Tag: Drone (Page 1 of 2)

Shadow Echo Canyon – Interview

I’ve been wanting to speak to Shadow Echo Canyon ever since I first heard his amazing Shiver EP. His music is heartfelt, melancholic and solemn, with moments of brooding darkness, skillfully combining elements of dark ambient, drone, and field recordings that together create something truly special. I hope you will all enjoy this interview, and consider supporting the artist. He has some great work on his Bandcamp page, which is linked to at the bottom of this article!

Interviewer: Rich Dodgin
Interviewee: Shadow Echo Canyon (Luca Tommasini)

 

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

Thank you for this opportunity, it is a pleasure.

Can you start by telling us a little about yourself.

My name is Luca Tommasini, I have peasant origins and before being a musician I have always been a great listener, a listener of everything, places, people, musical genres.

For those who aren’t familiar with your music, can you provide a brief overview of your musical project(s) and the music you have released.

At highschool I played drums in a noise band, then when that disbanded I took up solo drone guitar. Then I sang and played keyboard in a doom-drone band called Oracle with whom we did a demo and a vinyl record. When that experience was over I switched off because I was looking for a sound that could be emotional and innovative at the same time. Putting these searches aside, I started playing again 3 years ago, in various forms and projects. Shadow Echo Canyon is the darker part, A Distant Shore the more harmonious and luminous part, Asylum Connection is a digital noise project. Then I participated in the Spectrum Audio Collective together with many artists around the globe, and from time to time I join Chelidon Frame’s Asynchronous Orchestra.

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

The main part is always improvised first. Sometimes it is a chain of effects, a new tuning, the sound of certain objects; there is no real rule. The only real rule is not to make music I already know. Then I find this main part, everything is deconstructed until I reach the result I like. I use poor equipment, a Doepfer Dark Energy, a Danelectro DC12, a couple of delays, a couple of reverbs, a contact microphone, a Tascam for field recording or I record directly on the phone. The phone has a rather raw and grainy sound that makes things quite strange and often interesting. The deconstruction is a cut and paste make directly on a multitrack on computer.

Do you have a particular personal belief system, or outlook on life, and if so how is that reflected in music?

For a long time I experienced self-destruction in many forms and ways, then I decided to take a deep decision and change my life. I started practising and studying Buddhism. Buddhism was and is exactly what I needed, a light that ignites hope in the murkiest darkness, I found myself in many things and the more I delved into that world, the more my life took constructive and improving paths. This approach to life has given me the opportunity to give more value, care and importance even to the darker side of my sounds that previously remained unexpressed.

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

I don’t play live, I prefer working in the studio or doing collaborations. It is still impossible for me to get my sounds on stage in a interesting way, just as it is not easy to find the right mood within me to express myself. But in the future who knows?

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

When I was a child my parents practised thai-chi with a tape playing in background. The tape contained Micheal Jarre‘s Oxigene and Tangerine Dream‘s Phaedra. That music hit me from the start and has never left me since. My adolescence was deeply marked by Sonic Youth and Motorpsycho, then in time I moved on to more ambientish-psychedelic like Deathprod, Fennesz and all of Kranky Records until I discovered Windy & Carl.

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

The musicians who have influenced me the most are Brian Eno, Thomas Koner, Windy & Carl, Deathprod, Fennesz and John Cage.

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

There are many active and fantastic realities in every corner of the planet, there is a lot of excitement and a lot of beauty, just as there is sometimes a lot of superficiality. After the worldwide craze for Basinky-tapes and SunnO)))-guitars I think these genres are being reborn from the ground up in new forms and increasingly interesting possibilities.

What are your future musical plans?

Nothing really especial. I am into two new albums, and I just want to continue to play and record my stuff.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Thank you for your curiosity and interest that has led you to read this far.

Thank you so much for your time Luca !!!

Thank you so much for your support.

 

Shadow Echo Canyon Links

Bandcamp

 

Esmam La Crowned – Interview

I’ve been wanting to speak to Esmam La Crowned ever since I first heard his amazing Coup De Grace EP. His music is melancholic and soulful, skillfully combining elements of dark ambient, drone, and electronica that together create something truly special. I hope you will all enjoy this interview, and consider supporting the artist. He has some great work on his Bandcamp page, which is linked to at the bottom of this article!

