Tag: SciFi Ambient

False Mirror – SIGINT – Review

Artist: False Mirror
Release date: July 2018
Label: Malignant Records

01. Perimeter
02. Transmission
03. Antenna
04. Trajectory
05. Fallout
06. Corona
07. Leviathan
08. Troposcatter
09. Aether
10. Message

False Mirror is the dark ambient project of Berlin’s Tobias Hornberger. He’s been creating music since 2007’s release of Chronostatic Scenes on dataObscura. But, he really made an impact on the dark ambient world with his third release, Derelict World, in 2010 on Malignant Records. Derelict World consisted of eight highly atmospheric tracks, filled to the brim with field recordings. The album was rounded out with some subtle dronework, but the field recordings really helped to create a dark and abandoned soundscape, which would draw many a dark ambient fan into its grasp.

Now, eight long years after the release of Derelict World, False Mirror has released a new album, SIGINT, again through Malignant Records. For fans of Derelict World, SIGINT will prove to be a relatively different experience. The use of field recordings is still quite heavy, but the album takes a more demanding stance. The dronework is much more pronounced and there is frequent use of choral vocal samples. And, of course, there are still plenty of field recordings throughout the album, helping to keep the visual (perceived) elements at the forefront.

The defining differences between SIGINT and Derelict World begin with the theme. Whereas, Derelict World let listeners gaze into an abandoned world, one that has been slowly decaying, possibly for centuries, the focus of SIGINT is much more technologically driven.

False Mirror is one of the unsung masters of field recording use within the dark ambient community, not only gathering the necessary source material from his fellow colleagues for his own albums, but also sharing his personal collection with other musicians, as in the case of Astral Unity by Phelios, among possible others. (I don’t doubt they exist but I’m unaware of any others.) While the field recordings on Derelict World were mostly of nature (plenty of water running and winds blowing), SIGINT uses much more unusual source material. Sources specifically mentioned in the digipak include: various electronic transmissions, encrypted messages of the German BND and Russian FSB, beacons, over-the-horizon radars, and troposcatter communications. And, like on Derelict World, he has once again acquired source material from Axel Baune, Dieter Trustedt, and Tarek Mansur.

The combination of these field recordings and theme with the previous styles False Mirror has explored creates a very interesting feel, which took me some time to fully grasp. Upon initially reading the album blurb on Malignant Records Bandcamp page, I was assuming this would be some kind of highly synthetic-feeling “spacey” sort of dark ambient, with little personality or emotion. I’m not too keen on the overly sci-fi/space-ambient releases, in general, and didn’t necessarily give SIGINT the attention it deserved in the first few months after the release. Luckily, I returned to the album, and really gave it a few thorough listens and the intricacies, detail, and emotion of the release revealed to me that I was quite mistaken in my first impressions.

The combination of cover-art, track titles, and general feel of the album have all lead me to find a better interpretation of what SIGINT is about. Interestingly, Derelict World was compared to The Canceled Earth by Cities Last Broadcast. But, I find that SIGINT is actually much more in-line with that album’s theme. For me, SIGINT is a window into the remnants of a dying or dead earth. Comparisons could also be made to the 214X series of albums by Sabled Sun, but SIGINT, like The Canceled Earth, focuses more on the atmospherics rather than the cinematics. All these transmissions and signal noises, combined with the drones, sparse piano sections and choral voices, gives us a feeling of reminiscence for a dead civilization. The technical field recordings give us the feeling of those old machines spitting out sounds as the last of their dying battery power fails. The more musical elements add a sorrow to the mix, a true feeling of emotion, which is often not present on sci-fi/space ambient releases, and thusly why I don’t enjoy those sorts of albums so much.

So, the technicalities of the release are all top-notch for me. But, further than this, there are some incredibly memorable tracks presented on SIGINT. This is a feat that wasn’t so well accomplished on Derelict World (maybe it was not intended, that would be fine too). “Corona” reminds me of the feeling I get from “District Delta” by Cisfinitum on their magnificent and highly underrated album, Landschaft. It has a glacially-paced build up, which one barely feels becoming more extreme, until the listener finds themselves fully enraptured by the utter beauty, but also power, which seems to emanate from the track. Likewise, “Troposcatter” manages to dig its talons into the listener’s mind, demanding our attention, but also our emotion, as if it is some sort of final mournful ode to humanity.

