppressing silence. Your breath feels shallow, the air too thin to breathe. The space you are in feels narrow, the ceiling so close you can almost touch it. Your heart starts pounding as the feeling of panic brings you to your senses. You seem to be.. Underground, buried!
How did you get here? Fragments of your memories hover in front of you in the darkness like thin layers of fog, guiding you. Sand.. A desert.. Symbols.. Hieroglyphs… A faint voice calling you..
Ager Sonus brings us an ambient album set against the backdrop of lost civilization. Explore occult secrets buried in ancient tombs.”

Astral & Shit – New Album Released (Black Mara – CD/Digital)
“Like a monolithic stone this album reveals the secrets of the Universe for the questioner. Beneath the veil of its darkness hides the depth of the beginning of time.
This album is something alien but familiar the Earth. That once came out of the Earth and now once again reunited. It was so long ago that we the living can’t appreciate with common sense that has been revealed to us. Alarming and dangerous, but beautiful at the same time, it is Divo.”

Atrium Carceri & Herbst9 – New Album Released (Cryo Chamber – LP/CD/Digital)
(Check out our review here!)
Ambient Veterans Atrium Carceri & Herbst9 team up on this mysterious album.
The harbor was humid and hot in this mysterious land, nothing like the frosty cold ports of home. Yellow smoke danced to the beat of the drum joined by hypnotic women. The crowd spiraled inward, dancing to far away bells and the murmur beneath the ground.
You awoke sweat clad in linen sheets, the naked woman passed a long pipe. The cherry sparked red like a dragons eye. Head leaned back against a soft pillow, body free falling from soothed skies. A thud as your body hit the ground on a pathway built by giants.
Chanting, ritual drumming and spoken word weave in and out of this album that pays tribute to the old ways.

Babalith – New Album Released (Sombre Soniks – Digital)
“Gramatique du Ciel is inspired by the intuitive and primal language of sound, as it is taught within sensitive nature, and is structured according to the seven spheres of paradise, in a way contrasting with Inferno, my second album for the label. Because of its peculiar linguistic shape, it is dedicated to the memory of the Portuguese sage António Telmo.”

Carlo Giustini – New Album Released (ACR – Cassette/Digital)
‘La stanza di fronte’ or ‘The Other Room’, is Carlo Guistini’s first work released under his own name. this highly conceptual release – the four tracks were recorded in four different rooms of a house built in 1966 – explores our relationship with homes, with the matter they are made of and with the scents that impregnate their walls.
Carlo Giustini recorded these 4 serene pieces by placing two microphones and two dictaphones in the corner of each room. the tones and the harmonies are translations of the vibrations of the house itself, Carlo’s movements, and the noise of moving objects. the opening track even includes unexplained sounds and footsteps captured in one of the rooms while the house was empty and the mics were on.
“No need for the outside, as the walls, heavy as boulders, become the breath of a world that won’t preach any sound. The humming of the mould and the cracks over the door jambs become companions to whom entrust your thoughts. And there’s no need for anything else.”

Darkrad – New Album Released (audiophob – CD/Digital)
“Jana Komaritsa presents the new album of her project Darkrad – Heart Murmur, released on German label audiophob. With this album she continues the theme of inner blackness and disturbances of mind, weaving the canvas of ominous world. Heart Murmur is a medical condition, when the sound of blood flowing can be heard in between regular heartbeat cycle. Darkrad creates swishing rumbling sounds of the tortured heart, sounds from the reality not seen, from the world not known, sounds from the dread, both inner and outer. Merging melancholic dark ambient passages, bitter melodies, disturbed vocals and raw noisy sounds, rhythms and basslines, she opens the door to the infinite dark and offers the listener to dive into the world beyond. Pure unrestrained emotion interweaves with once suppressed memories and fears, merging into one flow of hypnotic soundscape. Listen to her grim heart murmur, pulsating and vibrating in between the regular healthy heartbeat, frightful signals sent from the other side, penetrating the normal reality and spreading into our world. The album also includes bonus tracks: compilation contributions and former tape releases, partially in new versions, as well as remixes from Flint Glass and Mortaja.”

Day Before Us – New Album Released (GH Records – CD/Digital)
“Adorned path of Stillness » marks the return of the neoclassical and dark ambient music act Day Before Us on the Argentina based label Twilight Records, in collaboration with GH Records. This is their sixth full length release. This new effort is an enthralling soundtrack for dark, solemn, thoughtful times. It incorporates acoustic and lyrical sections next to electronic textures and diverse processed sounds.
The general atmosphere offers precious moments of introspective melancholia punctuated by mysteriously hypnotic instrumentals. This is a multifaceted album but also remarkably cohesive with many dynamics, emotional movements that will ravish fans of haunting and touching cinematic music in a rather classical mood.”

DeepDark – New Album Released (Digital Only)
After a very busy period of releases over the last year or two, DeepDark seems to have settled a bit and is now releasing his first album of 2018, Leaking From His Own Pores.

Eidulon – Preorders Available (Malignant – CD/Digital)
“Following an 11 year absence since his debut, Idolatriae, Eidulon returns a radically different entity. Whereas Idolatriae was haunting and minimal catacomb ambience, Combustioni is otherwise now a daunting, full on apocalyptic industrial, auditory excursion, complete with crushingly ominous brass chords, fearsome horn proclamations, organ, and doom filled atmospherics. Contributions of murderous, gnarled vocals courtesy of Nordvargr and Luca Soi, as well as caustic noise from Italian heavy electronic practitioners Naxal Protocol (ex-Cazzodio) add a powerful element, often cutting through a blaze of swelling tones and pneumatic percussive pummel, the only respite coming in the form of collaborative tracks with Kammarheit and Caul, which sees Eidulon returning to the foggy gloom and bleak isolationism that populated the debut. Collectively, it’s quite the provocative declaration, shattering genre barriers and setting the soundtrack for a world of incinerated cities, global plagues, and nuclear winters.”
Releases March 25, 2018

Flowers For Bodysnatchers – New EP Released (Digital Only)
Flowers for Bodysnatchers has taken us into a variety of interesting places and scenarios over the last few years. This time we go to one of the most repulsive times in human memory, the Nazi holocaust, at the scene of a gruesome slaughter at Babi Yar, northwest of Kiev, which took place over the course of two days in September 1941. Not for the faint-hearted.

Grim Heka – New Album Released (Digital Only)
Grim Heka is a Dark Ambient project from Darren Coyle. Composed on Eurorack modular synthesis, often improvised and recorded live. Tale of the Picts is his self-released debut album.

Hadewych – New Album Released (Malignant – CD/Digital)
“Though the project of Dutchman Peter Johan Nÿland, contributions from members of Trepaneringsritualen, Dead Neanderthals, Turia and veteran experimental vocalist Greetje Bijma, help Hadewych to function more as a collective as it amorphously shapeshifts and navigates through a broad swath of styles. And yet, Welving is so finely honed and skillfully crafted, that it works as a singular,whole, never losing a firm grasp on what remains at the core of its unique and dynamic sound. Still, it is nearly impossible to classify or define, utilizing a broad array of instrumentation, working in the monolithic, organic and the acoustic, and filtering it through a complex network of darkened, post-industrial, post-black, ritual hallucinations, and noir-ish Bohren And Der Club Of Gore deathjazz, with a steady stream of insistent bass, percussion, and spoken narrative to propel many of the tracks forward. Hadewych defines their music as black rituals channeling the ultra-grotesque, which is about an apt description as you’re going to find, and yet it’s that vagueness and ambiguity that manages to sum them up perfectly. One of the most unique and exceptional releases under the Malignant banner, and highly recommended for those unafraid to venture into realms unknown.”

Kalpamantra – New Malignant Records Compilation Unveiled
(Kalpamantra – Digital Only)
The Portrait of Mortality is the next massive compilation in this series on Kalpamantra net-label which includes artists exclusively from the Malignant Records roster. Expect to see solo and/or collaborative tracks from all your favorite Malignant artists!

Kloob – New Album Released (Winter-Light – CD/Digital)
“Here on ‘Remarkable Events’, Kloob has brought a darker, much more intense, rich feel to his music, quite different from some of his previous works. The tracks switch between dark and light and you can feel the influence of his recent Eastern travels, crackling in the air, in the field recordings, in the synth sweeps and patterns and in the sonic landscapes that the album creates and carries you along. Make no mistake, this is not an album filled with the chants of Hindu monks and the busy clatter of every day Indian life. It is an intensely spiritual album, which for its duration will take you along the same paths traversed by the artist himself.”

Land:Fire – Live Album Released – (Shortwave Transmissions – Digital Only)
These two recordings are from May 13-14th 2006 at the Sonic Lodge at Weezie/Galerie für zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig.

Mrako-Su – New Album Released (ΠΑΝΘΕΟΝ – CD/Digital)
“Coldest hour before sunrise. Moonlit valley covered with snow. Sharp outlines of pines standing still. Everything seems static, no single move, no birds or beasts, no clouds in the bottomless sky. The air is an invisible, perfectly transparent crystal. Endless quietly ringing sound seems to pervade everything… Is it real? Echo of this question falls into a void of silence. No one answers. Nothing moves. But the feeling is here, the presence, the instinct. Something is lurking, something is hiding… Remaining at the edge of sight line all the time. Maybe it’s shadows, their predatory spikes. Perhaps it is the flickering of snow… Firstly unnoticeable vibration becomes evident, it has the rhythm, overtones. It calls someone… Maybe you?”

Nordvargr – Preorders Available (Cyclic Law – LP/Cassette/CD/Digital)
“With great honour we welcome one of Sweden’s most revered craftsman of industrial soundscapes. “Metempsychosis”, the transmigration of the soul, is the basic concept for the new album from Henrik Nordvargr Björkk. However, not in the classic reincarnative sense, but as a study of how souls rather than being judged by a higher power, themselves chooses what flesh to inhabit. To freely roam between the dimensions and to cling on to any form of life at will. These cycles of life and death, bound in part by flesh, inspired to create these tense and organic atmospheres – all synonymous with the journey of the soul. The result is a natural evolution of Nordvargr´s trademark darkness into more rhythmic and vocal compositions where the confrontational stance of Henrik´s other projects shines through; from the harsh bombast of MZ. 412 to the vocals of Anima Nostra, all surrounded by the darkest Scandinavian aura of horror. Featuring guest vocals by Trepaneringsritualen on the track “First East” and stunning artwork by Dehn Sora. Both LP & CS versions feature a different track listing than the CD & Digital versions.”

Northaunt – New Album Released (Glacial Movements – CD/Digital)
***Read our review here.***
“Northaunt is the ambient project of Norwegian Hærleif Langås, and has since the late nineties released 4 albums where the signature sound is a mix of field recording from nature, soundscapes and ambient, inspired by norse nature and landscapes and our role as a part of nature.
The composing of ISTID came as a reaction to our modern lifes, our world and how it sometimes seem confusing, stressful and noisy. Put of by all this and inspired by books about earths history, iceages and the forces that formed the landscapes we have today, Hærleif started making ISTID, Iceage in Norwegian, to imagine a world of silence before man. This is the 3rd album in the series and we can now imagine man is about to start his lonely quest for meaning in the desolation.”

Nubiferous – New Album Released (Digital Only)
Nubiferous is an artist I’ve been following for sometime. His music consistently moves under-the-radar, leaving his name a novelty to many dark/ritual ambient listeners. As with his earlier work, you can expect some raw ritual ambient with hints of tribal and folk music. His style is something of a cold, far-northern ritual ambient.

Phelios – Live Album Released (rabbau – Cassette/Digital)
“In 2015, Phelios enchanted russia with his outstanding performance. while listening, we more and more feel like cosmonauts diving deeper into the universe of this gifted musician, with every track being a microcosm of breathtaking beauty that we pass through on our journey. the foundation of these nine sparkling compositions are crystal-clear synth pads which are layered into sounds capes at various shades of dark ambient. combined with ritualistic drum patterns that pick up the pace in between droning bells, we awake from ‘hibernation’ until we reach ‘atlantis’ with its soft strings that brush away the last attachments we may have had to planet earth.
Martin Stürtzer, the mastermind behind the project, has truly left his fingerprint on the ambient music community. next to arranging concert series taking place in a church, he also pioneered in organizing his own performances within the wagon of a suspension railway, demonstrating his musical talent at the ‘schwebebahnkonzert’ in wuppertal in 2007. in line with his ongoing commitment to creativity, phelios again invites his audience on board to enjoy the excellence of his work – back in st. petersburg and moscow and now on raubbau. for those who already fell for phelios creations, two previously unreleased tracks, ‘timelord’ and ‘cloud sector gamma’ have now found their way on this very record. but whether you are already familiar with phelios or not – this album simply is a must-have for everyone who appreciates complex ambient music on the highest level.”

protoU – New Album Released (Cryo Chamber – CD/Digital)
“Sasha further explores the themes of her first collaboration album Earth Songs. While her album “Khmaoch” explored the roots of civilization, “The Edge of Architecture” probes into the future of the modern age.
Black gigantic buildings loom over our hubris as we reach for the unnatural with each new brick in the wall. The night reeks of dark fluid as flickering neon lights reflect on wet streets. Winds howl over a jungle of steel and shadows of automated builders creak in the distance.
Field recordings blend with deep drone and ethereal overlays on this immersive album. For lovers of Sasha’s unique style of cold and warm ambient blended together into an emotional ride.”

Randal Collier-Ford – New Track Released (Digital Only)
“‘Anti-Meme’ is an updated version of the song, “Disgust”, featured exclusively at live shows. ‘Anti-Meme’, originally created 3 years ago for live shows only, features a mix of “horror” elements and themes taken from the roots of albums such as, Dark Corners, De Vivis Somnium Mortis, Putredinis Illusiones Putredinis Illusiones. Adding this together with the first stages of live mixing industrial constructions for live shows (and future studio albums), ‘Anti-Meme’ was meant to settle the building atmospheres of live acts, fused with the visuals of an altar with candles and bones.”

Ruairi O’Baoighill – New Album Released (Cursed Monk – CD/Digital)
To See Without Eyes is the final album in his trilogy, which also includes the albums Walpurgis and The Faceless One.