Interviewer: Rich Dodgin
Interviewee: Esmam La Crowned (Azmain Ishmam)

 

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

I appreciate having this opportunity to speak with you and share my work and the creative process. I also would like to say that I have been following this magazine for a considerable amount of time. Moreover, this was motivating.

Can you start by telling us a little about yourself.

My name is Azmain Ishmam (he/him). I was born in a small city district in the north of Bangladesh. My father, who was an engineer, used to take a lot of pictures. He was a prolific photographer. He actually gave me instructions on how to use a camera and how to look through the viewfinder. That’s what I did. The world I saw was also very beautiful and blue. Because the camera was Yashica Electro 35. The viewfinder used to have blue glass or it was broken or something, but it was Beautiful.

I’ve loved music and taking pictures since I was a young child. However, I’ve never taken music seriously enough to consider it as a career or anything else. The same goes for photography. Although persistent, it was never particularly serious.

For those who aren’t familiar with your music, can you provide a brief overview of your musical project(s) and the music you have released.

In 2018, my father passed away. For me, it was a very difficult time. I was unable to do pretty much anything for a year. I was unable to complete my college final year. It was a very tough time, which is why I was very disconnected and isolated. I used to listen to music during that time, especially ambient. Some of my favorite artists include Loscil, 36, Brock Van Wey, and Rafael Anton Irisarri.

My music is mostly inspired by the deepest, darkest part of my life and humanity. I suppose I could say I don’t love any emotions in my music. My music should not contain any sadness or joy. It’s kind of raw emotion for me. The judge must be the listener. I want the listener to give my music emotion. But it all depends on them.

I have quite a few musical projects that I have released, but some of them are pretty significant. I’d like to talk a little bit about two of my releases.

01. Art of Living Alone (2020): The birth of the album was when I was at my lowest. At the time, I fell in love with ambient music and wanted to start composing, but I lacked the motivation. so that I can find my motivation. I was going through my old computer files since I used to always produce music, but only for my own enjoyment and never with the intention of selling it or using it in any other way. And I discovered around 20 or 30 of them, some of which I loved. Then I thought about making an album with 15 tracks. So, I gathered 15 of my favorite songs and put them out. The project was not entirely original. It was a compilation of ideas, and that’s incredibly significant to me. The record is not flawless, and you probably already know that. I released it, and a few members of the ambient community as well as my friends seemed to like it.

02. Isolated Dreams (2021): The year was 2021. After COVID-19, the world was also beginning to open up. I went to see my grandmother after more than a year of living alone. Moreover, the place was lovely with its green fields and deserted roads, which was breathtaking and motivating. Even though it was absolutely stunning, it was isolated from the rest of the country. I was truly inspired by that location to write this album. The simplicity, beauty, and remoteness of the location are all captured in the album.

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

I have an audio recorder that I primarily use to capture different sounds. and later I prefer to create a synth or use the sound’s texture. I like using Ableton Live to create music. in particular, while using the session view. I make a lot of loops and keep adding sound to them because I love to experiment with sound. When I’m creating a track, I do make a lot of noise. However, the outcome must be very minimal. I prefer to choose those that complement one another. My favorite synth is Audio Damage’s Quanta Granular Synthesizer.

Do you have a particular personal belief system, or outlook on life, and if so how is that reflected in music?

I’m a thinking individual. Though I’m not very religious, I do think that religion has played a significant role in human history. I used to be afraid of being alone, but after some time, I began to appreciate it. Silence is beautiful and loneliness is a code in my life. And loneliness has played a part in my art and will continue to do so.

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

Both have unique ways to amaze listeners, and I find both methods enjoyable to use. In my latest project, I build a patch for my synthesizer, play it live, and record it. And the EP had five tracks and all are live recordings that I have released. Dream And Bliss (2022). And I have a dream of playing those patches live.

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

I could say that my environment had a significant impact on how I came to discover the musical idea. I never imagined being like them when I was practicing on a toy piano and listening to top 40 songs. But I liked how Aphex Twin sounded. For a very long time, I had no idea but I wanted to learn how to make music like that. And I’m still learning and making. And this is how I got to know about the world of ambient music.

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

It’s bvdub (Brock Van Wey) Loscil, 36 and Rafael Anton Irisarri.

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

I think it’s fantastic. Bandcamp has made it really simple for anyone to express themselves, and there is so much new and exciting music.

What are your future musical plans?

My upcoming musical project will be called “Black Days.” The record is inspired by a historical occasion. About The Project: The History Is Very Dark. During The Liberation War of Bangladesh against Pakistan. On 14 December 1971 Sensing Imminent Defeat Pakistani forces collaborated with a group of betrayers and abducted and killed Bengali intellectuals and professionals. in order to make a nation mindless.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

I currently work for Trans and human rights with many humanitarian organizations. I’m an activist, and the stigma I’m trying to eradicate in this nation is risky. Because the people are influenced by religion and are not open-minded. People don’t respect the gender-diverse population as a result. We also lack the right to free expression

Thank you so much for your time Azmain !!!

I’m grateful for the chance to speak with you today.

 

Esmam La Crowned Links

Bandcamp

 

Bonzaii – Interview

I’ve been wanting to speak to Bonzaii ever since I first heard his amazing A Person / Life on a Blade release. His music is filled with a wistful poignancy, featuring evolving drones and expertly blended field recordings that together create something truly special. I hope you will all enjoy this interview, and consider supporting the artist. He has some great work on his Bandcamp page, which is linked to at the bottom of this article!

Photo credit: Sophia Caroline Bittinger

 

Interviewer: Rich Dodgin
Interviewee: Bonzaii

 

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

Thanks for having me!

Can you start by telling us a little about yourself.

I live in Hamburg, Germany and have spent roughly the last 10 years as a musician with various bands/projects and also studying literature and history. I play in German post-punk band ‘Der Ringer’, hardcore/blackmetal project ‘FERMIUM’ and for indie artists ‘Ilgen-Nur’ and ‘Fritzi Ernst’.

For those who aren’t familiar with your music, can you provide a brief overview of your musical project(s) and the music you have released.

Bonzaii has existed in my head and on my hard drive for about 6 years. It started out as a way mainly to calm myself down when I was taking long overnight trips by bus to visit my girlfriend in Paris. The drive was around 13 hours and I could never sleep, so I spent most of those times writing some of the first Bonzaii tracks. Around the same time I was also touring Southeast Asia and China with one of my bands and that was also where a lot of the initial inspiration came from.

I first started releasing Bonzaii tracks via Bandcamp in the first months of the pandemic. It was the first time in ages that I was at home for a long period of time and so I was finally able concentrate on starting this project and also writing new tracks.

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

My goal is always to minimize the use of analog/modular synths and synth plug-ins and use modified samples instead. Over the years I’ve created quite an extensive sound library to draw from, which includes stems from recording sessions with my bands, as well as field recordings that I recorded on tour, while traveling or simply roaming through my local forests with my dog. I mostly use a Tascam recorder and sometimes (when it’s not windy) even my iPhone. Using these samples allows me to create original sounds more easily, because I am using sounds from my past that nobody else is using. In a way, it’s like modifying my sonic diary.

This method also ties to what I am trying to achieve with Bonzaii conceptually: To re-create memories, dreams and nightmares in a kind of stream-of-consciousness state were I use sounds from my past to illustrate how I felt at that point in time, what my outlook on life was, what my fears and my hopes were. My life does not usually feel “clean” or “hi-fi” and so I’m trying to reflect that in my music, to allow for imperfections and roughness.

Do you have a particular personal belief system, or outlook on life, and if so how is that reflected in music?

I would describe myself as an agnostic with a certain interest in spirituality outside of religious structures and this certainly reflects in my music.

I grew up in a highly religious Christian community and have spent the better part of my adult life trying to come to terms with this upbringing. When I decided in my teens that I was no longer Christian, that meant that the existential questions in life weren’t solved after all, that there were no easy answers, and this truth crashed down on me with considerable force. It took me years to process this and arrive at a better place mentally, where I learned to accept and even enjoy uncertainty.