Derelict World had a beautiful physical presentation, vivid visual art combined with a mournful story filled the accompanying booklet, and the last few pages were a detailed log of the exact times, locations, and equipment used for creating each track. SIGINT takes a different, but no less impressive direction with its physical presentation. The cover-art is, in a word, spectacular. It doesn’t necessarily convey a stereotypical darkness, little of the album does. Instead it presents us with the remnants of some old scientific/technological facility. We may gaze out, through the torn cloth remnants which blow carelessly in the wind, at a distant horizon, with no signs of other human presence anywhere in between. The booklet is, in fact, a “Cryptographic Manual”, which explains in detail how to decipher an encrypted message. Interestingly, at the end of the booklet, we are told to “EXAMINE TRACK 10”, the track entitled “Message”, which ends the album. Just as I’ve seen in an old review of Derelict World, False Mirror invites listeners to actively take part in experiencing this album, studying this manual should allow the listener to decipher the encrypted message at the end of the album, leading to some hidden secret.

SIGINT is a tour-de-force return to the dark ambient scene for False Mirror. The subtleties of the album are only paralleled by the equally bold and emotionally-driven moments. Even more so than in the past, False Mirror has allowed all elements (drone, field recording, voice sample, etc.) to rise to the surface and hold their own amongst one another. The album is a beautiful soundscape to play in the background while reading, studying, or writing. But, when given full attention, its merits blossom and the listener can become fully enraptured in its depth. False Mirror reminds us, after far too long, why their name has had a lasting impression within the genre, while their output has been anything but frequent. Malignant Records also remind listeners, with this release, why they are one of the forefront labels in the dark ambient genre, even if their dark ambient output is less frequent than some of the other big dark ambient labels. SIGINT is a highly recommended release for any discerning fan of the dark ambient genre.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Ruptured World – Interview

From the first seconds of Exoplanetary, the new Cryo Chamber release by Ruptured World, I knew this was going to be a unique and incredibly entertaining album. I was not wrong. As I found out more about the man behind the project, its breadth and attention to detail became more understandable. I will preface the interview with this “about me” from Rennie’s Amazon page:

Alistair Rennie is author of the weird, sword and debauchery novel, BleakWarrior. He has published weird fantasy and horror fiction, essays and poetry in The New Weird anthology, Weird Tales magazine, Fabulous Whitby, Electric Velocipede, Mythic Delirium, Pevnost, Schlock Magazine, Horror Without Victims, Weird Fiction Review and Shadowed Realms.

He was born and grew up in the North of Scotland, has lived for ten years in Italy, and now lives in Edinburgh in the South of Scotland. He holds a first class Honours Degree in Literature from the University of Aberdeen and a PhD in Literature from the University of Edinburgh. He is a time-served Painter and Decorator and a veteran climber of numerous hills and mountains in the Western Highlands, the Cairngorms and the Italian Dolomites.

Interviewee: Alistair Rennie of Ruptured World
Conducted by: Michael Barnett

Michael Barnett: So, I want to get this stupid question out of the way first! While considering Exoplanetary for review, I felt some connections to The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951), googling it to make sure I had the correct title, I notice the main star is Michael Rennie. Any relation?

Alistair Rennie: That’s a great question! Unfortunately, the answer is no, we’re not related. Though my dad used to claim that we were. There’s a good chance I could be related to the alien Klaatu, however. The true star of the film.

Michael: On that same topic, what were some of the foundational influences on this project? Did you get inspiration from some of those old sci-fi films, like the one aforementioned?

Alistair: Yes, I did, as well as from elsewhere. I think it started off more influenced by 80s classics like Alien and John Carpenter’s The Thing, at least at the stage of writing, and with a strong Lovecraftian influence, too. But, when it came to recording, the older archaic broadcasting style came out in a very spontaneous and natural way, and I liked the way it blended unusually with the more modern electronic soundscapes and drones of the music.
Films like Them, War of the Worlds (also the musical version) and Forbidden Planet, and also the kind of narration you sometimes get in the old Hammer Horror films – they’re definitely in there.

Michael: Before we get into your new album on Cryo Chamber, I thought you could tell us a bit about the writing side of your artistic journey. I am looking forward to reading BleakWarrior, which seems like it will be quite the tale, if the review snippets in your promo are any indication. I will assume the majority of readers here will be aware of your music before your writing. Would you like to tell us a short description of BleakWarrior in your own words?