Sana Obruent – New Album Released (Digital Only)
“Recorded at the TSC Hideaway Studio – Somewhere In California – March 1, 2018. Thank you Electro Harmonix, Fender & Tascam. No synthesizers or keyboards are used in this recording.”

Taylor Deupree – New Album Released (12k Music – CD/Digital)
“…Fallen was supposed to be, after all, a relaxed album, one that would come quickly, off-the-cuff, and with little regard to any rules or restrictions. It, however, ended up being one of the longest albums for me to create; well over a year and a half, as it had coincided with a particularly dark and difficult time in my personal life.
As the album progressed the thoughts of a freer, solo-piano sound quickly faded as layers of disintegration and noise came to the foreground. Half-broken tape machines and plenty of ghostly echoes helped hide the honesty of the piano as I hid myself, and my music, away under the cover of abstraction…”

Ugasanie – Preorders Available (Cryo Chamber – CD/Digital)
“Ugasanie returns with his 5th album on Cryo Chamber. This time exploring the vast landscapes of Antarctica.
The snowstorm builds on the horizon as the ice crackles under your feet. The faint call of someone beyond the blinding blizzard.
A subdued and chilly album in the isolated style that is Ugasanie’s expertise.”
Releases 6 March 2018.

Winterblood – New Album Released (Grey Matter – CD/Digital)
On L’ingresso, Italian dark ambient artist Winterblood takes us into a bleak and frigid lo-fi atmosphere, full of eerie elements lurking in the darkness. The opening track “Waldeinsamkeit II” follows it’s predecessor in the use of blisteringly cold wind rushing past the field recording microphone. The analog snythesizer becomes increasingly prevalant giving the album an ever grittier edge as it progresses.

Yann Novak – New Album Released (Touch – CD/Digital)
“The Future is a Forward Escape Into the Past is the latest album by Los Angeles-based multidisciplinary artist and composer Yann Novak, and his second for Touch. It considers the relationships between memory, time, and context through four vibrantly constructed tracks that push Novak’s work in a new direction while simultaneously exploring his sonic past. ‘The Future is a Forward Escape Into the Past’ is composed as a quadriptych – a single gesture broken into four parts – that meditates on the inevitable progression of time, our relationship to the past, and our distortion of the past through the imperfections of memory.”

Other News

Infinity Land Press – New Book Released
“Infinity Land Press is pleased to announce the release of Thatcher’s Tomb by Stephen Barber, an apocalyptic novel.
The book is illustrated by Martin Bladh and comes with an interview, with the author, conducted by Steve Finbow.
n an alternative narrative of Thatcher’s 1979 rise to power – in which her regime unrestrainedly carries through the razing of resistant cities and the extermination of all opposition – forces of insurgency have to adopt aberrant strategies and inhabit subterranean, occluded spaces to combat that regime. One insurgent cell, in the North of England, conducts a dangerous adventurous journey through decimated and depopulated lands, via such sites as the Queen’s Hotel Leeds, the Denge Acoustic Mirrors and the Hinkley Point Nuclear Reactors, in order to summon up the means to sustain their insurrection of the subsequent decades, until all of England has been transformed into the form of a mausoleum of itself, created and abandoned by Thatcher and her successors, and ‘the problem of England’ in its cruelty and banality takes on an outlandish life of its own.”
Available to purchase here.

Infinity Land Press – Pre-orders Available
“Antonin Artaud’s 1937 apocalyptic journey to Ireland and his writings from that journey form an extraordinary moment of accumulating disintegration and tenacious creativity in his work. After publishing a manifesto prophecy about the catastrophic immediate-future entitled The New Revelations of Being, Artaud abruptly left Paris and travelled to Ireland, remaining there for six weeks and existing without money, travelling first to the isolated island of Inishmore off Ireland’s western coast, then to Galway, and finally to Dublin, where he was arrested as an undesirable alien, beaten by the police, and summarily deported back to France. On his return, he spent nine years in lunatic asylums, including the entire span of the Second World War. During that journey to Ireland – on which he accumulated signs of his forthcoming apocalypse, and planned his own role in it as ‘THE REVEALED ONE’ – Artaud wrote letters to friends in Paris and also created several magic spells, intended to curse his enemies and to protect his friends from Paris’s forthcoming incineration and the Antichrist’s appearance at the Deux Magots cafe. To André Breton, he wrote: ‘It’s the Unbelievable – yes, the Unbelievable – it’s the Unbelievable which is the truth.’ Many of his writings from Ireland were lost, and this book collects all of his surviving letters, drawn together from archives and private collections, together with photographs of the locations he travelled through. This edition, with an afterword and notes by the book’s translator/editor, Stephen Barber, marks the seventieth anniversary of Artaud’s death.”

Available for pre-order here!

 

Recent Reviews on This Is Darkness

Atrium Carceri, Cities Last Broadcast & God Body Disconnect
Miles To Midnight (Cryo Chamber)

“Miles to Midnight is a brilliant and novel release for Cryo Chamber. Following on the footsteps of their recent release Heralds by Wordclock, Cryo Chamber takes the dark jazz elements in an even more focused direction. While they are obviously a dark ambient label at heart, it’s great to see them taking chances and testing the waters of different genre influences, which should ultimately make for a more diverse catalog of releases and widen their fan-base even further. A highly recommended release especially, but certainly not only, for fans of dark jazz!”
Read the full review here.

Shock FrontierTumult (Malignant)
“Shock Frontier have absolutely proven their worth on Tumult. The album is challenging at times, but always at maximum intensity and always drenched in negative emotion, even during its more reserved, dark ambient leaning tracks. This new vision was given the full treatment by Malignant Records, housed in a beautiful DVD digipak with irradiated, irreligious, apocalyptic art created by Noculture. The sounds are mastered by death industrial veteran John Stillings of Steel Hook Prostheses. Kozletsky and Carney have bared their souls, grinding out tracks which surely took them into the darkest recesses of their psyches and Malignant gave them a platform to spill this deviant heresy on the post-industrial world. It is now left to us, the listeners, to share this dark beast with the unsuspecting masses. May they bask in its deviance… or crumble beneath its iron grip.”
Read the full review here.

Bridge To ImlaThe Radiant Sea (Winter-Light)
Bridge To Imla delivered a strong debut. An album which could have only been created by artists with a lifetime’s experience in the field of ambient soundscapes. The album is equally as delightful when given full undivided attention as it is when played in the background, as an augmentation to some other activity. After this strong debut, we can hope to see more albums like this in the coming years from these two gentlemen. Until then, there should be many hours of enjoyment as one floats along on The Radiant Sea!
Read the full review here.

Atrium Carceri & Herbst9Ur Djupan Dal (Cryo Chamber)
“Ur Djupan Dal should be a welcome release for any listeners that have been following the “second wave of dark ambient”. Atrium Carceri and Herbst9 have both been performing at the top of their game for over a decade each. Ur Djupan Dal is a perfect example of how artists can come together to create not only sounds which delight, but storylines which have direct connections to each of their past works. I would recommend this album to any dark ambient listeners who enjoy the perfect blend of ritual, cinematic and traditional dark ambient music.”
Read the full review here.

raison d’êtreAlchymeia (Cyclic Law)
“It is not hard to imagine Alchymeia as the magnum opus of raison d’être. A return to form after years, Alchymeia is sure to delight and fully enrapture listeners. It is the perfect modern connection to the older works of raison d’être. If Peter Andersson will see this as his defining and final work, we will all likely hope for otherwise. But it is undoubtedly defining. It takes all the elements Andersson has been perfecting over two decades (closing in on three decades) of music creation and puts them to perfect use. The darkness is as dark as anywhere else in his discography, and the light is soul-gripping, heart-rendingly beautiful. Alchymeia is, in my humble opinion, the album we’ve all been waiting for from raison d’être. Truly a magnum opus in every sense.”
Read the full review here.