Bonzaii is a creative vehicle to address existentialist fears about life after death, the cosmic horror of being a tiny grain of sand in an enormous universe. I want to show that there is beauty to be found in uncertainty and in discovering meaning in unforeseen places.

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

I’ve had some requests in the past, for art installations and such, but it didn’t work out for a number of reasons. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure I like the idea of performing ambient/drone live, since for me as an artist and as a listener it really is a lot about enabling a contemplative state of mind and that is very hard to achieve in a live setting, with other people around. It could work, but it would have to be a very special kind of time and place. I definitely prefer the writing process to playing live.

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

I’ve played in “guitar-based” bands since I was a teenager and that was my starting point musically. But I noticed quite early on that I enjoyed the ambience of interludes, intros and outros at least as much as the actual songs and I always tended to like the atmospheric bands like My Bloody Valentine or Slowdive the most. Some bands then cited as influences artists that I had never heard of, like Steve Reich, Brian Eno or Aphex Twin. So I quickly dove deeper into similar musicians and found there was a whole world to discover. I actually didn’t like Brian Eno very much in the beginning, because he had lots of piano parts in his tracks and that felt a bit posh to me. The really atmospheric, drony tracks like Aphex Twin’s ‘Rhubarb’ or William Basinski’s ‘Disintegration Loops’ were really my first love within ambient.

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

There are so many, I’ll just try and name a few, in no particular order: Steve Reich, Liz Harris (Grouper), Axel Willner (The Field), Chelsea Wolfe, Ryuichi Sakamoto.

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

I think it’s fantastic how cheaper recording equipment and platforms like Bandcamp have leveled the playing field in experimental music. In my opinion, there’s more happening creatively in ambient and drone music now than ever before because more people are able to contribute.

What are your future musical plans?

I have a new Bonzaii album done that will be coming out via Decaying Spheres in May 2023. A collaboration with my Italian friends ‘Arieti Rilassati’ is also coming up. And, as always, I will regularly be self-releasing shorter EP’s on Bandcamp in the coming months.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Make Racists Afraid Again!

Thank you so much for your time Bonzaii !!!

 

Bonzaii Links

Bandcamp
Instagram

 

Rojinski – Interview

I’ve been wanting to speak to Rojinski ever since I first heard his amazing Winter album. His music skillfully blends brooding dark ambient scores with cinematic soundscapes and subtle field recordings – resulting in rewarding audio experiences that offer something truly special. I hope you will all enjoy this interview, and consider supporting the artist. He has some great work on his Bandcamp page, which is linked to at the bottom of this article!

Interviewer: Rich Dodgin
Interviewee: Rojinski

 

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

It’s an honor for me, really.

Can you start by telling us a little about yourself.

Well… It’s always difficult to tell about myself… I compose, sing and play music since I was 15 years old (I’m in my 50s). I have been pro for a long time. I’ve been signed in Belgium by BMG Ariola, Indisc, ARS Records, etc… I started playing New-Wave with a band, in the mid-80s. In the early 90s, I met the woman who is my wife today and we had a son. Then, I wanted to spend my time with them. I think being a popular musician is not compatible with a family life. And to be honest with you, I hate the “music business” world. But I went on composing soundtracks for short movies, one-man-show, theater, etc.

In 2007, I started a project (Planets Citizens), on a very “confidential” level based on dark pop, synthpop, EBM, cold wave and dark electro. I had a track signed on a compilation in the US. After that, I’ve stopped that project in 2011.

For those who aren’t familiar with your music, can you provide a brief overview of your musical project(s) and the music you have released.

At the moment, my main project  is composing dark ambient, drone, cinematic and atmospheric music under my name, Rojinski. I still compose soundtracks for short movies, animation shorts (my son is character artist in the 3D industry and had a movie selected for a famous festival in Belgum), a web serie in the US (The Sorrow, by Neil Gorz), etc. I have also a project with two other composers (Handalien from Brazil and Omensworn in the US)…. But it’s a work in progress…  I’ve released all my music (for free) composed since 2012 on Bandcamp. We are living difficult times regarding the global situation. That’s why I’m fighting to keep things free on my side. People need their money for food, water, Energy, health cares, etc…. It’s very important. So, I follow the path my conscience is showing me…

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

I’m influenced by several themes like : sciences, geo-politics, philosophy, life… but it depends also on my state of mind. And like I said, I have no reason to be optimistic. My life have been impacted, 3 years ago, by a heart attack. They saved my life just on time…. Two minutes later, it should have been “game over” for me. It changed my way to approach music too… We are fragile beings and we have to face the big challenges to come. All these things are influencing me.

About my equipment, I keep this under the seal of discretion (big smile).  Few synths, a pc, a master keyboard (M-Audio), few plugins and FL Studio as DAW. I’ve bought it 20 years ago when it was named “Fruity Loops”. It’s developed by Imagine-Line, a Belgian company. Before 2000, I worked in great recordings studios like “Katy Studio” (Marvin Gaye, etc), “ICP Studios” (The Cure, The Stranglers, Paul Young, etc.) and with great sound engineers like Marc Nuettiens, Christian ‘Djoum’ Ramon, Dietmar Schillinger (The Clash, Kim Wilde, ABC, The Art of Noise, Talk Talk) with my project SX-96 (Belgian New Beat). All these persons taught me everything I know today. But now, I’m working in my little home studio and I wanna stay completely independent.

Do you have a particular personal belief system, or outlook on life, and if so how is that reflected in music?

I have a scientific and literary background…. The world has never been as dangerous as it is today. The mistrust that people have towards science amazes me, in the bad sense of the word. Very serious studies show that the overall intelligence (IQ) is decreasing… It is easier to “believe” in simple things stated by people without interests and without knowledge than to study and understand that nothing is simple on this earth. I fear what is coming… Above all, I am very sad for the future of my son…

This human civilization arrives in the era of idiocracy, ultra-egoism, disinterest in true culture in favor of an industry made up of influencers and people who want to be famous, without having talent, without working hard, without learning…. Just by showing off and dumbing down the crowds. Who is better known between Kim Kardashian and, for example, physicist Stephen Hawking? It is now more important to appear and to have rather than to be. This puts us in a delicate position to face the challenges ahead. We are going to be the next victims of Darwin’s law if we go on like this. We refuse to adapt to a new situation, to the changes in progress… Many people will bury their head in the sand of believes, of ignorance, of intellectual emptiness and self-centeredness… I am not optimistic. I’m just realistic. Sadly realistic.

That’s why, I try to make all the contrary in my daily life…. I swim against the tide… And my music is a good tool to spread what I think, what I feel…. I have several albums that “speak” about it. Without words. The themes are obvious. I don’t wanna be rich or famous… I just wanna share true things… I like to stay in the shadow when there are a lot of people who want to show up!

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

No, I don’t perform my music live. Not anymore. I made hundreds of concerts and shows (tv, live radios, etc). Now, I leave it for the next generation. I focus on the sound and my family. I always loved the studio work. It gives me the emotions I’m searching for… And also, I can create more things…. To be completely honest, my health is not perfect either but it’s another story…. And I don’t wanna talk about it…. There are people under the bombs, losing their life, their friends and their family…. It’s more important than my small person.

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

When I was 14 years old, I’ve discovered artists like Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Jean-Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk… A pirate radio in a university was playing a lot of that kind of music and also a lot of cold wave, new-wave, etc… It helped me to study, to sleep, to dream and to have inner-trips… I was not the usual teen (big smile).  I appreciate different genres of music but ambient and electronic music always had a special place on my tapes. Yes, I said tapes… OMG… I’m old, huh ?

Then, more recently (few years ago), I discovered Cryo Chamber, a wonderful label created by Simon Heath. This man is amazing and multi-talented. Music (Atrium Carceri, Sabled Suns, etc) but also visual arts (3D, 2D,etc.). He signed very cool composers and artists like Alphaxone, Dronny Darko, ProtoU, Ugasanie, Apocryphos, Kammarheit, Mount Shrine (Cesar Alexandre, the brazilian man behind the project, died last year because of that damn’ thing named Covid) and a lot of others. I like them all, really. It makes me travel without moving. That’s the effect I’m searching when I’m listening or making this kind of music. A few months ago, I discovered Omensworn (USA) and Handalien (Brazil) and I like their music a lot too ! We have a project but…. Well… You will hear it… (smile).