Alistair: It’s a tricky one to describe because it was very experimental and incorporates a range of influences, including Sword and Sorcery, Manga/Anime, Cyberpunk, Elizabethan Revenge Tragedies, Ancient Greek and Celtic heroic verse, violent westerns, Classical Chinese Literature. It’s an attempt to blend the extremes of pulp and literary elements of fiction and turn them into something that combines sensationalist sex and violence with metaphysics. I tend to describe it as sword and debauchery, though that downplays some of the more philosophical content that might be in there. In some ways, it’s also a study of what happens when we act or exist outside of a moral framework. If I were to summarise it in strictly generic terms, though, I’d call it dark weird fantasy, with significant SF and horror characteristics thrown into the mix.

Michael: Is the world in this book something that you would think dark ambient fans will find interesting?

Alistair: Without wishing to be presumptuous, I think so, yes. There are some very dark elements to the story and its characters. It’s very bleak, as the title suggests. But there’s also some over-the-top mayhem and humour that’s more black metal than dark ambient. There are also parts of the novel that focus on the natural world and ideas relating to the metaphysics of physical nature, which I think is clearly a theme of dark ambient music on a number of levels. You can see that with many of the artists on the Cryo Chamber label.

Michael: Would you like to tell readers a few recommendations in case they are interested in reading your other works?

Alistair: I think dark ambient fans might be interest in what’s been called New Weird fiction and, in particular, in an anthology called the New Weird which features a chapter from what later became BleakWarrior. It’s a ground-breaking anthology in many ways and features writers like Michael Moorcock and Clive Barker, Brian Evenson, Michael Cisco, Jeffrey Ford, Jeffrey Thomas, KJ Bishop – authors who, I think, would be interesting to fans of dark ambient.
In my own case, I have a story that’s coming out later this year in an anthology called Mechanical Animals to be released by Hex Publishers. The story I’ve contributed, called “The Island Brushed By Ghosts”, is set in the northwest of Scotland and deals with subjects pertaining to the nature of existence, as well as nature itself. It’s more cerebral and less frenzied than some of the other stuff I’ve written. If you prefer the mayhem, though, I had a recent story in an anthology called “DOA III” which was released by Blood Bound Books. It’s a sort of surreal slash horror SF far future story. Very dark! But also with elements of humour.

Michael: Which came first, your fiction writing or music production?

Alistair: That’s a very good question in the sense that they kind of evolved together. Music came first in terms of actually creating songs, finished works, as it were. With writing, I started off writing song lyrics and poetry. Fiction, writing stories, came much later, in my late teens, and writing stories that were actually completed and presentable came later still. But I believe that there’s a very close connection between music and writing, which is stating the obvious, really. Often, with writing, you’re striving to find harmony and rhythm, not only in the prose, but in the proportions of the story-telling, the narrative itself, to create a unified organic whole out of something (language) that is essentially chaotic and uncontrolled. Music does that, but with sounds instead of written symbols and utterances. And, of course, language itself is inherently musical.

Michael: How have these two elements been able to come together for you in the Ruptured World project? Did it originate as a story idea, or was it always meant to be this spoken-word blended with dark ambient format from its inception?

Alistair: I think what came first was the idea of using radio transmissions – which I find to be deeply mysterious, an area of activity where the technology and mystical elements of nature come together within the context of sound. I’ve always been fascinated by radio, especially by short wave radio. I remember when I was younger, before there was an internet or even home computers, I used to tune into voices and music from other parts of the world and found it incredibly exciting and amazing to be able to tap into the atmosphere of other countries. It still fascinates me today, even while it has been dramatically superseded by the internet.

Michael: Have you worked in other styles of music, or is Ruptured World your first foray into the musical world?

Alistair: I’ve been involved in music since I was twelve years old. I started off playing in a punk band and later played in an indie band that was fairly well known locally in the north of Scotland. And I also grew up playing folk music, which is not uncommon for musicians from Scotland, where there’s a very strong and innovative folk music scene. But, alongside all this, and right from the start, me and one of my friends had formed our own music project, which is very much the origins of what is now Ruptured World. We were influenced by bands like Bauhaus, the Virgin Prunes, the Cure, the Birthday Party, Japan and David Sylvian. There was just the two of us. We couldn’t find a third band member who shared the same tastes or ideas as us, so we couldn’t do a standard three or four piece thing. So we improvised. I had a Casio keyboard and we had guitars. We used all sorts of other things to generate noise, everything from biscuit tins to crash helmets, often using our voices as sound effects. And we also did spoken word. I still have old recordings on cassettes. More recently, we revived some of our old songs, did new versions of them using the technology of today. It was wonderful. The music is dark, sometimes haunting and melodic, but also low-fi and deliberately crude and primitive in terms of sound and style.

