Tag: Rich Dodgin

Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – September 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!


Grove of Whispers – Shovelful of Silt

Grove of Whispers continues to release amazing music at pace – each month releasing at least one full album of mesmerising low-tempo drone / dark ambient that I end up with on repeat play. Shovelful of Silt is one of his more unsettling and eerie releases, but as always the overall listening experience is a deeply relaxing and rewarding one.


NYVVA – Gypsy

I fell in love with the music of NYVVA the very first time I heard the wonderful blend of electronic ambient tones and natural sitar drones on his Aether EP – so I was absolutely delighted when I learned that a full album was being released. Gypsy continues in the same vein as the EP, with subtle electronic rhythms and gorgeous sitar sounds combining to produce something very special indeed. Yes, this is more ambient than dark ambient, but this is a wonderful album, and well worth checking out if you’re looking for something a little different.


Bonzaii – Death in the Cities / Tempus Fugit

Death in the Cities, The first half of this latest release from Bonzaii, is dark, twisted and heavy as hell – discordant drones and pulverising synth tones are layered together  and the end result is a goosebump-inducing nightmarish soundtrack from hell. Tempus Fugit is a lighter, more poignant track, but no less impressive, and the contrast between the two pieces works wonderfully.


Various Artists – Dark Ambient Vol. 20

The Sombre Soniks dark ambient label specialises in music of a “… ritual or ethnomuzikologikal nature…” and this latest album, a compilation of twenty-three tracks from forty-six artists (collaborating in pairs), is another high quality release. This album is a little “harsher” in overall sound than some of their previous releases, but that’s no bad thing, and each track offers something different so is definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for something from a number of up-and-coming dark ambient musicians.
Full disclaimer – the album features a track that our very own Rich Dodgin (using his moniker Hellschreiber) collaborated on.


H

Hymnambulae – Andarlīh

I’ve been really looking forward to this release! Andarlīh shows a new and darker side of the Hymnambulae project, which consists of siblings Åsa & Pär Boström (Kammarheit, Cities Last Broadcast). Andarlīh is a ritualistic electro-acoustic ambient album, which was recorded in the northern city of Umeå, but also in the subterranean church of Saint Anna, which resides a cool 90 meters below the surface of Lapland, Sweden. This album is the perfect accompaniment to your spiritual practices, or equally suiting as the background atmosphere to your casual daily activities.


Phonothek – Styx

 

Since their debut, I’ve been a huge fan of the dark jazz stylings of Phonothek.  Their form of dark ambient takes on that smokey club vibe more often than not, feeling like the dark ambient answer to a band like Bohren und der Club of Gore. While the overtly jazzy sections are kept to a minimum on this release, the cinematics and atmosphere are at an all-time brooding high.  For we are indeed being escorted through the underworld, witnessing macabre sites and sounds along the way that will leave the listener with a lingering sense of dread.


Mount Shrine & alphaXone – Dream Chambers

 

This was an album destined to be a classic. Mount Shrine is known for his ASMR-ready dark ambient albums, which tend to be perfect for sleep assistance. His combination of cold/polar sensibilities with crisp field recordings are the perfect balance to the exquisite otherworldly drone-work of alphaXone. We are left with an album that has carefully crafted, pulsing drones over a plethora of intricate tiny sounds. Whether falling asleep or just looking for some relaxation, Dream Chambers will certainly help connect listeners to a deeply rewarding liminal space.


Yen Pox – Between the Horizon and the Abyss

 

For a throw-back album, this month I picked the most recent full-length by dark ambient masters Yen Pox. I picked this one up on double-vinyl back when it released on Malignant, and I find that it is always one of my favorites to return to over the years. The sounds are brooding and massive. Waves of drone crash through the speaker system as the wails of dying are drowned out by out-of-control industrial machinery. A glimpse into an apocalyptic future, which seems to be inching ever closer.


 

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

 

Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – July 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!


Mortemhize – Herald of Doom

I’ve been a huge fan of Russian neoclassical ambient artist, Mortemhize, for some time now, so I was thrilled when I learned he was releasing this new 6 track album. This is hauntingly sad music, played beautifully on piano and stringed instruments, complimented by subtly blended ambient soundscapes. The end result is music that evokes strong feelings of melancholy and despair – yet provides a wonderful listening experience.


Teeth Engraved With the Names of the Dead – It Will Be Dark Soon

This is one of those albums that just blew me away on the first listen – with its dark ambient, drone, and industrial elements coalescing to create the definitive soundtrack to the apocalypse. No, it’s not an easy listen, but that’s the point. If you’re looking for something on the noisier side of the dark ambient genre, then this album is definitely worth checking out.


Extinct Anatomies – Above The Wandering Land

I’ve had this album from Chilean dark ambient musician Extinct Anatomies on repeat play for the last couple of weeks – its blending of dark ambient and down-tempo industrial elements hitting a sweet spot that I’ve been drawn to again and again. I can’t wait to see what this artist releases next.


Desiderii Marginis – Departed

I’ve been eagerly awaiting for this album to be released ever since Johan Levin mentioned it in an interview last year. It was worth the wait. This is an incredible album of atmospheric dark ambient soundscapes – powerful and emotive music that draws you in and takes you to another world. The inclusion of reworks of 3 classic Desiderii Marginis pieces – Deadbeat, Worlds Apart, and I Am Without Rule (Sum Sine Regno) – is an added bonus. Once again, Johan Levin has shown why he is considered one of the masters of the genre.


Grove of Whispers – Borderland

Grove of Whispers is fast becoming a favourite of mine – his drone-ambient albums always striking the perfect balance between the darkness and the light. Borderland is an album of unsettling drones and eerie dark ambient soundscapes… but its subtle layers and underlying gentle vibe provide the perfect soundtrack to relax, reflect, and lose yourself to.


Keosz – Vigor

The latest album from Slovakian ambient / electronic musician Keosz is actually the soundtrack to Vigor – a “…free-to-play shoot ‘n’ loot game where you build the Shelter in post-war Norway…”. And, as a soundtrack album, some of the music here is a little more uplifting or hard hitting than your typical dark ambient. But because it all flows together so well, I found myself drawn in and enjoying the whole album experience – regardless of whether certain parts of it were dark ambient or not.


Various Artists – +​+​Transcend Transmute Kreate​+​+

The Sombre Soniks dark ambient label specialises in music of a “… ritual or ethnomuzikologikal nature…” and this latest album, a compilation of tracks from twenty-seven artists, is the perfect showcase for the consistently high quality output the label releases. Each track offers something different, yet the pieces all fit together to create a wonderfully unified audio experience that leaves the listener feeling touched by something special.


Mørket – Shadows of Existence

This impressive dark ambient release from Greece, is described by its creator, Mørket, as “… a journey to the subconscious and the hidden, darker aspects of the mind, the moments that are stored within the memory…”. It sums up this album perfectly – where evolving drones and repeating electronica combine together to create a sublime dream-like soundtrack. I will definitely be checking out more from this artist.


Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – June 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!


Beyond The Ghost – Eternal Drift

I’m a big fan of Beyond The Ghost‘s previous offering, You Disappeared, so I was thrilled when I heard he was releasing another album on the Cryo Chamber label. Eternal Drift is a dark, brooding album, of cinematic soundscapes that provides the listener with an audio experience that manages to be both melancholic and disturbing. The unsettling drone sounds are complimented by haunting piano and cello work, resulting in music that is sad and despairing, but has an underlying human warmth to it. This is an incredible album, and with it, Pierre Laplace has firmly established himself as one of the masters of the genre.


Bonzaii – A Person / Life on a Blade

These two tracks from German artist, Bonzaii, have been stuck in my head for the last week, in a wonderfully endless loop of wistful poignancy. 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. I can’t wait to see what Bonzaii releases next.


Paul Vinsonhaler – Antigonish

Strictly speaking, this isn’t dark ambient – not in the purist sense – but, this electronic / industrial / soundtrack album definitely includes a number of dark ambient elements. This is dark and edgy music, the kind that grabs you by the throat right from the off and doesn’t let go until the album has finished. As a result, Antigonish may not be for everyone – but I was completely blown away the first time I played the album… and I’ve had it on repeat play ever since.


Equal Stones – Catharsis

Ambient producer, Amandus Schaap, describes his latest release as “… a very personal record, mostly functioning as a form of therapy and to release long emotional blockage…” which gives you a good idea of what to expect of Catharsis. This is heartfelt, powerful music – sad, moving and almost overwhelming at times. It’s beautiful, yet bleak stuff, and if you’re in the mood for something on the downhearted side, this album is perfect.


Anne Sulikowski – Bedroom Drone

This impressive collection of drone and lo-fi electronic music is the latest release from Canadian composer, Anne Sulikowski, who uses guitar, loops, synths and pedals to create unique sonic landscapes. This is a laid back, chilled out album of experimental electronic and ambient music that is soothing and cinematic in equal measure. I will definitely be checking out more of Anne’s music, and with with an extensive back catalogue of 73 (!) releases, I know there will be plenty to keep me entertained for a long time to come.


Mind over MIDI – Skuddår

Mind over MIDI‘s latest release is an album of arctic inspired drone ambient. Helge Tømmervåg has done an amazing job of combining natural field recordings with subtle synth work and drone sounds, to create beautiful meditative polar soundscapes. This album transports the listener to the far, wild reaches of Norway, away from all the every day stresses of modern life. Wonderful.


 

Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – April 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!


Michael‘s Picks for April

bvdub – Ten Times the World Lied

I’ve been a huge fan of bvdub since I first found his work on Glacial Movements 2017 album, Epilogues for the End of the Sky (read my 2017 review here), which was a beautifully bleak piece of arctic drone with fleeting glimpses of more trance/electronica type vibes. Ten Times the World Lied returns Brock van Wey to the Glacial Movements label for another album which shares many similar vibes to the aforementioned work, ranging from moments of engulfing tension to a minimal and endearing, piano-laden beauty. As if one is wandering alone through a mild northern storm, reminiscing on times of love and others of despair, giving each their due importance. As many of us walk/sit/work alone during these hard times, bvdub‘s sounds seem ever-important and timely.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Mount Shrine – Shortwave Ruins

Mount Shrine is back with another variant on their signature combo of delicate field recordings, slowly evolving drones and the occasional samples of ‘radio-transmission’ voices. Shortwave Ruins brings these radio samples to the forefront, making for a more active listen than the previous albums. It’s certainly a perfect album for the hours winding down before bed, and for those that sleep with the TV on, this would be a useful replacement! For me the album evokes the same sort of frigid ambient, which simultaneously has a heart-warming effect, for which I often go to Northaunt, which is my next recommendation for the month!

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Northaunt/Svartsinn – The Borrowed World

This is an album that solidified my love for dark ambient. It is inspired by ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy. While there is never a bad reason to pull this vinyl out and give it a spin, it seems even more appropriate during this current pandemic. You can check out my previous deep analysis of the album/book here, and an interview I did with Hærleif Langås of Northaunt here.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Old Sorcery – An Inkling of Void

Old Sorcery is back with a new EP, An Inkling of Void, running slightly over 20 min. The album is presented on Electronic Purification Records in a vinyl edition, which also includes 2018’s The Path Lies Hidden EP on it’s reverse side. An Inkling of Void is one of the more subtle releases by Old Sorcery, focusing more on dreamy synths than their more frequent and overtly dungeon synth vibes of the previous full-length releases.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.


Rich‘s Picks for April

Obsidian Relic – Obsidian Relic

Daniel Edenfield’s previous releases have been black metal / darkwave (Throne of Anguish), dungeon synth / soundtrack (Seregost), and cinematic audio horror stories (The Night Keep). His latest project, Obsidian Relic, takes the dark ambient elements present on those albums, to the next level – with brooding synth work, eerie drone soundscapes, and post-industrial undertones. The end result in an impressive album that I’ve had on repeat play for days. I will definitely be watching out for future releases from this artist.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Moonshine Blues – Through

Through is an album of mesmerising, melancholic soundscapes – where drones, strings and synths have been expertly combined to create music that is incredibly beautiful… and almost unbearably heartbreaking. All five tracks are imbued with a real sense of sadness and regret, and the listener is taken on an emotional journey of sorrow and self-reflection that is simply wonderful.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Hiemal – Vacant

Hiemal is fast becoming a favourite of mine – the winter-themed drone ambient soundscapes he creates never failing to chill me out and transport me away from everything. Vacant is one of his more meditative albums, with long form drones blended perfectly with the gentle sounds of wind-swept trees and distant birdsong. This is music to lose yourself in.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Grove of Whispers – The Sleep of Reason

This album of drone ambient / dark ambient provides the perfect soundtrack to the unfolding pandemic, with its bleak, haunting soundscapes… and pleasantly soothing undertones. This is deep, multi-layered music, and listening to it is an intense experience. The world is going to hell, but The Sleep of Reason tells us there is still hope…

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Wings of an Angel – Surrender to Emptiness

Israeli Wings of an Angel describe the music they create as “… spiritual ambient & drone music for meditation, dreaming and sleep… “ and, listening to the dreamy warm drones of Surrender to Emptiness, I have to say that’s an accurate description. This is beautifully calming music, ideal for unwinding and drifting off to sleep at the end of a hard day.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Archean Nights – Metropolis

The latest release from French artist, Archean Nights, is an album of unsettling dark ambient / drone ambient, that conveys a real sense of dread and growing unease as it plays. The immersive soundscapes are truly captivating, with so many subtle nuances to pull you in, and each listen provides a powerfully emotional experience.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – March 2020

Here are the dark ambient albums that we at This is Darkness are currently listening to – 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!

 

New Risen Throne – The Outside

This album of post-industrial dark ambient is incredible – its dark, cinematic soundscapes providing an audio experience that is simply breathtaking. Both Michael and Rich here at This is Darkness and have had this album on repeat play since they first heard it. Read our full review of the album here.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

NERATERRÆ – Scenes From The Sublime

NERATERRÆ‘s second album, Scenes From the Sublime, is even more impressive than his well-received debut, with ten tracks of dark ambient and drone inspired by visual masterpieces from the world of art. This is a wonderful album, with so many textures and levels of detail to it that each listen is a joy. Read our full review of the album here.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Hiemal – Summoning the Hall of Stars

The latest release from Hiemal features relaxing drone sounds and subtle field recordings… and is almost six hours in length(!) Summoning the Hall of Stars is another drone ambient triumph by the French musician, and is the perfect soundtrack to chill-out to. Read our recent interview with Hiemal here.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

The Last One – Bastards and Brothers

This is an album of seriously eerie and brooding dark ambient from Russia. Drone, dark ambient, and noise elements are expertly combined together to create a sinister soundscape that provides a wonderfully unsettling listening experience. Impressive stuff!

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Apocryphos – Against Civilization

Against Civilization is a guitar-driven dark ambient album that provides the perfect soundtrack to the self-isolation apocalypse… the music is a haunting, melancholic blend of atmospheric ambience and field recordings, and listening to it makes you want to stay inside, turn the lights off and escape from everything.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Ugasanie – Ice Breath of Antarctica

This album of incredibly atmospheric polar ambient was actually released back in March 2018, but since discovering it earlier this month, Rich has been listening to it almost daily. Dark ambient and drones sounds are expertly combined with field recordings of snow storms, blizzards and cracking ice flows, to create a powerful audio experience.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

SVR – Republic

Over the last couple of months, Scottish dark ambient musician SVR has released five albums / EPs, each showcasing fantastic lo-fi electronic drone music. It’s minimalist stuff, but the experimental soundscapes have a depth to them that you can lose yourself in. Wonderful!

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Various Artists – Drone Islands Volume I / II

This impressive collection of drone / ambient drone tracks features a number of well known names from the scene, as well as some lesser known artists. As you’d expect from a compilation album, there is quite a range of musical styles and tones featured across the twenty-five tracks, but there is no filler and nothing here disappoints.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Black Box Memories – Missing Heart Pieces

Missing Heart Pieces is a melancholic album of ambient and dark ambient compositions, overlaid with spoken contributions from a number of the musician’s long lost friends. The resulting pieces of music are all tinged with sadness and regret, yet beautiful. Powerful stuff.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Jinthra – Wotanist Affair

The latest release from Czech ritual artist Jindřich Spilka features four tracks of ritual ambient / drone music that grab the listener by the throat right from the off, and don’t let get until the album has finished. It’s wonderful stuff – dark and heavy, and laden with the soundscapes of ancient otherworldly forces.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Macrogramma – Volume 2

Italian sound designer & composer Macrogramma creates beautiful electronic ambient / drone music, that provide the perfect soundtrack to self-reflection and dreaming. This album is simply mesmerising, and listening to it is an uplifting and life-affirming experience.

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Mortemhize – Through the Night

This neoclassical ambient album is evocative and atmospheric, with soaring dark ambient soundscapes complimented by haunting piano work. It’s unsettling in places, sad in others – but all hangs together perfectly to create a unified sense of melancholy. Outstanding!

Digital album available on Bandcamp here.

 

Written by Rich Dodgin

New Risen Throne – The Outside – Review

Artist: New Risen Throne
Album: The Outside
Release date: 7 February 2020
Label: Cyclic Law / Old Europa Cafe
Reviewer: Rich Dodgin

Tracklist:
01. The Outside (I)
02. What We Have Seen
03. The Outside (II)
04. Corrosion Of Pillars
05. The Outside (III)
06. The Outside (IV)
07. Birth Of A New Disciple (II)
08. A Vision Of The Hidden (Sysselmann Remix)
09. Echoes From The Loss (Visions Remix)
10. Breath Of Growing Structures (Taphephobia Remix)
11. Humani Nihil (Phantom Ship Remix)
12. Sad Silent Prostrations Before The Monolith (Vestigial Remix)
13. Sigh Of The Soul (Apocryphos Remix)
14. Signs Of The Approaching Wastefulness (II) (New Risen Throne Remix)
15. Withered Regions (TeHÔM Remix)

With New Risen Throne‘s previous releases, project founder Stiehl (Gabriele Panci) established himself as one of the masters of the dark ambient genre, and we’ve been eagerly awaiting a full album of new material since 2011’s Loneliness Of Hidden Structures.

Well, New Risen Throne has rewarded us for our patience, because The Outside is a double album that clocks in at almost 2 hours!

The first part of the album contains 7 cinematic dark ambient / post-industrial tracks, continuing the conceptual soundtrack series that began with 2007’s Whispers Of The Approaching Wastefulness:

After centuries of isolation the human race begins a journey in search of the causes that led to the end of its world, and for the first time it approaches the Structures, new life forms that have developed and evolved in the emptiness of “The Outside”.

Opening track, “The Outside (I)”, is a claustrophobic number, with underlying deep drone sounds accompanied by the echoing of clanging machinery, and distant chanting and sounds of distress. It’s an unnerving start to things, and it lets you know what to expect for the rest of the album. Stiehl describes New Risen Throne as “…cold and desolate soundscapes that will leave you feeling utterly scared and alone…”, and listening to this first track it’s easy to see why.

“What We Have Seen” is less abrasive, but no less unsettling, with hypnotic, repeated soundscapes that wash over you in heavy waves. “The Outside (II)” begins in a similar vein, albeit at a slower, more brooding pace… before things ramp up significantly and all hell breaks loose – as the cacophony increases and becomes downright threatening – and then, mercifully, the noise ebbs away, leaving the listener with a temporary feeling of relief.

Fourth track, “Corrosion Of Pillars”, starts off quietly, but soon morphs into a brutally caustic sonic assault. It’s impressive stuff, and perfectly demonstrates Gabriele Panci’s talents, as he seamlessly blends dark ambient and post-industrial soundscapes together to create something special.

“The Outside (III)” and “The Outside (IV)” are more measured, with less variation in tone and pace. Yet the sense of dread and other-worldliness is as prevalent here as on earlier parts of the album.

The final track of the first part of the album, “Birth Of A New Disciple (II)”, finishes things off beautifully – the post-industrial elements gradually fade away, leaving us with more soothing ambient textures… and yet, there is a real sense that this is just the beginning of something…

 

The second part of the album features 8 older New Risen Throne tracks, revised and remixed by close friends and collaborators: Sysselmann, Visions, Taphephobia, Phantom Ship, Vestigial, Apocryphos and TeHÔM.

Each track has been revisited and re-interpreted, while retaining the underlying essence of the original version. And though these tracks originally appeared on four different albums (see end of this review, for more details),  Stiehl has ensured that they all perfectly compliment each other, as well as the first 7 tracks – meaning that The Outside feels like one whole complete album, rather than one of two halves.

“A Vision Of The Hidden (Sysselmann Remix)” is a slow, almost meditative piece, with chanting and the echo of industrial machinery providing an – almost – calming feel to things. “Echoes From The Loss (Visions Remix)” begins in a similarly mellow vibe, with subtle drone sounds and crashing waves… before the droning becomes increasingly harsher and urgent.

“Breath Of Growing Structures (Taphephobia Remix)” is a wonderful, if disquieting listen, like trying to make sense of shadows on the wall when you’re half asleep… more haunting nightmare than pleasant dream. Fortunately, the next track, “Humani Nihil (Phantom Ship Remix)” is a brighter ambient piece, with the sounds of waves breaking on the shore and uplifting soothing drone and synth sounds.

The next couple of tracks, “Sad Silent Prostrations Before The Monolith (Vestigial Remix)” and “Sigh Of The Soul (Apocryphos Remix)”, are both dark, brooding numbers, with a sense of underlying threat, and melancholy and sadness respectively. “Signs Of The Approaching Wastefulness (II) (New Risen Throne Remix)” is an eerie, minimalist down-tempo piece, that somehow manages to be both chilling and chilled-out at the same time.

Final track, “Withered Regions (TeHÔM Remix)” finishes things off nicely. A bleak tone underscores a number of disturbing elements – including drones, strings, echoes, and mutterings. It starts off relatively gently, but as as the track nears its end, things build to a climactic finale of anguished sub-human roars.

New Risen Throne has released another incredible album with The Outside – its dark, cinematic soundscapes providing an audio experience that is simply breathtaking.

If you’re a fan of intelligent, multi-layered dark ambient / post-industrial music, then you absolutely have to own a copy of this album.

Written by Rich Dodgin

 

Additional album information

  • A Vision Of The Hidden (Sysselmann Remix) – original version on 2011’s Loneliness Of Hidden Structures
  • Echoes From The Loss (Visions Remix) – original version on 2011’s Loneliness Of Hidden Structures
  • Breath Of Growing Structures (Taphephobia Remix) – original version on 2011’s Loneliness Of Hidden Structures
  • Humani Nihil (Phantom Ship Remix) – original version on 2009’s Crossing The Withered Regions
  • Sad Silent Prostrations Before The Monolith (Vestigial Remix) – original version on 2016’s New Risen Throne compilation album
  • Sigh Of The Soul (Apocryphos Remix) – original version on 2009’s Crossing The Withered Regions
  • Signs Of The Approaching Wastefulness (II) (New Risen Throne Remix) – original version on 2007’s Whispers Of The Approaching Wastefulness
  • Withered Regions (TeHÔM Remix) – original version on 2009’s Crossing The Withered Regions

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NERATERRÆ – Scenes From the Sublime – Review

Artist: NERATERRÆ
Album: Scenes From the Sublime
Release date: 20 March 2020
Label: Cyclic Law / Liberation Through Hearing
Reviewer: Rich Dodgin

Tracklist:
01. The Last Abjurer (feat. Phelios)
02. Fate Unveiled (feat. Dødsmaskin)
03. In Deafening Silence (feat. Phragments)
04. Thou, Daemon (vocals by Yann Hagimont from Cober Ord and George Zafiriadis from Martyria)
05. Passion Domain (feat. Mount Shrine)
06. The Unfathomable Lives Again (feat. Xerxes The Dark and lithophone by Yann Hagimont from Cober Ord)
07. Doorway to the I (feat. Alphaxone)
08. The Collapse of Matter and Time
09. Towards Oneiric Truths (feat. Leila Abdul-Rauf)
10. Virtues of the Dawn (feat. Shrine)

NERATERRÆ‘s debut album, The Substance of Perception, was a daring work featuring collaborations with some of the finest dark ambient, drone and ritual musicians. The album received rave reviews and quickly established Alessio Antoni as a rising star on the dark ambient scene.

Now, less than a year later, NERATERRÆ releases Scenes From the Sublime, a ten track album inspired by visual masterpieces from the world of art – as Alessio Antoni describes in his own words:

“The album is my personal tribute to some of my favorite painters, to their minds capable of channeling the sublime, to their masterpieces. I realized 10 audial visions, each track is an ode to a different painting.”