I compose as I feel it. So, yes, I must be influenced by a whole life of music, from punk to dark ambient, from classical to darkwave…. Someone told me, one day, that all the harmonic suites have been used since Mozart…. I don’t know what will be the future of my music… It will depend on the future of the civilization, I guess…. And also, I’m getting older…. (smile again).

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

I think people like Peter Gabriel, Jerry Goldsmith, Wagner, Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk and a lot of others like Depeche Mode have fueled my unconscious.

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

I have subscribed to a lot of dark ambient / drone / cinematic groups on Facebook and I have to tell you, there are a lot of people creating music in this particular genre. Well, there are not as numerous as the rappers, the commercial productions and it’s good like that…. We are a part of a minority… And I feel comfortable in it. That’s culture. Everyone needs some…. Whatever it is.

What are your future musical plans?

As I said before, I have no plan on the long term…. I compose for The Sorrow, season 2 , an american web series based on dark mystery, a bit of horror…. small budget, big hearts and souls. I will make something too with my two friends Handalien and Omensworn. It’s in progress. But I’ve learned that making projects on the long term is dangerous. Carpe diem, my friend.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Times are difficult and very dangerous. Stay safe. Whoever you are. Wherever you are.  Let’s try to be better human beings to build a better civilization. Listen to music. Read books. Learn. Feel. Love. Create. Be instead of have. Cultivate yourself. Don’t get manipulated by toxic people and hypocrites. Choose to be rather than to have.

Thank you so much for your time Rojinski!!!

 

Rojinski Links

Bandcamp
Facebook
Website
Youtube

 

Various – Yig – Review

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

Tracklist:
01. Yig 1
02. Yig 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Rich Dodgin

Scott Lawlor – Life Passes Slowly Unto Death – Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very highly recommended.

Written by: Rich Dodgin

Eppu Kaipainen – Poiu – Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Rich Dodgin

Decaying Spheres by Various Artists – Review

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

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

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

The opening track, Life on a Blade, by German artist Bonzaii, is a personal favourite of mine. When I reviewed the A Person / Life on a Blade EP back in June, I said “… discordant drones and low tempo synth patterns are expertly blended together to create something very special. This music provides the perfect soundtrack for reminiscing over days long past and remembering old friends… and maybe a spot of soul-searching…” It’s a wonderful start to the album, and sets the tone perfectly for the audio journey to follow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Rich Dodgin

 

Links

Decaying Spheres label bandcamp

Bonzaii bandcamp

Hynta bandcamp

Ghost Signs bandcamp

SVR bandcamp

Volunteer Coroner bandcamp

Eppu Kaipainen bandcamp

Embry お兄ちゃん

Employee of the Month bandcamp

Güsh bandcamp

Σπαταλώ χρόνο bandcamp

Seed Faith bandcamp

 

øjeRum – Nattesne – Review

Nattesne quickly merges with the subconscious. As the listener falls into the pattern of the album, the music becomes a meditation of its own.

Artist: øjeRum
Album: Nattesne
Release date: 3 March 2019
Label: Eilean Records

Eilean Rec. says of øjeRum:
“øjeRum is Copenhagen based musician and collage artist Paw Grabowski. Since 2014 he has put out releases on various labels such as A Giant Fern, Cabin Floor Esoterica, Eilean Rec., Phinery, Scissor Tail Editions and Vaald. øjeRum is all about the attempt to capture and convey emotions, moods and memories. two years and a half after his first release on eilean rec. we’re glad to host øjeRum for a second time on the map with the wonderful work: Nattesne.”

Before I heard this release, I was immediately captivated by the beautiful and evocative album art. The girl appears to be wearing a niqab and sitting in prayer or meditation. She is enveloped by a dull grey room, with sprigs of plants peaking out from behind. There is a halo behind her head (represented by the white circle). Her chest is an image of a snowy wooded landscape with the full moon peaking out from behind the trees. Her lower face scarf is a dark starry sky. So many narratives and emotions begin to immediately arise as I ponder the meaning of this artwork. This is the collage work of Paw Grabowski, the man behind øjeRum.

 

The album stays very true to the initial impressions I had of the artwork. There is a deep feeling of peace and meditative bliss present here. I don’t think I would call the music dark ambient, but it is pertinent to our sensibilities as listeners of that genre. There is a fleeting sadness, loneliness and isolation present throughout this release. These feelings reach an early climax on “V” with the help of vocalist Siri Anna Flensburg. Her voice draws all these feelings from meditation to loneliness to pure bliss into the six and a half minute track. Her voice melts into the tapestry of sounds, which on this track include a drone, which recurs throughout the album, accompanied by a dreamy and melancholic piano arrangement. This is the only time on the album that vocals or piano surface.

The majority of the album, aside from the aforementioned track “V”, has a recurring set of motifs. The guitar drone (not sure if it’s a guitar, it could be synth, but that’s not really pertinent) recurs through tracks I, III, V, VII, IX, XI, XIII, XV. You might notice that this is every odd track. Each time the album steers away from this template it is always certain to find its way back. The tracks filling in the even numbers alternate between two more templates.  A slowly strummed acoustic guitar allows its chords to resonate into the stillness. The remaining tracks feature another acoustic guitar but this time with picking progressions instead of strumming. The recurring nature of these elements drives the listener deep into a state of meditation, nostalgia, melancholy or some combination of the three.

Nattesne quickly merges with the subconscious. As the listener falls into the pattern of the album, the music becomes a meditation of its own. A spiraling staircase which one must ascend, only to find a brick wall at the top before the inevitable returning descent.

As alluded to by the imagery of the cover, the sounds of the album have a sort of “eastern feel” to them. The picked guitar sections could be a harp, the droning sections could be a flute, the strummed sections could be a sitar. And alternatively, the middle-eastern woman in prayer could be me, sitting in my American apartment in a deep meditation. Everything is cyclical and one, part of an inescapable whole.

As I’ve come to expect, Eilean Records has presented us with another beautiful release. Likely the last of their winter series before the course shifts to spring motifs. The limited edition CD of Nattesne quickly sold-out, as expected. Though there may still be a few copies floating around for sale outside the label. I always find Eilean Rec. releases to be perfect for the dark ambient sensibilities while only treading on the outer boundaries of it. Of course, dark ambient isn’t what they are going for, I only mention it because it’s the focus of our site! However, I doubt there will be many listeners questioning its appeal to our tastes.

I highly recommend Nattesne, and I equally recommend listeners explore the back-catalogs of øjeRum, as well as Eilean Records. There are many treasures still to be discovered for readers that dig this release!

Written by: Michael Barnett

Kaya North – That Comes from the Tree and the Mist – Review

Kaya North deliver a dark ambient improvisation
which showcases some of the best elements of The Eagle Stone Collective musically, as well as in the physical release.

Artist: Kaya North
Album: That Comes from the Tree and the Mist
Release date: 3 February 2019
Label: The Eagle Stone Collective

Tracklist:
01. Animal Crown
02. Shamanic Blood Leaf
03. Ancient Conifers Reign
04. Prophetic Dusk
05. Oaks Ceremony
06. Primal Forest


The Eagle Stone Collective
is a label out of France, run by Caleb R.K. Williams. A rough translation of his label’s mission statement says:

“The Eagle Stone Collective is a musical project/collective on the fringes of ambient Americana, drone and other experiments. Influenced by the desert and natural areas of the wilderness of our world and beyond. A minimalist and emotional vision of a sensory universe.”

The label released their first digital album, Eagle Stone EP in 2015 and their first physical, Alaska in 2016. The label features a variety of guests including Abigail Lily O’Hara, who released the enchanting Meander late last year. John Scott Gartner has appeared solo, as well as part of Eagle Stone and Old Green Mountain, both of which are duo projects with Caleb R.K. Williams. But the majority of the label’s releases are various solo works by Caleb R.K. Williams.

