Here are the dark ambient albums that we at This is Darkness have been listening to this month – some are new releases, but a few are older gems we’ve just (re)discovered.
Please check these out by clicking on the Bandcamp link next to each review (or by clicking on the BNDCMPR link at the bottom of the page), and please consider supporting the featured artists. Enjoy!
Sebby Kowal – Wonders
The latest release from the ever awesome Decaying Spheres label, is this album of incredible drone based soundscapes from Polish producer Sebby Kowal. There is a emotional thread running through the heart of each and every track here, and that – combined with the otherworldly field recordings and sound effects – provides the listener with an audio experience of differing moods that range from melancholy and despair, through to hope and a sense of rebirth. Simply breath-taking.
Ceremonial Abyss – Equinox
The new album from Ceremonial Abyss is a wonderful post-industrial / experimental / dark ambient release with 2 distinct sides that compliment each other perfectly. Side 1 has a gorgeous dream-like vibe to it, creating an almost mediative state in the listener. Side 2, in contrast, has a harsher edge to it, but still retains an underlying hypnotic sound that continues from where side 1 left off. This is remarkable stuff – and on the basis of this, I will definitely be checking out more releases from Ceremonial Abyss!
Spanned Canyons – Snowload EP
Back in March, I reviewed the debut album from Spanned Canyons, saying “Looping synths and organ performances are melded skillfully with electronic glitches and field recordings. The end result is like something out of a hybrid horror-tech hallucination – guaranteed to entertain you and give you nightmares at the same time…” Their latest release, the Snowload EP, is just as inventive and just as impressive – featuring 5 tracks of ambient / jazz / post-rock / experimental music. With a remix of 2 tracks from the debut album, a brand new 3-song suite, and a very cool cover of “Race for the Prize” by The Flaming Lips, this is an EP that I’ve had on repeat play since I first heard it. Highly recommended for those who like something a little different.
Facetoucher – Mutations
Facetoucher combines improvised noises with vocals, computer drums, and long feedback manipulations to create otherworldly music that manages to be both soothing and disturbing in equal measure. The tracks on Mutations range from subtly evolving eerie drones, to in your face full on industrial, glitch-filled sonic assaults – leaving the listener bewildered and delighted at the sheer scope and emotive drain of it all. In places, this is a challenging listen, but ultimately a very rewarding one. Absolutely wonderful.
The Washing Planck – Integrale Sui Cammini
The Washing Planck is a musical project by Matteo Mariano and Domenico Diano, that “…utilizes a hybrid system of sound creation, combining analog and digital synths, structured algorithms, and magnetic tapes to create series of generative textures that lead to different paths based on the same principles…” The end result is 2 tracks that share the same inherent underlying DNA, but that each sound unique and offer something different. The music here is minimalistic, with subtle field recordings added to the undercurrent of unfolding drones, perfect for losing yourself to. Gorgeous.
IO – The Creation
The Creation from IO is the latest release in a series of releases inspired by the 51 ‘The Dance of Death’ woodcuts by German artist Hans Holbein The Younger that were developed between 1522 and 1526. This is beautifully done dark ambient with haunting echoes and sounds skilfully combined with evolving drones to create music that is dripping with a real sense of menace. This track, and the rest of the ‘The Dance of Death’ series, is a must-have for fans of dark ambient. Stunning.
Francisco Meirino – Francisco Meirino “A Perpetual Host”
A Perpetual Host is Francisco Meirino’s fourth full-length, solo studio album on the Misanthropic Agenda label, and is described as “A deep dive into personal loss and the banalities of life and art, A Perpetual Host captures the raw, solitary, and often acerbic extremes that drive creation.” It’s a fitting description, because the music here is focused on ‘sonic failures’ (such as electrostatic noise) and utilises field recordings to create music that is designed to challenge. This is one of those albums where each and every listen delivers something new and rewards multiple plays. Highly recommended for fans of the experimental / electronic side of the genre!
jim haynes – inauspicious
The latest release on the brilliant The Helen Scarsdale Agency label is this 2 track album from Jim Hayes, and is described as “… two twenty minute chunks of controlled noise that follow an internal logic that snakes from brooding power drones, spectral radio transmission, and an aktionist demolition cast upon metal, glass, and unfortunate wooden objects…”. Which gives you a great idea of what to expect – music that is as much industrial / noise as it is dark ambient, with rough edges, overlapping noisescapes, and an aggressive subtone that grabs the listener by the throat from the off. Seriously impressive stuff!
Phiorio – The Perpetual Self Doubt
Phiorio is best known for his stripped back techno style, but recently he has ventured more into the experimental and dark ambient territories, resulting in some very special music. The Perpetual Self Doubt is the perfect example of this – with eerie soundscapes combining elements of dark ambient with the repeated loops and rhythms of techno, along with field records and glitch effects. The end result is quite simply stunning, and I found myself lost in its depths each and every time I played it. Wonderful!