Martyria – Martyria (Malignant)
“Martyria aren’t interested in simply recording interesting textures, instead taking listeners to the source through their authentically mystical expression. From its opening bell toll until its last notes fade into the annals of time, this tremendous debut succeeds not only as an incredible amalgamation of ritual ambient and world music, but an exercise in eschatological internalization.”
Read the full review here.

NorthauntIstid III (Glacial Movements)
“Langås has been working these various aspects of his Northaunt sound since the late 90s. Istid III brings the old together with the new in a unique way giving us the best of both worlds. This release is also a step outside the ordinary, as it’s been released through Glacial Movements, a label out of Italy that specializes in various types of polar ambient soundscapes. This should hopefully bring a new group of listeners to the Northaunt sound, as all the die-hard listeners will certainly find their way to his work regardless.”
Read the full review here.

AjnaAn Era Of Torment (Reverse Alignment)
“With An Era of Torment, Ajna proves that he is still developing as an artist, each album that comes along shows improvements on techniques and a focus of vision. Much of the music is incredibly subtle, so fans of the more active varieties of dark ambient may not find what they are looking for here. But, if you enjoy artists like Svartsinn, Kave, or Dronny Darko, that create passive, but intricately crafted drone-work, you are likely to find much to love on An Era of Torment.”
Read the full review here.

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Matteo Brusa (Medhelan/La Tredicesima Luna) – Interview


Matteo Brusa is the man behind the dungeon synth project, Medhelan, and the dark ambient project, La Tredicesima Luna. Hailing from northern Italy, Brusa’s cultural and geographical histories have played a big part in his identity as a musician. I was able to pick Brusa’s mind for this quite extensive interview, which will look into the background of the man, as well as the beginning and future of his musical projects. 

Michael: What sort of music inspired you to become a musician?

Matteo: I’ve been exposed to several music genres since a very young age, but if I have to name those which most inspired me to become a musician, I’d say classic rock, progressive rock and electronica. I discovered Black Sabbath at age 12 or 13, while Italian 1970s progressive rock is the reason why I picked up bass at age 14. At almost the same time I discovered electronic music from the 90s, especially European trance, minimal techno, downtempo and breakbeat, and developed an interest in electronic music production.

Michael: When you realized you wanted to start making music, how did things evolve leading up to Medhelan and La Tredicesima Luna?

Matteo: As mentioned before, I grew up in a very music-friendly environment. My father was an amateur keyboards player and used to own several different instruments, among which a prized Roland Juno-106 which is now in my care. As a kid I spent a lot of time toying with them and eventually teaching myself how to play a bit of keyboards and some guitar;at age 14 I began studying music theory and bass guitar, and started producing my first raw electronic tracks on a simple tracker software. Since then I’ve tried my hand at several electronic music styles, I’ve played bass in a number of underground bands through the years, and I created my first full-fledged musical project KRiOS, active from 2006 to 2014, which started out as a industrial dark ambient/noise act and eventually grew to encompass all my musical influences, including folk, shoegazing, dreampop and electronica. The major turning point was when I came in contact with extreme metal in my teens: I was particularly impressed by Black Metal, its counter-cultural significance, Weltanschauung and aesthetics, and how these same characteristics were applied to electronic music by the likes of Burzum, Ildjarn, Neptune Towers, Mortiis and Wongraven. Black Metal derived Dungeon Synth and Dark ambient became my genres of choice, those which most resonated with my self, when I felt the urge to create something carrying a deeper, more personal meaning. At that point it wasn’t “just music” to me anymore.

Michael: Outside of music, are there any other things for which you are passionate?

Matteo: I have a solid interest in European history and culture, both ancient and modern, and in metapolitics: I’m intrigued by everything that puts our social, economic and values system, deemed untouchable by most, into question. I highly value doubt and critical thought over given truths and conformity. Moreover, I support any cause that aims at preserving differences and natural diversity over homologation, and as a consequence I’m very passionate about the preservation of rural traditions, folk lore, legends, tales and the gallo-italic native Lombard language of my homeland in northern Italy, all things endangered by the slow destruction of traditional communities and cultural identities.

Michael: How has the history of your particular region affected your way of looking at life?

Vigevano Castle

Matteo: I grew up on the border between Lombardy and Piedmont, and I have half Lombard, half Piedmontese ancestry. It’s a place rich of historical traces spanning from the proto-Celtic cultures of Golasecca and Canegrate to World War II. A land dotted with feudal age castles and keeps, still functioning abbeys and monastaries, medieval villages perfectly preserved in their core structure, churches, monuments and works of art from all over the centuries and so on, up to the modern age. The place where I was born and where I lived for 25 years, Vigevano, is brimming with history. It was part of the Second Lombard League in the 13th century. It holds a complex castle system, complete with an innovative elevated passageway, built between the 13th and 15th centuries by the powerful Visconti and Sforza feudal families, which includes one of the finest plazas in Italy. At the time, Leonardo da Vinci worked in Vigevano for Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. It’s also the place where, during the First War of Italian independence, the Salasco armistice between Austria and Piedmont was signed in 1848 and where in 1849 the battle of Sforzesca was fought. In the industrial age, it flourished with the most renowned shoemaking industry in Italy and it’s still a tradition. Eleonora Duse, renowned actress and lover of Gabriele D’Annunzio, was born there in 1858. When you grow up surrounded by history like this, you can’t just ignore who you are and where you come from, which people and events influenced your ancestors, and how it cascaded to you. This is the lesson I learned from the history of my region. My roots are firmly and deeply radicated in this place, and I’m proud to collect its heritage. Sadly, the majority of people just seem not to care anymore.

Michael: When did you first take an interest in the history of your region?

Matteo: I could say it’s always been there, as I remember being a kid in primary school and listening in awe to the teacher recounting the history of my hometown, as I mentioned before, from Celts to Roman age, to Lombards’ and Franks’ rule and then to the Visconti and Sforza families in feudal age, and again from Spanish and Austrian domination to the Savoy royal family’s reign, straight into Napoleonic era and then through the First War of Italian independence towards modern age. But if I had to pick the moment when it actually became a conscious, fully developed interest, that would be in my late teens/early twenties, some time before I set on composing what would eventually become the bulk of Medhelan’s “Ticinum Insubria” album, a time when I started feeling the need to embrace my cultural roots rather than downplay them.

Michael: You have released several albums now in the cassette format. Why do you think this renaissance in cassette releases has happened and what is the most important aspect of them to your music.Matteo: As far as I can tell, the renaissance of compact cassette is mainly due to the “nostalgia factor”, to put it this way, harking back to things instantly reminding of a “golden age” of sort. While this could have been enough of a reason for reviving them in the general context of underground music and its current retro trends, I believe the return of compact cassettes holds a deeper significance to our scene: it is a powerful statement of independence from the mainstream, against the rise of dematerialized digital music, in favor of an iconic, old school, analog physical alternative. Philosophical issues aside, tape gives a recognizable sonic quality to music, a depth and warmth which is a very welcomed enhancement to certain styles of music, such as ambient.
To sum it up, I like cassettes both for how they sound and look and because of their cultural significance.

Michael: You’ve released albums now through Deivlforst Records, Lighten Up Sounds and Haftvad Records. Were these all good experiences with these labels? Will you continue working with some of them for future releases?

Matteo: I’ve had great experiences with all of them. I first got in touch with Deivlforst through Grimrik, who eventually became a friend and mentor to me, and deserves all the credit for tutoring me on taking Medhelan to “Fall of the Horned Serpent” level. I feel close to both his and Murgrind’s vision and philosophy about music and the scene, and consider Deivlforst as Medhelan’s natural home;Medhelan’s next album will be released by Deivlforst. Matt Himes of Lighten Up Sounds is a great and extremely hard-working guy, who took La Tredicesima Luna under his wing to provide it with the best presentation, promotion and distribution available. I have only positive things to say about my experience with him, La Tredicesima Luna is likely staying with Lighten Up Sounds. Finally, Haftvad was Medhelan’s first label, and a very good collaboration, despite inexperience and some difficulties not depending on either me or the label. We never did anything again together, but I was impressed by Ramin’s dedication to the Dungeon Synth scene and community.

Michael: You’ve also had several self-released physical editions, including the beautifully crafted Ticinum Insubria re-release on cassette. Do you prefer leaving these physical releases to labels or was it equally enjoyable to create the releases yourself?

Matteo: While I enjoy self-releasing and being in full control when creating the entire opus from scratch, producing and distributing it, working with a label has a number of advantages that significantly reduce workload and costs, while usually making for a more professional final result. “Ticinum Insubria” itself was kind of a hybrid, as Dan Capp did the whole design and layout work while I only took care of production and distribution. I’ll probably keep releasing both ways, but if I had to choose one, today I lean more on having a good label take care of the process.

Michael: Does religion play any major role in your life and/or music?

Matteo: Rather than religion I’d say spirituality plays a major role in my life: I follow a Celtic Pagan reconstructionist path which permeates my life and gives perspective to my music. I try to live my daily life as an all-encompassing ritual, living in the world and embracing its beauty and chaos without ever straying too far away from things that really matter, always caring for those who walked here before me, those who walk by my side and those who’ll walk my steps after I’m gone.

Michael: I know this question has already been answered in a previous interview for Masmorra’s physical dungeon-synth zine, but for those that haven’t had the pleasure to browse that edition, what does Medhelan mean, and why did you decide on this name?

Matteo: Medhelan is the ancient Celtic name of the town Romans called Mediolanum, which is present-day Milan. According to Roman historian Livy, it was founded around 600 BC by the Gaulish chieftain Bellovesus, nephew of the legendary king Ambigatos, who gathered people from several different Celtic tribes to establish a settlement in northern Italy; this particular endeavor, while based on obvious tangible needs, is also loaded with spiritual significance if interpreted as a “coming of age” quest. I picked Medhelan as my project’s name because it perfectly relates to both my love for my homeland with its rich history and my Celtic spiritual path, while at the same time it speaks of the reward coming after the struggle, and of a ritual rebirth.

Matteo: All Medhelan albums were created on software synthesizers and sample libraries only. “Fall of the Horned Serpent” is entirely recorded on Propellerhead Reason 3.5 factory soundbanks! Grimrik was able to squeeze gold out of twelve years old entry level libraries, which seems an amazing feat to me. I like to expand my sonic palette and avoid repeating myself though, so future releases will likely include some hardware synths and possibly some real instruments.

Ticino River

Michael: Some of your tracks use field recordings, I wonder if you’ve had any interesting experiences while on field recording expeditions?

Matteo: This might come as a surprise, but I actually almost never employ field recordings!The wide atmospheres swelling and rumbling underneath my songs are mostly generative soundscapes, synth drones playing dissonant chords, or stuff I create myself by heavily manipulating bits of sampled sounds, different pieces of music and such. For example, one track from “Ticinum Insubria” (I won’t reveal which one!) stands atop a completely unrecognizable sample of an alpine choir song. I like to experiment with such techniques.

Michael: Are there any new releases in the works for Medhelan? Has a label been decided for the release, which could be announced publicly?

Matteo: As previously mentioned, a new Medhelan album is in the works, albeit very slowly. It will be quite different from the previous one, and again it will be released by Deivlforst Records.

Michael: Medhelan is obviously a very fantasy oriented project, especially on Fall of the Horned Serpent. What were some of your favorite fantasy stories/mythos/sagas? Do any of them play into the works of Medhelan, or are you working within a framework totally of your own making?

Matteo: To be honest, while “Fall of the Horned Serpent” and “The minstrel’s fireplace tales” are fantasy-oriented in appearance, I’ve never considered the fantasy element to hold such a primary importance in Medhelan; for example, the story in Serpent unfolds in the form of an episodic fantasy tale, ridden with echoes of northern sagas (anyone familiar enough with the subject matter will find clear connections), but it merely serves as an allegorical means to express my views and vision of life and the world, to speak out about things I care for. While I like fantasy settings, I’m not much of a fantasy reader, besides my love for Tolkien’s whole opus, but I’m very much into epic poems and literature: my must-reads include Homer’s Iliad (Hector is a figure I strongly admire and relate to, his human virtue and flaws make his tragedy the most poignant in the whole story) and the Odyssey, the Arthurian cycle, Beowulf, von Eschenbach’s Parzival, the Chanson de Roland and more.

Michael: La Tredicesima Luna translates at The Thirteenth Moon. What is the significance of this name?

Matteo: The thirteenth moon of the year, sometimes called blue moon, is the second full moon occurring in a single month, like a “bonus” moon round. It’s an event occurring only once in a few years (hence the expression “once in a blue moon”) and it’s held by certain traditions as a time favoring divination and magick. I picked the name because of the latter implications and how they relate to La Tredicesima Luna’s concept.

Michael: How long have you had the idea to release an album as La Tredicesima Luna?

Matteo: The idea for La Tredicesima Luna first came to me in 2012. It was initially supposed to be a Pagan neofolk project with dark ambient leanings. I recorded a few demos back then, which were subsequently discarded. When I decided to split Medhelan’s ambient side from its new Dungeon Synth path, it was a natural choice to revive La Tredicesima Luna from standby.

Michael: Do both projects follow similar themes, or is there a vast difference in the thematic core of each project?

Ticino Woods

Matteo: While both take a Pagan stance in concept, Medhelan is mainly based on history, Celtic culture and spirituality handled in different ways, ranging from the simple historical soundscaping of Ticinum Insubria to the full-fledged allegorical storytelling of Serpent, while La Tredicesima Luna holds a more abstract, ritual approach focused on Pagan symbolism, mysticism and contemplation.

Michael: What is next for La Tredicesima Luna? Are you working on a follow-up to Il Sentiero Degli Dei or giving the project a momentary rest?

Matteo: The follow-up to “Il sentiero degli Dei” is currently release-ready and will likely see the light some time next year through Lighten Up Sounds.

Michael: What do you think the long-term future will hold for you musically? Will Medhelan and/or La Tredicesima Luna continue to be your main focus or do you have other ideas which you would like to explore?

Matteo: Medhelan and La Tredicesima Luna will likely remain my primary focus; that said, I enjoy making different styles of music and I constantly find new musical interests, so I wouldn’t exclude anything.

Michael: Thank you so much for your time Matteo, are there any final words you would like to say to readers or anything I missed, which you would like them to know?

Matteo: Thank you Michael for this in-depth interview. I’d like to say a huge thank you to all fans, friends and fellow musicians I could get in touch with over these years, to all people who contributed their work, dedication and criticism for making Medhelan and La Tredicesima Luna shine, and to the Dungeon Synth community as a whole, for constantly caring and supporting. I’m deeply satisfied and grateful for all that. Behold the strength of the community.

Medhelan Links: Facebook, Bandcamp
La Tredicesima Luna Links: Facebook, Bandcamp

Frozen In Time – Dark Ambient News 1 December 2017

Another huge week of releases. There is going to be plenty here to keep you busy for the next few days. These releases are all great in their own ways and each one definitely deserves a listen. I hope everyone is going into December looking forward to the snowy season (for those of us in the northern hemisphere atleast). Enjoy the selection of tunes and until next time, Peace!

Music Video Premiere!

Unsichtbar – “Junges Liebespaar”

New Releases & Pre-orders

Abre Ojos – New Album Released (Digital Only)
“Recorded over five days on the shore of Pambula Lake, the lands and waters of the Yuin People.”

Autumna – New Album Released (Shimmering Moods – CD/Digital)
“Lutalica.
the laundry dries in the world,
the crisp mid-Autumn air whispers,
some bonds will never break,
though I might leave
or be left.
Lutalica – or wanderer: one who travels aimlessly, a traveller. We are all travellers, constantly moving in and out of focus of one another’s lives, knowingly and unknowingly sharing experiences. It’s these experiences that shape us, sculpt segments of our personalities and give us bearing. Most people know what they want, only few truly know what they need.”

Black Seas of Infinity – New Album Released (Digital Only)
A nice blend of neo-classical, dark ambient and death industrial, Within Daathian Chasms will prove to be an interesting release for all sorts of different listeners and melts in and out of multiple genres.

A Bleeding Star – Two New Weekly Singles (Digital Only)

Bridge To Imla – New Album Released (Winter-Light – CD/Digital)
“Bridge To Imla is the duo of Hans-Dieter Schmidt and Michael Brückner, created in 2017 to distinguish their particular style of cinematic ambient from their respective solo projects. Hans-Dieter and Michael initially met at ambient group improvisations by the Frankfurt based EK-Lounge community around 2010, and had already collaborated previously on several occasions.”

Crystalline Reflections – New Album Released (ΠΑΝΘΕΟΝ – Digital)
“Always moving, step by step, through the oceans of everyday noise, rivers of emotions, undercurrents of uncertainty and fear… Crystalline reflections on the surface of these waters are here to guide you in this journey to the horizons yet unseen. Serenity & melancholy. Anxiety & bliss. Everything on its own place and time. ”

Darren McClure & José Soberanes – New Album Released (Shimmering Moods – CD/Digital)
“Future Harbour is the second collaborative album by Darren McClure and Jose Soberanes. It follows their 2015 release Shelter, issued on the Eter label.
This new project combines modular electronics, processed field recordings and experiments in granular synthesis. The sound palette ranges from tactile and brittle textures to warmer ambient passages, all held together with a compositional process that favoured contrasting styles and techniques.”

DeepDark – New Album Released (Digital Only)
DeepDark unveils the latest chapter in his cosmic drone series.

Dravier – New Album Released (Shimmering Moods – CD/Digital)
“Inspired by an out of body experience in the gothic cathedrals of Paris, “Cathédrale” floats through pointed arches, past flying buttress and out over the Seine, soon lost within the clouds. Deep thoughts forever drifting through the fabric of time.”

Elderfrost – New Album Released

Evilnox – New Album Released (Dark Age Productions – CD/Cassette/Digital)
“Medieval dark ambient project Evilnox was founded in January 2012. The music itself is a mixture of medieval melodies, dark ambient and black metal, combined with a melancholic and dismal atmosphere. All compositions are based on the dark beauty of nature, medieval legends and personal philosophy.
The album ‘Dark Times Of War And Witchcraft’ is a blend of dungeon synth and atmospheric black metal and will be released as Jewel Case CD and Cassette under the banner of Dark Age Productions in late 2017.”

Flowers For Bodysnatchers – New Album Released
(Cryo Chamber – CD/Digital)
“On the evening of August 12th, 1968 in Fairhaven, Massachusetts antique store owner Ernest Semenov brutally murdered his wife and two daughters in what police investigators described as bizarre ritualistic killings. Their dismembered bodies had been rearranged to form what appeared to be crudely oblique symbols formed into a circle and connected by blood that he had drawn from his own slit wrists. Ernest Semenov was found slumped upright in the centre of his macabre creation by neighbours who claimed he was mumbling in a language they could not understand.
The subsequent investigation revealed an astounding amount of occult literature and objects at the Semenov residence. Belonging not just to Ernest Semenov but apparently to his wife Silvia Semenov also. Alarmingly police discovered various animal bones arranged in the same oblique manner attached to the underside of his daughters bed frames.
Declared criminally insane by the state Ernest Semenov was imprisoned in Ravenfield Asylum for treatment and rehabilitation and, placed under the care of one Dr Richard Lankin. Subsequently on the night of July 1st, 1971 Ravenfield Asylum was consumed by fire. Police discovered the horrifically burnt bodies of 68 of the 70 patients and staff savagely murdered and dismembered in a manner not dissimilar to the 1968 Semenov murders. The bodies of Dr Richard Lankin and Ernest Semenov were not believed to be among the charred remains.”

Hesychia – Preorder Available (Cyclic Law – CD/Digital)
“New project by Austrian Arthur Rosar (former member of Abigor, Walser…). The album is a meditation on freedom from all passions (apatheia) and repentance (metanoia) through fundamental concepts established by early christian mysticism (the desert fathers) with respect to zen buddhism and pre-christian European traditions. An aural guide to force the removal of all illusions and be in total awareness of the eternal now, forging a stillness of the soul, going beyond the mundane. The music is a savvy achievement of total surrender through improvised analog atmospherics and field recordings.”

Ian Hawgood & Giulio Aldinucci – Preorder Available (Home Normal – CD/Digital)
Consequence Shadows is a calming and restive release which seems like the perfect accompaniment to a lonely evening of reading or self-reflection. The album is set for release on 30 January 2018.

Invented State of Mind – New Album Released (Shimmering Moods – CD/Digital)
“Imaginary Country lets you through you’re lonely parts. Calm down, sit and listen.Try to imagine you are the only one on earth.
Deep ambient and drone signals will come through you. Just you and your thoughts. Based on sound of natures ISM created intense, deep musical topics by using various methods and processes to come up with a spacey musical environment.This is an emotional journey.”

Item Caligo – New Album Released (Digital Only)
Item Caligo presents us with his latest album, Procrastinating Suicide as a “name your price” release. Definitely worth a listen, as his work is always quite interesting and melancholic.

Lingua Lustra – New Album Released (Shimmering Moods – CD/Digital)
“Truth Rings Like A Bell is the reflection of a special interest i’ve always had in bells, gongs, bell-like sounds. On this recording i’ve used a series of large bells, treated them in different ways, staying close to the original overtones they produce. This mixed with homemade fieldrecordings, analogue synths and mutated vocals completed the atmosphere i was looking for, my tribute to the bell.”

Maas – New Album Released (Kalpamantra – Digital Only)
“It’s a varied and long album with substantially sized, slow building drones, linked together by interludes in order to provide a continuous experience, a story of a journey into ever tighter caves, until ultimately death as the final destination”

Maha Pralaya – New Album Released (Noctivagant – CD/Digital)
“This family duo from Russia is named in honor of the complete destruction of the Universe at the oend of the Great Cycle. The style is called a post-apocalypse raga. Compromised of field recordings of white noise generators, minor guitar scales of electro-acoustic, drone-surge polyvox, rhythms of shamanic drum, sound vibrations of Tibetan bowls, harp, voice overtones of the experiments, the breath of flutes and chimes of harmony which – paint landscapes. Bardo is dedicated to the sacred knowledge hidden in the Tibetan book of the Dead.

Misantronics – New Album Released (Sombre Soniks – Digital)
“This album follows the same path as its predecessor, ‘Artache’. Again, there is no theme, no philosophy and no message to be found here. These are musical experiments, created with guitars, found sounds and processed noise. Each track has its own identity and takes you on a different journey. Perhaps this album is somewhat harsher than ‘Artache’, a step away from the electronic music in my previous work, ‘InnerGazer’ and back to the semi-live approach of ‘Contraformance’. But mostly, it’s a brand new Misantronics album, enjoy.”

Nhor – New Album Released (Digital/Cassette)
“Wildflowers: Winter” is the fourth and last EP release of Nhor’s musical cycle about the natural seasons. Just as the previous EPs it’s only available digitally and in a small cassette print-run.”

Niculta – New Album Released (Noctivagant – CD/Digital)
“Nicultas first dark ambient album is about the psychedelic journey of the self, ever deeper and deeper to discover in the woods.
In the Woods, is about the journey of a man who is seeking for answers, willingly to let go ego and transform into his real self.”

Noctilucant – New Album Released (Noctivagant – CD/Digital)
“Bleak continues exploring the post apocalyptic world that originally started on ‘Back to the Mud’ and ‘Oblivion to you all’, but this time centers its attention to a single protagonist.”

Noctilucant – New Album Released (Digital Only)
“‘A sci-fi journey through the heart of the unknown and into the mouth of madness.’
The Original Soundtrack created to accompany the reader on the adventure through the graphic novel of the same name. Varying between deep suffocating drones, lively field recordings, melodic textures, and luminous space/sci-fi themed dark ambiance — the Descension Original Soundtrack is your guide down the path of the macabre and insane.”

North hive – New Album Released (Digital Only)
“The seventh album of the project North hive. The album is written under the impression of reading a book:
Marie-Louise von Franz – “Alchemy: An Introduction To The Symbolism And The Psychology”. Albedo is the second stage of alchemical magisteria. (sapienti sat)”

Sačquiel Måtaton – New Album Released (Shimmering Moods – CD/Digital)
“The following pieces are about the old American West, Blood Meridian, There Will Be Blood. The heat, the desert, empty towns, lost lives, hearts, minds and souls. Travelling across the old country to make a living, for adventure and to just stay alive.
Ye carry war of a madman’s making onto a foreign land. Ye’ll wake more than the dogs.”

Shedir – Preorder Available (Cyclic Law – CD/Digital)
“First solo work by Italian musician Martina Betti. “Falling Time” is an aural ticket to a non place. Swirling ambient sounds made of processed field recordings converge into a richly textured and harmonically layered narrative. The tracks scan the phases of ascension to a suspended and formless destination, free from the bounds of time and space: a rite of passage. We are nowhere, a journey with no boundaries or restrictions transforming the smallness of ordinary life into transcendent magnitudes.
Building on constant cinematic tension, frictions and collisions of sounds, through which the mind is transformed, freed from daily dualities, at one with it’s psychic abilities.”

Shock Frontier – New Album Released (Malignant – CD/Digital)
“With his dark ambient project Apócrýphos, Robert Kozletsky has shown a proven ability at creating multi-layered and highly detailed soundscapes. Working as a duo alongside Kyle Carney, he takes that skill and applies it to his death industrial alter-ego, Shock Frontier, carving out a sound residing somewhere between the “new wave” of American power electronics (The Vomit Arsonist, Steel Hook Prostheses) and the classic sound of Cold Meat Industry (Deutsch Nepal, Megaptera). “Tumult” is a world enveloped in a perpetual haze of post-apocalyptic soot and radioactive ash, where deadening percussion, reverberating factory drones, samples, and atmospheric washes of hostile electronics churn and whir into a polluted, endless expanse. The follow up to 2013’s debut Mancuerda Confessions, Tumult is a more intricate, more oppressive, and more finely honed release, and a logical extension of the Shock Frontier sound. Featuring contributions from Gnawed, Kristoffer Oustad, and Noculture, in 6 panel DVD digipak skillfully designed by Chris Angelucci of NTF Design & Print.”

Stromstad – Preorder Available (Malignant – CD/Digital)
“Few names imply mind-bending, forward thinking heavy electronics like Finnish stalwarts STROM.ec, and with every release, they seem to further stretch the boundaries of what can be a pretty rigid genre, and navigate realms never before seen or heard. Similar things can be said of Norwegian atmospheric heavy weight and Malignant staple, Kristoffer Oustad, whose particular strain of dark ambient and post-industrial soundscapes are incredibly dynamic, at times surreal and cinematic, other times more driving and heavy, but all with a recognizable, highly emotive touch. Put the two together, and you get the debut of their collaborative project, STROMSTAD. Spread out over 8 tracks, this is a dizzying exploration of sound and vocal fury, where mechanized pulsations, writhing frequency oscillations, and grinding machine loops meet stretches of drifting darkness and touches of musicality, suggestive of a future that’s dystopic and bleak on one hand, yet highly innovative and revolutionary on the other. Featuring a guest appearance by Grutle Kjellson from the mighty Enslaved, mastering by Nordvargr, paintings by Jeff Klena and design by Alonso Urbanos.”

System Morgue – New Album Released (ΠΑΝΘΕΟΝ – Digital)
“One could not step twice into the same river, nature of the time forbids. And the one is not the same with every step, and the soil for these steps is different and if you are going far enough in this there is no certainty at all, reality collapses, vision faints… The tremble of this, the awe, the dread and the bliss – it’s hidden so deep, so we barely feel it. Even the shores are changing, so what could we know about rivers? Yet, something stays still. Something which is not us, because we are the many, we are riverbanks. Maybe the most elusive thing is the most real one? Something like music, perhaps?”