Williams uses various names to denote the different sorts of music he creates on the label, in a similar fashion to the structures Pär Boström (Kammarheit, Cities Last Broadcast, etc.) and Peter Andersson (raison d’être, Atomine Elektrine, etc.) have used over the years to denote their various styles of music. But unlike either of the aforementioned gentlemen, Williams not only uses his label for fully realized albums, it is also a place to release his experimentations and improvisations. The music that falls under this category is released under his real name, while the proper albums are released under one of his monikers (at least this appears to be the pattern from my perspective).

I’ve taken the time to detail the label itself here because I truly love what they are doing. I’ve been following The Eagle Stone Collective since about 2016 or early 2017 and I really enjoy everything they release. Some of the improvisations feel rougher than others, but that’s fine, Williams is testing his musical boundaries before the eyes of the music community. It is a laudable task to simultaneously release many of one’s wanderings while still managing to keep the releases feeling fresh and valuable (in the sense that their listeners’ time is valuable and we shouldn’t waste it listening to just anything, even an improvisation should leave the listener feeling rewarded, otherwise it shouldn’t be released at all). I always feel that my time was well-spent listening to their albums. Be they improvs, solo experimentations of Williams, or a proper album release from one of their “groups/bands” for lack of a better term.

So now I’ll get into That Comes from the Tree and the MistKaya North is one of the proper solo projects of Caleb R.K. Williams. This one he describes as his dark ambient side-project. The album was released on cassette and CDr, both in ultra-limited editions. I’m not a huge fan of CDr for obvious reasons. But, when a label is doing an edition of only 15 copies in each format it would be absurd to expect them to be pro-manufactured CDs. Every label can’t have the resources to create editions like Cyclic Law and Cold Spring. But, this is not a reason to shy away from the physical medium altogether. I think these ultra-limited editions are certainly a way of bridging that gap. Listeners that want something physical can feel that they have a truly unique piece of work in their hands, even if it isn’t 100% professional (think professional = appealing to our 21st century corporate sensibilities. It wasn’t created in a massive factory?!?! For shame!!!!).

That Comes from the Tree and the Mist is predominately a drone album. Just as conveyed on the cover-art, the music is like a thick dark fog creeping over hills and through foliage. There is a primal sense of wonder and darkness present here. There is a feeling of deep reverence and fear for/of nature, through an almost ritual lens. The ritual vibe is further evoked through the track titles themselves. Names like “Prophetic Dusk”, “Oaks Ceremony” and “Shamanic Blood Leaf” nudge our understanding of the album in the right direction. This is music evoking the old world. Old Gods and old forests, old rituals and old traditions are all subtly evoked.

While the music on That Comes from the Tree and the Mist is improvised, it feels like it moves forward with a purpose. I don’t feel that “meh, he did it in 45 minutes” vibe that I get from so many improvised dark/drone ambient projects. There is substance here, and there is music worth listening to more than once (more than 20 times in my case). There also appear to be field recordings present in a few sections of the album. Though, as the album is stated to be improvised, I wonder (and hope) that those field recordings are actually part of the improvisation. I like to imagine a window open in the studio, with a microphone aiming outward capturing nature, while simultaneously capturing his electronic alchemy inside.

While the CDr is long since sold-out (sorry, I’m moving slowly with reviews these days…) there are 2 copies of the cassette left as I type this. I personally purchased the cassette and can certainly recommend it to others (if cassettes are your thing)! It comes in a numbered j-card (I have number 10/15) with sticker labels on the cassette denoting A/B and showing that gorgeously gloomy forest from the cover (so many cassettes aren’t being labelled at all these days!). It also came with two folded sheets of paper which appear to be stamped with hand-etched rubber.

I would highly recommend Kaya North‘s latest album. For those unfamiliar with The Eagle Stone Collective, this is a great place to start, especially so far as readers of This Is Darkness would be concerned, as it is more solidly dark ambient than many of their other releases. I would also recommend following the label in general, some styles of music they release are more to my liking than others, but I truly enjoy hearing each new release from them. It will be time well spent in a market that is becoming quite over-saturated at the moment.

Written by: Michael Barnett

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