Bill Seaman / Tim Diagram / Stephen Spera – The World Was Turning Before
The World Was Turning Before sees Bill Seaman, Tim Diagram and Stephen Spera working together to create an album of delicate beauty and flowing musical collages. This is an album with hidden depths, that draws you deep inside of it as you let the music slowly unfold. With elements of dark ambient, drone, glitch, and electronica, the music here is timeless, multi-layered and multi-textured. Every time I’ve played this album I’ve discovered something new and wonderful, and I’ve found myself drawn back to its minimal tonal gestures again and again. Beautiful.
Neon Noodle – Nostalgism
I’ve been a fan of Neon Noodle for quite a while now, so I’m always thrilled when I get my hands on their latest release. Nostalgism is another impressive release – starting with the deeply disturbing dirge of “Love Is The Only Word” and taking us on through an audio adventure of doom-gaze, drone, experimental rock, and outside noise, this is one of those albums that stays with you long after it has finished playing. This is not an album for relaxing to, but fans of the noisier side of the dark ambient genre will absolutely love this masterpiece. Fantastic!
Various – Rhan-Tegoth
Rhan-Tegoth is the latest in the series of H.P. Lovecraft Mythos themed collaborations from the always impressive Cryo Chamber label. Here, over 20 artists have linked studios and sound for over a year to create deep audio collaborative exploration of the mythos and Rhan-Tegoth (a fifteen foot tall, medusa-like, insectoid amphibious Great Old One). With contributions / input from artists such as Atrium Carceri, Gdanian, Tineidae, Skrika, Dead Melodies, and God Body Disconnect (to name just a few!) the music here is of the highest standard, with dark ambient soundscapes perfectly blended together with otherworldly field recordings to create a 2 hour album that is jaw-droppingly good. Like all of the albums in the series before it, this is an absolute must have!
SoRIAH, Norman Westberg and Hans Joachim Roedelius – LUMINA
With LUMINA, world-renowned throat singer/performance artist/shaman SoRIAH returns with an incredible set of two collaborations featuring experimental legends Hans Joachim Roedelius (Cluster, Harmonia) and Norman Westberg (Swans). The music here is majestic, ethereal, and spiritual in both vibe and tone – and is intended to bring peace to the lost souls of those who have recently passed, a common overarching theme of SoRIAH‘s work. This album is also available here on beautiful 10” white smoke vinyl, with a hand numbered limited edition of 350. Simply wonderful.
Autoprozessor – Die Wiederkehr
Now, this is very cool! An album of guitar based ambient, that combines elements of drone and dark ambient with a more guitar centric sound to create an album that is quite unlike anything I’ve listened to for a while. Yes, it’s not as “dark” as a lot of dark ambient, but if you like your music to offer something a little different then this release is well worth your attention – I’ve had this album on repeat play since I first heard it, and I’ve found myself drawn again and again to the subtle soundscapes it contains. Gorgeous.
CrAwE – IC)))ENI
As regular readers will know, I am massive CrAwE fan, so when I saw that he was releasing a new album I was absolutely thrilled! IC)))ENI is “…Inspired by the original Anarcho-feminist Boudica and the people of the Iceni/Eceni whose footprints in the soil can be felt as I walk my dog Moon in the Norðfolc countryside…” and builds on the previous albums – with bowed guitar / bowed bass, synth, tape loops and field recordings all combining to produce a soundscape to the apocalypse. Here, especially in the first track, the subtle field recordings add an extra level of magic to the mix, resulting in some haunting, goosebump-inducing music. Very highly recommended!
Hiemis – Malleus Maleficarum
Spanish musician, Hiemis, combines dark ambient, ritual sounds, and drones to create albums of dark and disturbing environments. Malleus Maleficarum, as the name suggests, is based on the most famous of all books on witchcraft and perfectly captures the nature of the book that was ultimately used as a manual for the Inquisition in their cruel and bloodthirsty crusade against witchcraft. The music here is deliciously bleak, dark and heavy – and ideal for giving yourself nightmares. Stunning!
Venus Volcanism – Tissue
Venus Volcanism is a vocalist, musician, and sound explorer from the island of Crete, now based in Iceland. Tissue was written and recorded just 40 km south of the Arctic Circle, and combines ethereal vocals, drones and field recordings to wonderful effect. This is definitely one of those albums that is perfect for listening to on headphones as you lie back in a darkened room, losing yourself in the unfolding music. Beautiful.
Cryo Chamber – Dark Ambient of 2023
Continuing their yearly tradition, this is Cryo Chamber‘s annual album highlighting some of their many excellent releases from the previous twelve months. With contributions from Mount Shrine, Crypthios, DUGA-1, Void Stasis, Atrium Carceri, Caldon Glover, Gdanian, Kristof Bathory, and Keosz, this is a great way to discover some new artists and albums, and to explore the dark ambient genre in general. And what’s more, it’s completely free! And absolute must have for fans of dark ambient!
Click on the below image to go to this month’s This is Darkness playlist on BNDCMPR, which features 1 track from each of the above albums: