Tag: Rich Dodgin (Page 1 of 2)

Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – March 2021

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 links, and consider supporting the artists. Enjoy!


Ruptured World – Shore Rituals

I am a huge fan of Ruptured World, with each album combining haunting soundscapes with immersive story telling in a manner that is simply break taking. In this, Alistair Rennie‘s latest release, we take a break from his Planetary series and instead explore the enigmas of the sea and the eldritch legions of the deep. Dark and edgy drones are complimented by eerie and disturbing field recordings, resulting in a goose bump inducing masterpiece of dark ambient. If you’re a fan of the Archeoplanetary album, or any dark ambient with an undercurrent of existential horror, then you will really enjoy this. Fantastic!


Sanatana – Sanatana

Sanatana‘s impressive debut album of experimental / avantgarde music uses electro-acoustic processing techniques to fuse dark ambient, drones and noise elements together to create something rather special. In places the music here is soothing and life affirming, in others it is harsher and more challenging, but it’s all so beautifully done that the audio experience is rewarding throughout. This is one of those multi-layered albums that provides you with something new each time you listen to it, and is perfect for exploring your sense of self and your place within the eternal cycle of life. Wonderful.


DEN SORTE DØD – Den Sorte Død

The latest full length release from Offermose and Angst melds Berlin School ambience with dungeon synth soundscapes, resulting in an album that is comforting and sinister in equal measure. The here is music is lush and deep, pulling the listener under its spell with its gentle pace and emotive tones. Highly recommended for those looking for something with melancholic undertones and an introspective vibe!


58918012 – Signals

Ukranian dark ambient musician 58918012‘s latest release is an album of gorgeously warm lo-fi mixture of electronica, dub techno, dark ambient, and noise, and featuring heavy use of tape loops. Listening to the album provides a wonderfully relaxing dream-like audio experience, as strange electronic glitches and patterns work their hypnotic magic on you. In places the music reminds me of Boards of Canada (no bad thing!) and fans of soft, experimental electronica will absolutely adore this. Fantastic stuff!


Tir – Persepolis

Tir‘s latest album, a “redux” re-release of his 2019 album, The Vanished Civilization of Xattoth, is a neo-classical masterpiece. Dark ambient soundscapes blended with field recordings and multi-textured layers of classical music, create an awe-inspiring audio journey through the wonders of ancient times. This expanded re-release has added fresh orchestrations to the original, and many of the compositions have been extended to uncover a much darker side of the “Persepolis” narrative, and the end result is simply stunning. Highly recommended!


Die Toten Mäuse – Die Toten Mäuse

Die Toten Mäuse is the first release from German micro-label, Zustandsaufnahmen, and is an intriguing experimental album of dark ambient electronica. With additional audio elements from viola, loops, and samples, Marco Pascarelli and Fausto Caricato have created something unique and rather special. Each listen reveals something new, and I found myself revisiting the album again and again, each time excited at what I would discover. Incredible!


Tarme Til Alle – Penitentes

Tarme Til Alle‘s latest release is an album of dark and edgy synth-laced dark ambient. There are moments of calm and introspection, but the overall vibe is one of darkness and threatening undercurrents. This is the perfect soundtrack to the dystopian movie we’re now all living in – bleak, unforgiven… but tinged with hope. With this release, Roberto Quezada has demonstrated again what a talented musician and producer he is – and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for what he does next!


INSEON – ESPR

David Henriques is a Portuguese artist and musician based in Lisbon, and this – his first release under the moniker Inseon – is an impressive album of downtempo ambient / electronica, with subtly blended elements of piano, dark ambient soundscapes and field recordings added to the mix. This album is clearly a work of love, with the music providing a rewarding and intimate, heartfelt audio experience for the listener. It’s beautifully done, and well worth checking out if you’re looking for something life affirming. Wonderful.

 

Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – February 2021

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 links, and consider supporting the artists. Enjoy!


Eppu Kaipainen & Embry お兄ちゃん – Ainoa Suunta Pohjalla On Eteenpäin

Several months ago, we reviewed the impressive compilation album from the Decaying Spheres label, which included the stunning My House is Torn Down Every Evening by Eppu Kaipainen feat Embry お兄ちゃん. Now, these two artists have collaborated on their first full length release together, and it’s as good, if not better. This is an experimental / noise album, full of unsettling tape loops, drones, and field recordings that work together to create an edgy and otherworldly album. The end result is an audio experience that is both soothing and sinister. Very highly recommended!


Weird Gentleman – City Spleen

Dark ambient? Dark jazz? Doom jazz? I’m not sure what to call the music on this four-track EP from Milan, but whatever it is, I love it! It’s relaxing and comforting, but with a dark and brooding undercurrent. This is perfect music for night-time walks through the city… as you lose yourself in your thoughts, and try and ignore the approaching apocalypse. I will be definitely be keeping an eye out for future releases by Weird Gentleman!


Sabled Sun – 2149

Simon Heath‘s Sabled Suns 21xx series (about a man in hibernation waking up to a world in ruins) never disappoints, but with 2149 he’s taken things to the next level. Dark ambient / drone soundscapes are combined with cyberpunk electronica, to create a masterpiece of cinematic story telling, full of emotive melodies and heart-breaking beauty. In places, as we’re pulled down into the depths of Sector 33, it’s bleak and almost suffocating… but then, just when it feels like it might be too much, the mood lifts and there is hope. Outstanding!


Scott Lawlor – Quiet Winter

Scott Lawlor is fast becoming one of my favourite artists, creating dark ambient / drone albums of a consistently high standard. The music on Quiet Winter is one of his more minimalistic releases, combining subtle drones with haunting winter soundscapes, to perfectly capture the cold of the long winter nights. This is music for relaxing to, to listen to as you sit wrapped in a thick blanket in front of the fire, as the winter storm rages outside. Wonderful.


Sonologyst – Dust Of Human Race

With his latest release, Sonologyst (Raffaele Pezzella) continues with his reflection “… about life as a death spell… exploring various philosophies and traditions, from Buddhism to the old funeral rituals of Sardinia…”. To achieve this, dark ambient, drone, and industrial elements are expertly blended together – at times the end result is harsh and unyielding, in others it is more soothing and reassuring in nature. What this means for the listener is a rewarding sonic journey through the detriment and memories of human existence itself. Another impressive release from this skilful and talented musician!


Beyond the Ghost – The Last Resort

I’m a huge fan of Beyond the Ghost (Pierre Laplace), so I was thrilled when I heard about his new release – his first album in the Europa Series, “… a futuristic, bleak and moving sound voyage that merges electronics and acoustics…”. Dark ambient soundscapes with a dark jazz edge are complimented by subtle field recordings, resulting in a fantastical audio canvas of tones and textures, immersing us fully in the sorrowful and  suspended world of Berlin, 2060. This is ambient noir of the highest order, and if you’re a fan of dark ambient music that isn’t afraid to try something a little different, then you simply have to buy yourself a copy of this. Magnificent!


Hilyard – Division Cycle

The strange and otherworldly nature of the Division Cycle is evident within the first 2 minutes of this latest release from Hilyard, as unsettling field recordings play over an eerie ambient soundscape. This is the soundtrack to that strange nightmare that you can’t shake loose, even after you’ve sat up, switched the light on, and caught your breath. Here, there are things that shouldn’t be, lurking in the shadows, waiting to pull you down into the bowels of the earth “… where the roots of its ancient trees pull the flesh from the ramparts of civilization and giants move as clouds of remnant dust above the lungs of the Internal Forest….”. Absolutely incredible.

Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – January 2021

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 links, and consider supporting the artists. Enjoy!


Sonologyst – Ancient Death Cults and Beliefs

The latest release from Sonologyst is a ritual ambient exploration of the veneration of the dead in ancient cults and religions. With this album, Raffaele Pezzella has once again demonstrated his skilful ability to combine dark ambient / drone with field recordings – the end result is music that manages to be dark and unsettling in places, while primeval and soothing in others. This is deep, powerful music that you can lose yourself in – highly recommended!


Various Artists – Music For Abandoned Cold War Places

I’ve had this impressive album of dark ambient / drone / post-industrial soundscapes on repeat play since I first heard it. Over the course of an hour we are treated to twelve tracks that each encapsulate the atmosphere and feeling of abandoned cold war places in some way – some are abrasive and hard-edged, some rhythmically hypnotic, others eerie and haunting. Every track on here is exceptional, and massive credit to label ZeroK for assembling such a strong collection of material. Not only that, but while each of the contributions on this album offers something unique,  they all fit together perfectly to create an incredible listening experience. Outstanding!


Various Artists – Demonology In Dante’s Inferno

For this breath-taking release of dark ambient / drone / noise, Eighth Tower Records invited a group of musicians to create tracks inspired by the series of demonic figures that Dante and Virgil met as they travelled through the nine circle of Hell. The resulting album is a rewarding audio nightmare of echoing passages, otherworldly encounters, and disturbing sonic soundscapes. If you’re looking for something dark and unnerving then this is definitely worth checking out!


Scott Lawlor – New Beginnings and Reflections, Volume 2

To see in 2021, Scott Lawlor has released this second in his annual series of reflective ethereal long-form drone albums. It’s a delightfully minimalist seventy-two minute track that beautifully balances the darkness and the light – meaning the listener is able to find their own meaning within the unfolding meditative soundscape. This is the perfect soundtrack for some relaxation or introspection, to review the year that has been, and to look forward to the year that will be. Wonderful.


HLER – LGM-1

Created from the bursts of radio waves originating from space, this stunning album of dark ambient / drone / post-industrial is one of those which rewards the listener with something new to experience each time it’s played. The music here is mysterious, hypnotic and alien… and yet the audio journey we are taken on has a comforting aspect underlying it all. With LGM-1, Finnish duo Heikki Lindgren & Esa Ruoho have created something truly unique, and this is very much worth checking out.


Hiemal – Shishaldin

Hiemal’s latest release is another wonderfully dreamy drone album, clocking in at over an hour in length. Gradually evolving drones are complimented by subtly used field recordings, creating an audio journey that is perfect for de-stressing and forgetting all of your lockdown blues.

 

Nihil Impvlse – Stasis – Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

Highly recommended!

Written by: Rich Dodgin

Various – Yig – Review

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

Tracklist:
01. Yig 1
02. Yig 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Rich Dodgin

Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – December 2020

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 links, and consider supporting the artists. Enjoy!


Various Artists – Selected Ambient Works From Italy

The debut album from Italian label, Tiny Drones For Lovers, is an impressive 18 track compilation of ambient-space-drone from the Italian underground scene, featuring a range of ambient-drone that will have something for everyone – from relaxing music to chill-out to, to darker more unnerving stuff that will set your teeth on edge. I’ve come across some of the artists before, but many are wonderful new discoveries for me that I will be exploring further. Definitely a label to keep an eye on!


Grande Loge – Mantras

The first full length release from France’s enigmatic Grande Loge, this is an album of ritual ambient excellence, perfectly fusing together elements of folk, transcendental chanting, and a host of traditional instruments to create something very special indeed. The end result is a timeless album of mystical and spiritual music that is highly recommended!


Scott Lawlor – Rex Gentium

The latest album from Scott Lawlor features three tracks that “…are intended to help with your wait, help you take your foot off the accelerator and just be…“. These are subtle, leisurely pieces, perfect for listening to as you lie back on the sofa, get in tune with yourself, and let the pressure and worries of every day life slip away. Simply wonderful.


Randal Collier-Ford – Advent

Randal Collier-Ford‘s latest album is a dark industrial ambient album of discordant, brooding tones and otherworldly, Lovecraftian sounds. It’s an impressively bleak and unsettling soundscape album guaranteed to give you nightmares. Definitely an album to check out if you’re a fan of Cryo Chamber‘s heavier releases!


Ruptured World – Interplanetary

With Interplanetary, Ruptured World takes us back to Proxima Centauri b, to continue the story from Exoplanetary as “… a follow up mission of search and recovery is now underway, led by Dr Phoenix Macrae, son of the Chief Science Officer of the previous mission, Dr Hector Macrae…“. This is another spectacular album of dark space ambient, with Alistair Rennie once again demonstrating his incredible ability to combine haunting soundscapes with immersive and gripping story telling. Wow!


Xerxes The Dark – X​-​Theory (Best Of 2005​-​2020)

With over 4 hours of music, this 40 track compilation showcases some of the best of Xerxes The Dark‘s solo work from the past 15 years. With a range of musical styles (from drone to ambient to industrial, and more), this is a great introduction to this talented musician’s work if you’re not sure where to start with his other albums. Recommended!


Altarmang – Mothstar

Moth Star is the second album by Altarmang. An intuitive sonic exploration of planetary and abysmal constellations captured on reel-to-reel tape. A documentation from beyond the waking sleep.


Imprisoner – How the End Might Roar

Imprisoner returns with a second album, ‘How the End Might Roar’. What was first intended as a black metal album turned into a strange hybrid of black, ritualistic ambience, with songs being passed back and forth between Flavius Ion and Par Bostrom (who is a guest on all seven tracks on the album), for several months. While the previous release had a more poignant feel, ‘How the End Might Roar’ is centered around themes both musicians love very much: winter nights and their ethereal uncertainty.


Caleb R.K. Williams – Skies

Caleb R.K. Williams, head of the French acousto-drone ambient label Eagle Stone Collective, is back with another solo work. This improvisation is one of my favorites in his recent releases, a thick foreboding envelops us as we stride across sandy dunes, toward a future unknown.

 

Scott Lawlor – Interview

Quick housekeeping: If you want to make sure you know about all new publications on This Is Darkness, the best way is to subscribe to our email list. You can do this by submitting your email address via ‘SUBSCRIBE TO BLOG VIA EMAIL’. You will find this in the right panel as you scroll down slightly. As Facebook is forcing people to spend more and more money for less and less coverage, this is becoming increasingly necessary!

I’ve been wanting to speak with Scott since I first heard the album Life Passes Slowly Unto Death. Scott’s music is sometimes dark and edgy, other times lighter and relaxing – but it’s always powerful, soul-stirring stuff that cannot fail to move you. 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: Scott Lawlor

 

Rich: Hi Scott! 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.

Scott: Thank you, I appreciate the opportunity.

Rich: Firstly, can you tell us a little about yourself.

Scott: I am a socially introverted, totally blind stay-at-home dad who has a curious mind about many things and uses music to express myself as I have found that, after dropping out of graduate school, where I was getting a degree in counseling, I found that I put sounds together much better than words.  This is a bit ironic since I have a double major in English and Psychology and originally wanted to be a novelist after my undergraduate adviser talked me out of pursuing a career as an English teacher.

Rich: For those who aren’t familiar with your music, can you provide a brief overview of your musical projects and the music you make.

Scott: I am the type of person who doesn’t like to do the same thing twice, or at least, not twice in a row so my musical explorations range from light ethereal ambient, to solo piano, cosmic space music, dark ambient, some progressive rock and even a bit of noise music under a different side project that I don’t release too much in these days.

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

Scott: Most of the time, I just sit down at the keyboard, hit record and just start playing.

I used to exclusively use hardware but after hearing about Native Instruments and their Komplete keyboards which have accessible features for the visually impaired, people in the blind community spent literally years trying to convince me to take the plunge into software synthesizers.  I was always nervous about doing this because I thought it would be too complicated and I would rather spend my time creating music then learning about and troubleshooting new technology.

After a while, when I didn’t feel so inspired by the limited number of sounds available on my Roland synth, I decided to just go for it and so within 5 days of getting my new keyboard and all the software I would need, I was up and running and recording.

 

Rich: Do you have a particular personal belief system, and if so how is that reflected in music?

Scott: That’s a complicated question and my answer could probably be a novel on the subject.

I was raised Catholic but went to a southern  Baptist university and discovered that I didn’t fit in very well when it came to trying to talk theology to the fundamentalists.  It was a frustrating experience to try to encourage them to go beyond the literal interpretation of scripture and I remember one short conversation that summarizes the problem quite well.

My friend: “If the bible says that Jonah was swallowed by a Whale, then I believe it.”

Me: “what does that story say about his journey spiritually or psychologically?”

If I could see, I probably would have seen my friend roll her eyes and just walk away.

Then there was the professor who had issues with the notion that Jesus went to hell for 3 days, or so tradition says.  The Baptists at that time just weren’t interested in exploring those kinds of things, so again, I just felt out of place when it came to religion.

After going to a Catholic graduate school, I learned of things like Centering prayer and some of the existentialists like Rollo May, Erik Fromm, Saurian Kierkegaard and the like and I turned to more new-age ideologies but it all morphed, at some point, into deism, you know, the idea that God is the clockmaker who wound up the universe and doesn’t really intervene.

After my brother died in 2017 from an 11 month battle with stage 4 sarcoma, and my music took on a much more personal meaning with a trilogy of albums, some of which were nominated for ambient album of the year, I began to read about and listen to different accounts of people who had near death experiences and how these had profoundly influenced and changed their lives.

I am still fascinated by the topic to this day but I don’t really have any specific spiritual practices like prayer, meditation or going to church.

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

Scott: When I was living in Akron Ohio and the surrounding areas during most of the 1990’s, I performed live at different coffee houses, restaurants, a few malls, and even an outside wedding for a friend.  performing live was okay and at the time, I had an ensoniq sq1 keyboard where I would preprogram a lot of the backing tracks to my music and do improvising over it in a live setting.  On occasion, the system would crash and I’d have to stay up all night to redo everything for the gig the next day.

This was before I discovered ambient music and I was playing more new-age material, inspired by people like Suzanne Ciani, Yanni and artists like that.

Once, a coffee house owner paid me in coffee beans for my performance so I ended up getting 9 pounds of coffee for that gig.  We ambient musicians, we’ll take anything.

 

Rich: 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?

Scott: I’ve always been interested in music from when I was a small boy living in Rhode island from ruining my mother’s Elvis collection by scratching the needle across the albums because I liked the sound, to banging on the piano in my aunt Joanne’s basement at her house at cape cod.

I would create weird collages out of different music using tape recorders and record players and I was listening to the rolling Stones and Pink Floyd from the time I was 5 years old, maybe younger.

It wouldn’t be until around 1997 when someone sent me a cassette recording of a Robert Rich sleep concert that he gave in Cleveland, Ohio that my interest in ambient music would be discovered.  After that, I heard the work of Klaus Schulze, Steve roach and decided myself to give writing ambient music a try.  That’s when I wrote my first ambient album called Times Escape which wouldn’t be released until around 16 years later in 2013 on the weareallghosts internet label.

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

Scott: Yes, many including the aforementioned Robert Rich, Klaus Schulze and Steve roach along with Tangerine Dream, Lucette Bourdin, John Zorn, Merzbow, Lustmord, Kammarheit, SVARTSINN and Harold Budd just to list a small selection.

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

It’s a rather expansive genre with so many people releasing so many albums, yours truly included and the variety of releases out there from artist to artist is pretty amazing.

A lot of people over this last year have commented in general that the limitless options of sonic exploration available to them have provided a lifeline in a world where it feels like almost everything else is spinning out of control.  Music is one of the few grounding therapeutic sources out there and I am humbled and honored to be a part of such a talented community of ambient artists all over the world.

Rich: What are your future musical plans?

Scott: I’ve got a couple of collaborations lined up for 2021, I may still do isolation concerts on YouTube from time to time and I’ve got a sequel to my 2015 album called Journey through the Bootes void that I started working on in 2015 and it’s still not complete.  It’s my longest album to date clocking in at 12 and a half hours.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Not that I can think of.

Rich: Thank you so much for your time, Scott!

 

Scott Lawlor Links

Facebook
Bandcamp
Youtube

Scott Lawlor – Life Passes Slowly Unto Death – Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very highly recommended.

Written by: Rich Dodgin

Eppu Kaipainen – Poiu – Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Rich Dodgin

Hiemal – Denali (VHS Tape) – Review

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

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

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

So, what about the music and film themselves?

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

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

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

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

Highly recommended!

Written by: Rich Dodgin

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