Taylor Deupree & Marcus Fischer – New Album Released (12k – Cassette/Digital)
“Lowlands began when Ester Vonplon traveled to Spitsbergen in the Arctic Ocean in summer 2016. She sailed the ice-clogged seas of the Arctic Ocean on a three-masted sailing vessel, to capture the impressions of the calving glaciers and melting ice.
This journey in the Arctic Ocean was the perfect beginning for Taylor Deupree & Marcus Fischer to compose and record Lowlands.”

Victor Imaginator – New Album Released (Cephalopagus – Digital)
“BECOMING A GHOST. Everyone will die eventually. But what next? How will the mind act, being cut off from the body? A mind without any biochemical processes behind it. How to feel stress without cortisol? How to feel joy without dopamine and serotonin? All these unnoticed habits of a living person can be incredibly strong. As result, a weak mind will refuse death. Instead of moving further, adapting to the new condition of freedom and evolving into something different – the mind can bind itself to the world of the living. Endless failing attempts to live as before. An eternal cycle of pointless thoughts and actions trap the lost soul. That’s what “becoming a ghost” means.”

XUUN – New EP Released – (Grey Matter – Cassette/Digital)
Shamanistic rituals taking influence from Native American, Aboriginal, Tibetan and Thai culture. Featuring members of BYYRTH.

Sales

Flowers For Bodysnatchers – 50% off
To celebrate the release of the new Flowers for Bodysnatchers album Asylum Beyond released on Cryo Chamber I’ll be offering all Flowers for Bodysnatchers albums from my BandCamp page at 50% off! That’s only $3.50 an album and $1.50 for an E.P. Or alternately the entire discography for $6.00! This excludes albums released through Cryo Chamber.
https://flowersforbodysnatchers.bandcamp.com/music

Latest on This Is Darkness

Cadabra Records – Fungi From Yuggoth – Review
Artists:
Andrew Leman (Spoken Word)
Theologian (Soundscapes)
Jason Barnett (Art)
Album: Fungi from Yuggoth by H.P. Lovecraft
Release date: September 2017
Label: Cadabra Records
“Cadabra Records has, by this point, solidified themselves as the forerunners in the genre of spoken word arts. Not that they have a ton of competition in this field, but even if that were the case, the works that they have been creating could only be described as premium in every element. Each chosen theme is given the absolute best presentation one could hope to find. Original album artwork, professional well-rehearsed readings and soundscapes that give the perfect atmosphere to each reading all come together in a packaging that is itself top-notch.”
Read the full review here.

A Cryo Chamber Collaboration – Yog-Sothoth – Review
Artist: A Cryo Chamber Collaboration
Album: Yog-Sothoth
Release date: 7 November 2017
Label: Cryo Chamber
“As I stated earlier, this album has a bit of a different feel to it than the previous three releases in the Lovecraft series. Many of its deeper characteristics will take multiple listens before any concrete judgment could be made about the album. That in itself is a positive to me. The digibook adds another new element to the series. I highly recommend picking up the physical version of this release to have a hands-on experience of browsing through these selected passages from Lovecraft’s texts as well as admiring the brilliant artwork created by Simon Heath. Cryo Chamber continues, with Yog-Sothoth, to push the boundaries of their genre and the industry standards of dark ambient. The music is incredibly thought-provoking and the visuals are in a class of their own. I, for one, will be pleased to see this series continuing for years to come, Lovecraft’s mythos and the pool of talent at Cryo Chamber are both fertile for many more iterations of this sort of release.”
Read the full review here.

Nhor – Wildflowers: Winter – Review on the Periphery
Artist: Nhor
Album: Wildflowers: Winter
Release date: 1 December 2017
Label: Self-released
“’I now come to think of Autumn as a knife that was thrust into Summer,’ Nhorsays about the cold months creeping upon him. Indeed, the holiday season often seems detached from the underlying significance of the winter, something English artist Nhor has set out to rectify with the final release in his season-themed piano ambient EP cycle called Wildflowers. His skeletal arrangements filter out the shopping blitzes and overpriced decor, allowing Winter to epitomize the shrouding of the past in an enveloping sheet of white.”
Read the full review here.

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Ashtoreth – Morana (2017) – Review

Artist: Ashtoreth
Album title: Morana
Release date: 24 February 2017
Label: Unexplained Sounds Group

Tracklist:
01. Hyberna
02. Kāla Nāg
03. Tymor
04. Waní Yetu

Ashtoreth is a ritual dark ambient artist who focuses his attention to guitar drone and vocals. His latest album, Morana, has been released on Unexplained Sounds Group. Unexplained Sounds Group is an Italian label run by the man behind Sonologyst, Raffaele Pezzella. They have built an international reputation over recent years by releasing music on the periphery of the ambient and electronic genres. Ashtoreth fits perfectly into their catalog. His music is quite hard to specifically describe. There are elements of guitar drone as well as vocals. These are relatively consistent. But, the style in which he uses these sounds is what really makes Ashtoreth unique.

Morana is an ode to the Baltic and Slavic goddess of the same name. Her association to the seasonal rites of death and rebirth make her the perfect deity to anoint this music. The sounds have a distinctly winter infused theme. Yet, they do so without the help of field recordings. The opening track, “Hyberna” is a perfect example of this sound. There is a sort of hissing white noise that lingers throughout the twelve minute track. This, presumably, comes from his guitar amp. This white noise lays a nice foundation for the wintry themes of the album. Building upon this subtle noise, Ashtoreth uses his guitar in an equally subtle fashion. There are gentle guitar drones which are layered with slightly distorted single notes which slowly resonate throughout the track. While there is little happening in this track, less is more. The feelings and landscapes captured in “Hyberna” are not to be underestimated. The music is easily moving. It is the perfect soundtrack to the worship of this goddess of nature’s death and rebirth.

After the subtlety and minimalism of “Hyberna”, Ashtoreth takes the following track “Kāla Nāg” into a different direction. “Kāla Nāg” incorporates vocals, all done by a single man, yet they are performed in such a manner that they bring about thoughts of opposition. On the one side is a clean sounding vocal, gently expanding and receding throughout the track, in a beautiful and reverent nature. Contrasting this beauty is a set of gentle growls, which sound almost demonic, yet equally as subtle. The combination of the two, over a slowly oscillating guitar drone, make for a brilliantly dark track, which manages to hold a religious connotation, while also reflecting upon nature itself.

Morana is only four tracks, but still comes in at roughly an hour length. Over this hour Ashtoreth continues with his blend of subtle religiosity and a contrasting darkness. The hour will slip by in no time, attesting to the skills of the musician. It is no small feat to keep listeners entertained for this length of time using such minimalistic techniques. But its absolutely achieved by Ashtoreth. The other surprising element to this is that, aside from the opening track, the entire album was created in a single live session. One man, using the slightest amount of elements to bring forth a spirit, one which won’t be easily cast aside.

True to their vision, Unexplained Sounds Group have once again brought forth a magnificently talented musician. One who breaks the mold of the genres in which his music is categorized. It would be pointless to make a comparison to other artists here. Surely some shall have a few similarities, but each of the four tracks take Ashtoreth into new, uncharted territory. Territory which appears to be as cold as it is isolated. I would highly recommend Morana to any dark ambient fans who like guitar driven soundscapes. It is equally recommended to ritual ambient fans who prefer to hear something a bit out of the ordinary.

Written by: Michael Barnett

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