Tag: Cinematic (Page 2 of 2)

The Rosenshoul – Darkly I Listen – Review

Artist: The Rosenshoul
Album: Darkly I Listen
Release date: 14 August 2017
Label: Self-released

01. Violence My Heart
02. In Her Blood
03. Revenge And A Black Dog

The Australian musician, Duncan Ritchie, will be best known to our readers from his other dark ambient project Flowers For Bodysnatchers. While he started creating dark ambient initially as The Rosenshoul, he had several highly acclaimed albums as Flowers For Bodysnatchers before he was brought into the Cryo Chamber family. Aside from Atrium Carceri, Flowers for Bodysnatchers has become one of the most successful and recognizable artists on Cryo Chamber, that is, if we are to gauge success by album sales and Facebook followers.

The Rosenshoul has been on hold since the 2014 release of Hidden Field. With all the output coming from the Flowers for Bodysnatchers project, I was a bit surprised to see this new album by The Rosenshoul show up on Bandcamp. Surprised, but also delighted. The difference between the two projects can often be quite minuscule. The most noticeable difference between the two project can be seen in track lengths. While Flowers for Bodysnatchers tracks usually run between four and seven minutes length, The Rosenshoul always delivers long-form tracks. Often as long as twenty minutes in length and usually roughly three tracks per album. This long-form style of dark ambient makes for a more intimate and uniform approach to the music. The Rosenshoul tracks have a chance to slowly develop and they can often gently slide from one emotion or energy level to another within the same track.

Flowers For Bodysnatchers takes on a cinematic dark ambient style which incorporates the cinema into the tracks, building a story within itself. The Rosenshoul also has a cinematic approach, but it is less in the active sense; it leans more toward providing the role of a soundtrack. There is no shortage of field recordings, and there are stories being told, but these stories are much more subtle, allowing the listener to take a more imaginative approach to their interpretation.

Darkly I Listen is full of energy, emotion and intrigue. The album comes with a companion poem, which is helpful in conveying a full understanding of the material to the listener.

Darkly I Listen through the raven.
Darkly I Listen through the trees and
through the walls and the windows.
Darkly I Listen into your violent heart.

Now I will come to you.
Come to you as decay and death.
Come to you slowly.
Like the black dog in the blackest night.

And from the bloodiest of shadows I shall
show you the hell you brought unto me.

The only other descriptor we are given to understand the album is this sentence: “Darkly I Listen explores a Victorian era tale of murder and otherworldly revenge.” There is no point in me attempting to tell my personal interpretations of these tracks or how they fit together as a whole. The process should be personal to each listener, and Ritchie has clearly intended for that process to be an integral part of the experience listeners have with his album.

From a technical standpoint the music is a bit more musical than many other dark ambient artists, though this can also be said about Flowers For Bodysnatchers. Flowers for Bodysnatchers most often incorporates piano sections as the direct musical addition to the soundscapes. The musical elements of The Rosenshoul, specifically on this new album, seem to come in the form of string instruments. In all honesty, I’m not sure if these sections are synthesizer created or if they are the actual instruments being played, but my guess would lean more toward the former. The drone-work is quite active, with swiftly evolving drones coming in and out of the soundscapes, changing note and pattern frequently. The real foundation of this album lies in the field recordings. They have a constant presence throughout the album. They are best described as industrial, not the genre, but as in field recordings collected in an industrial district of a city. A picture comes to mind of a scene from Eraserhead, Henry (Jack Nance) wandering through a dark, rainy, gloomy atmosphere in the heart of the industrial district of some nondescript metropolis. This image fits nicely with the descriptor for the album, which describes this as taking place during the Victorian era, which was also centered amidst the industrial revolution of western civilization.

Darkly I Listen is the most ambitious effort yet from The Rosenshoul. This is the first album to be released under that moniker in the physical format. Darkly I Listen has been self-released by Duncan Ritchie and he’s taken the bold step of creating a digipak CD that appears to be quite professionally executed. The cover-art is beautifully dark, evoking just the right sort of imagery for sounds such as these. The gamble seems to have already paid off, as there are only 8 copies remaining for sale through his Bandcamp page as I write this review. So if you are thinking about purchasing a physical copy, you’d best move fast! I would highly recommend this album to just about any dark ambient fan. It should have no trouble with impressing fans of Duncan’s other project Flowers For Bodysnatchers. It is also a real treat for those fans that prefer the long-form style over short, concise tracks. In short, Darkly I Listen should be a welcome addition to the collection of any discerning dark ambient listener!

Written by: Michael Barnett

Vond – Green Eyed Demon – Retro Review

Artist: Vond
Album: Green Eyed Demon
Original release date: 1997
Re-release date: 10 January 2017
Original label: Cybertzara
Re-release label: Funeral Industries

01. My Dying Day
02. Living Among the Remains of Dead People
03. Satan at My Back
04. To the Dreamer Dead and the Dreamer Dying
05. Hell Starts Now

Green Eyed Demon is the third and final album by Vond, a side project of Mortiis. These three albums were created from 1994 through 1998. Green Eyed Demon was initially released on the Cybertzara label. Now, almost 20 years later, Mortiis has re-released this album through his own label, Omnipresence.

Many of our readers should be very familiar with Mortiis. Several of his Era 1 albums were released through the late, legendary Cold Meat Industry, which was the launch pad for many of the forefathers of the dark ambient scene. The main project of Mortiis started as what is now called dungeon synth. He would later transition into dark wave / goth rock / goth metal or whatever other classification would best describe his varied sounds. But the lesser known side-project Vond, is the one which would be best suited to fans of the dark ambient genre. Vond may not in every aspect fall perfectly into the framework of traditional dark ambient, but it is probably the closest genre to this music.

The album Green Eyed Monster consists almost exclusively of the manipulation and layering of cinematic samples. Throughout the album, Vond sets the foundation for each track with a blend of dense industrial soundscapes and noises. This is industrial in the literal sense of the word, not the genre. We can hear machinery humming, the crashing and hammering of metal, steam releasing through valves. On top of this foundation Vond pieces together a plethora of samples of various cinematics.

The opening track, “My Dying Day”, focuses on descriptions of the early use of the electric chair in the United States prison system. The samples of a narrator describe the procedure in minute detail. Occasionally intertwined with these samples are Gregorian chants, which add a sort of perverse beauty to the composition. All this is placed on top of a thick foundation of industrial noises, which easily brings to mind early works of raison d’être, with particular similarities to the album Within the Depths of Silence and Phormations. As both artists were on the Cold Meat Industry roster during this period, it isn’t hard to imagine that they were likely borrowing a bit of inspiration from one another. Though I should make it clear that these similarities are not nearly enough to warrant calling one or the other a follower or copycat of the other’s style.

The following track, “Living Among the Remains of Dead People”, incorporates large portions of an old film, which appears to be of a documentary format, though it is actually a horror film posing as documentary footage. The story follows the demented and evil deeds of a psychopath by the name of Ezra Cobb. The narrative explains the progression of Cobb’s mental collapse from his initial attempts to cope with the death of his mother through his later acts of grave-robbing and necrophilia. Along with the narrative, Vond layers in samples of the man screaming “mother!” and other sound clips which add to the immersion for the listener.

My favorite track from the album, “To the Dreamer Dead and the Dreamer Dying”, takes us closer to the sounds of Era I Mortiis than much of the other output on  the Vond albums. There is much more prevalent use of the synthesizer on this track. Initially, we can hear a wind instrument, later it shifts to a sound which comes closer to a bass guitar that eventually is treated with distortion. As the track progresses the synth work moves into territory that would be very fitting on some soundtrack to a film, which is obviously a natural choice here, on an album that is full of cinematic samples. Aside from the synthesizer, Vond incorporates a variety of cinematic samples which seem to take us into some of the worst sagas of Christian history.

Green Eyed Demon has been given an impressive re-release. While it doesn’t appear that there was any re-mastering done, the physical copies of this album will be a delight to the avid collector. Through Mortiis‘ web-store there is finally an official digital copy of the album. A limited edition LP is presented in several different variations, including: black, blue, testpress, and there are even some copies of the original 1997 pressing available. The album is also released for the first time on CD in an A5 digipak.

For long-time fans of Mortiis, there will be nothing new here aside from the beautifully crafted re-release editions. But, for newer fans, just recently discovering his older phases and side-projects, Green Eyed Demon, as well as the other Vond albums, should be a delightful discovery. Vond definitely shows off a side of Mortiis’ talents that should be highly attractive to fans of dark ambient music. Its gritty production is a reminder of the old days of the dark ambient genre, back before everything could be done with a computer and midi controller. It’s also a reminder of the varied nature of Mortiis‘ interests. I would love to see these old albums draw enough attention to maybe get Mortiis to consider opening the vaults of Vond for one more chapter.

Written by: Michael Barnett

God Body Disconnect – Sleeper’s Fate – Review

Artist: God Body Disconnect
Album: Sleeper’s Fate
Release date: 27 June 2017
Label: Cryo Chamber

01. Sleeper’s Fate
02. Halls of Disintegration
03. Reservoir Dreamer
04. Lair of the Dormant Host
05. Flesh of a Ghost
06. Drowning with God
07. The Portals Evolve

Last year God Body Disconnect released their debut, Dredge Portals. Here was an artist, on their first delve into the world of dark ambient, taking everyone by storm. Musicians and listeners alike found Dredge Portals to be a riveting tale of a man trapped inside his own mind. Crisp field recordings, dreamy guitar drone and Hollywood worthy narration gave listeners a story in which they could become fully absorbed, if only for an hour of their time. As the weeks after release turned into months it became obvious that this experience extended well past the first listen. A year on and Dredge Portals is still drawing praise.

Sleeper’s Fate takes us back into the mind and narrative of Dredge Portals protagonist. We arrive on the scene just as the gun shot rings out. We hear the victim gasping for air as he chokes on his own blood. Police sirens are heard as they arrive on the scene. So we are getting a bit of a recap of the first album here in these first few minutes. Or, more so, a reminder of what went down that night on the streets of what I must imagine to be New York City. Bruce Moallem is back at it in full force. The narration is again, not only praiseworthy, but I can honestly say Hollywood worthy. As I described with Dredge Portals, his style of narrative and even his accent give a strong vibe of Good Fellas. With that being one of my favorite films of all time, the comparison does not come lightly. Nor does it really seem that he’s trying to directly mimic that style. It honestly sounds like this is the natural way for him to tell his tale.

While the theme and execution of Sleeper’s Fate are very similar to Dredge Portals, the biggest difference this time around seems to be in the depth of these field recordings. From the album blurb it seems that Moallem has either upgraded his field recording equipment, or just taken it into new territory. The promise of binaural field recordings is quickly proven to be noteworthy. While the first two tracks focus on drawing us into the narrative, “Reservoir Dreamer”, coming in at almost eight minutes length is the first track to fully absorb us. The brilliantly realized guitar drone-work is the perfect foundation for an impressive breadth of field recordings. The mind can truly run wild on this one. Faint voices echo off the walls, literally bouncing from ear to ear. Are we hearing children playing outside an open window of the hospital or are these the memories of our protagonist? The answer can be chosen by the individual listener, either direction taken proves to be part of a generally heartfelt and moving experience.

“Flesh of a Ghost” is another noteworthy track (among the many). We begin by hearing the beeps of a life monitor, which seems to be inside an elevator, before moving out into a crowded and noisy room. A hundred conversations happen at once, but the protagonist is a bystander, an observer from a distance. He might feel and hear the abundance of life in the room, but his part is only as the sleeper. Where this track really gets interesting is around the three minute mark when the post-rock influences show themselves more than at any other point before. The field recordings and sweeping bass drones never let up, but a pronounced drum beat comes front and center, with the guitars moving into their most traditional territory. With a post-rock delivery of this caliber, we should be thankful that Moallem is able to control his urges and bring us right back into the atmosphere of the rest of the album. A fully dedicated post-rock album with these sorts of moments would likely stand up as a worthy competitor to some of the best in that scene. But we are here for dark ambient, and to the dark ambient foundations “Flesh of a Ghost” returns as quickly and naturally as it departed.

“Drowning with God” features another moving vocal performance. Much like the closing chapters of Dredge Portals, “Drowning with God” gives us a sort of conclusion which still leaves plenty of room for individual interpretation. The sleeper thinks back to a lesson once learned from his father, having a bit of a somber revelation in the process. As we move into the last track, “The Portals Evolve” it seems that there could still be plenty of room to come back to this narrative once again, or it could be just as likely that this is the end of the story. The moment when the sleeper fully succumbs to his fate. As with any great cinematic dark ambient album, enough questions are answered to give us a well framed sense of direction, but there is still enough ambiguity to keep us second guessing our conclusions. Honestly, whether we believe we’ve discovered the truth to the narrative or not, there is enough musical talent here to draw us back into the mind of the sleeper many more times, if for nothing more than the atmosphere and precise execution.

God Body Disconnect proves once again that they are producing cinematic dark ambient of the highest order. There are really few narratives out there that hit the mark so profoundly in so many different ways. So now the narrative has doubled. The story has given us quite a bit more to experience and enjoy. Sleeper’s Fate takes none of the allure away from Dredge Portals, while simultaneously proving that another year within the dark ambient scene, meeting and learning from his fellow label-mates at Cryo Chamber, has driven his craft to new heights. By this time next year, its hard to tell what sort of masterpiece Moallem will have constructed.

Written by: Michael Barnett


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