It’s a fascinating concept, spanning across over four centuries of masterpieces, with musical collaborations from Alphaxone, Dödsmaskin, Leila Abdul-Rauf, Mount Shrine, Phelios, Phragments, Shrine, Xerxes The Dark, George Zafiriadis from Martyria and Yann Hagimont from Cober Ord.

Opening track, “The Last Abjurer”, is dark, brooding piece – with a cinematic edge, and an underlying sense of growing dread – that wouldn’t sound out of place on the soundtrack for Bladerunner 2049. It’s an incredible start to the album, and when I first heard it previewed a couple of months ago I just knew I was going to have to buy Scenes From the Sublime on the strength of that one track alone.

 

“Fate Unveiled” starts in a similarly punchy vein and, as the track unfolds, it becomes increasingly unsettling and abrasive, before finishing with a more melancholic, almost soothing vibe. It’s impressive emotive stuff, demonstrating perfectly how NERATERRÆ is continually growing and developing as a dark ambient musician.

“In Deafening Silence” is an eerie, chill-inducing minimalist number. Listening to it, it feels like you’re waiting for something horrible to happen… for the horrors just out of sight to step out of the shadows and claim your soul… And in “Thou, Daemon”, with its scratching and screaming, and speaking in other-worldly tongues, it sounds like that is exactly what is happening.

“Passion Domain” is a more comfortable listen, with waves of delicate synth-work, overlaid with subtle clicks and glitches of distortion. “The Unfathomable Lives Again” is similarly chilled – though with a darker undertone – as an echoing soundscape and distant whispering merge together to create a sense of unease and unfathomable strangeness.

“Doorway to the I”, takes things even further, with the sound palette shifting into a starker aural experience provided by repeating drone sounds and shimmers. “The Collapse of Matter and Time” is a – relatively – warmer track, with its hypnotic ticking clock, and a soundscape of groans, industrial clanking and haunting chimes, but one that still conjures up a sense of claustrophobia of the disturbing unknown.

“Towards Oneiric Truths” begins with the sounds of waves breaking on the shore, before the melancholic piano and siren’s calls take over. The resulting track is a sad, thought provoking piece, that carries you along with it, deep in your own thoughts -before the music fades and the sounds of the sea return.

Final track, “Virtues of the Dawn”, finishes the album off beautifully – with an uplifting, inspiring ambience – as waves of synths wash over the listener, giving them a sense of hope that maybe, just maybe, things will be ok.

This is an incredible album, with so many textures and levels of detail that you’ll hear something different every time you listen to it.

Yes, the range of sounds and styles, and the large number of collaborations, does mean that at first, the album doesn’t seem to have an obvious overarching vibe or sound that noticeably links everything together.  NERATERRÆ‘s careful craftsmanship, however, means that with subsequent listens you do get a sense of the whole, as the subtle nuances that connect the 10 tracks begin to come to the fore.

With Scenes From the SublimeNERATERRÆ / Alessio Antoni has done an amazing job of surpassing the high bar he’d set himself with The Substance of Perception, and if you’re a fan of dark ambient you absolutely have to get yourself this album!

Written by Rich Dodgin

 

Additional album information

Produced, mixed and engineered by Alessio Antoni
Mastered by Kjetil Ottersen
Artwork by Anirudh Acharya
Artwork layout by Alessio Antoni

  • The Last Abjurer – Inspired by Zdzislaw Beksinski’s AA72
  • Fate Unveiled – Inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s Visions of the Hereafter
  • In Deafening Silence – Inspired by Ilja Yefimovich Repin’s Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan
  • Thou, Daemon – Inspired by Francisco Goya’s The Exorcism
  • Passion Domain – Inspired by Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog
  • The Unfathomable Lives Again – Inspired by Johann Heinrich Füssli’s The Nightmare
  • Doorway to the I – Inspired by Zdzislaw Beksinski’s AE78
  • The Collapse of Matter and Time – Inspired by Salvador Dalì’s The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory
  • Towards Oneiric Truths – Inspired by Arnold Böcklin’s Isle of the Dead
  • Virtues of the Dawn – Inspired by Joseph Mallord William Turner’s Light and Colour (Goethe’s Theory) • The Morning After the Deluge • Moses Writing the Book of Genesis

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