Michael: You performed all the vocal parts on Exoplanetary, and I assume Frontiers of Disorder as well? I, personally, love your vocal performance on these albums. Have you heard things like this in the past that inspired you? Or is this an idea you came up with to combine your loves of music and storytelling?

Alistair: There are definitely precedents for combining narration and music that have no doubt influenced me. There is nothing I can point to directly as an influence in this particular case. But I think War of the Worlds is certainly there, and audio recordings of poetry I’ve listened to over the years. And some of David Sylvian’s music where music and spoken words are combined. I also recall an old album a friend of mine had, one of those Dungeons and Dragons albums they used to produce, where a D&D story is narrated alongside the music. When you hear music and storytelling done together, I think it’s a very natural combination and, indeed, one that occurs every time we watch visual narratives realised in film. We forget that film is also an audio as well as a visual medium. I suppose, in many ways, that’s what Exoplanetary aims to be – a narrative and soundtrack conceived as a film but rendered and delivered through the medium of sound only.

Michael: Will you be continuing to work in this format on future releases?

Alistair: Yes, I think that’s a certainty. It’s a fascinating and extremely enjoyable challenge to integrate the musical and spoken word elements together. And trying to find ways of delivering the spoken narration, and do so effectively, is an extremely enjoyable if often difficult thing to aim for. And, being a writer, for me it’s just the obvious and natural thing to do, I think.

Michael: On the technical side, do you prefer working with digital soundscapes or do you incorporate modular synths or other such equipment into the mix?

Alistair: I tend to work principally with digital soundscapes combined with live materials gained from different sources and approaches, often through sampling where I take live recordings of instruments or objects and sounds derived from various places, and using them all as part of the digital tableaux. I have a very experimental approach, often unconventional, which is also true of my writing, and I try to explore those areas which are off-piste, as it were.
One approach I’m seeking to develop now derives from an interest I have in ideas relating to the “genius loci” or spirit of place. This is a literary term that, among other things, refers to the specific conditions or essence of a particular place or geographic location. I’m looking to do live recordings in specific locations using instruments and devices channeled and amplified through conventional hardware, then integrated into the soundscape of the purely digital environment. So, it’s trying to take the essence and evocation of a particular place and preserve it in the alternative digital universe, as it were. Not an easy thing, but something to aim for!

Michael: If you used many field recordings on Exoplanetary, what was the process like capturing these sounds? Were you able to work with some sound banks or did you take field recording expeditions?

Alistair: I use only field recordings, precisely for the reasons given above. It’s the fascination of the specificity of the sound and the particular place or conditions in which it was conceived and recorded. The active participation in the process from start to finish has a strong fascination for me. Not that I don’t think sound banks are useful. They are a valuable and viable resource. And, for me, the rule is to use anything and everything that works for the creation of the sound or music, so a certain magpie instinct is necessary for gathering sounds and adapting them to the creative process. But, in my own case, the fascination requires me to follow the goal of capturing a unique essence and trying to integrate it into the overall composition. I suppose that might sound somewhat airy fairy! But I think anything that injects your music with an additional sense of purpose is worth pursuing. It will ultimately lead to better results in being driven by the conviction of an established methodology.

Michael: You’ve mentioned previously that you are an avid climber, it seems you’ve reached the summit of a good number of mountains around the world. Do you have a particular love of nature or is this more a physical drive for you? Do you think these excursions in nature lead to a deeper understanding of this dark ambient genre?

Alistair: The love of nature I think is the overriding passion, but I also relish the physical contact with the natural world and the physical effort it requires of you. Walking in mountains, in heightened terrain that changes your visual perspective of the world, is exhilarating for all sorts of reasons. You see the world, quite literally, in a different way, in the way it actually is. You see how the contours lie, how the habitable spaces are often actually small pockets or strips of land surrounded by hostile terrain. The close contact with weather conditions is always a great source of inspiration for me, and also the fear you feel when you’re faced with raw nature.
And I think these are facets of our experience which are very much at the heart of the dark ambient coterie of themes. Importantly, dark ambient doesn’t deal solely with the beauty and spiritual amplitude of nature, which are ably and admirably covered by many artists in the ambient and new age genres, for example. Dark ambient has a preoccupation with the more menacing aspects of nature, with its innate power and mysterious forces which, while crudely scientific, are nevertheless suggestive of something greater. And I think this is where we receive a sense of awe that causes us to look on nature with a primitive response we cannot summarise in words. Hence, we resort to music and sounds as a means of expressing it, which is very much the territory of dark ambient.

Dark ambient has a preoccupation with the more menacing aspects of nature, with its innate power and mysterious forces which, while crudely scientific, are nevertheless suggestive of something greater.

You find in old mythologies that humans, when confronted by gods, must shield their eyes because, if they don’t, they will be driven mad by the beauty and terror of the deity they look upon. I think dark ambient is a form of music that dares to look upon the gods and seeks to reiterate what it sees through the language of sounds.

Michael: What would be your dream project? If you could secure funding for any sort of project?

Alistair: It would have to be something that combined music with landscape. The Austrian musician, Manu Delago, recently led an expedition of 7 musicians into the Alps where they recorded music to be made into an album and film, called Parasol Peak. They recorded songs acoustically as they ascended through the various stages of their journey, and the results are incredible. So, doing something similar, but using electronic means of music production, would definitely be a dream project for me. And, to be honest, I don’t think it would require a huge amount of funds, so I may well go for it sometime soon! The problem would obviously be the need to generate power for electronic devices, but I’m sure there’d be a way.
Musician Paul Winter did a similar thing when he recorded music for an album in the Grand Canyon back in the 1980s. He and his musicians rafted down the river to find a spot to record music that would capture the echo generated by the canyon walls. Again, I would like to undertake a similar expedition with the objective of creating an electronic dark ambient extravaganza!

Michael: I’ll end on a bright note, how do you imagine Earth to look 100 years from now?

Alistair: Rain, rain, nothing but rain. Lots of gloom. No sunlight. Humans will evolve into vampires. A bit like Scotland during the summer, really.

Michael: Thank you very much for your time Alistair, I’ll leave the last words to you!

Alistair: Thank you, Michael! It’s been great to be in This Is Darkness. I very much wish you and your readership a prodigious abundance of lasting wellness!

Alistair Rennie’s Links

Ruptured World
: Official Website, Facebook,
Bandcamp (Exoplanetary)Bandcamp (Frontiers of Disorder)

Alistair Rennie’s Publications
: Official Website

Ruptured World – Exoplanetary – Review

Artist: Ruptured World
Album: Exoplanetary
Release date: 7 August 2018
Label: Cryo Chamber

01. The Bright Communion of Primal Energies
02. The Sunken Valleys
03. Future Cries of No Tomorrow
04. The Twilight Hours
05. A Time Without Saviours
06. The Shimmering After-Blasts of Psionic Traces
07. The Voyage of Tarknassus
08. Closing Theme

Exoplanetary follows the story of a scientifically based exploration of the planet Proxima Centauri B. Ruptured World is a sci-fi cinematic dark ambient release created by weird fantasy and horror fiction author Alistair Rennie. Exoplanetary takes Rennie’s knack for writing fiction into new territory, giving us something that feels familiar, and yet new. Most tracks feature spoken-word, which is all performed by Rennie himself. Along with the booklet, this gives the album a lot of material for listeners to absorb, making multiple listens a must. Thankfully those multiple listens have been equally as enjoyable as the first.

The mission plan refers to “select members of the human species”, leading me to wonder about the class warfare that must be happening simultaneously (though this theme is not explored on Exoplanetary). As the 99.9% realize that they are going no where, and Earth will soon double as their grave marker, drifting through infinite space.

On “The Sunken Valleys”, Rennie speaks in his sort of 50s sci-fi movie style voice, explaining the characteristics of the landscape. But, there is even further detail committed to this topic in the 16 page “Executive Mission Summary” booklet, which accompanies both the digital and physical versions of Exoplanetary.

“The Twilight Hours” begins by explaining a bit about the Krivren species, which appears to be a deadly, intelligent race of creatures that populate Proxima Centauri B. Again, here, the booklet goes into even greater detail about this alien race, giving us enough information to start forming images of these creatures in our minds, as well as hearing their communications throughout the track. “A Time Without Saviours” picks back up on this dialogue, this time going into more detail about the routines and actions of this race, and their possible understanding of humanity’s arrival.

“A Time Without Saviours” is likely my favorite track on the album. It slowly builds until we hear some dialogue I mentioned above, then the track turns musical, allowing a slow almost glitchy melody to become the new focus for the remainder of the track. This section is highly evocative of some of my favorite Sabled Sun melodic sections. In fact, probably my favorite thing about this album, as a whole, is its similarities to the Sabled Sun 21XX series. But, here we are more focused on conveying the story through actual dialogue and through the accompanying booklet. Whereas with Sabled Sun there is much more left to the imagination, in terms of specific greater plot details, and the focus is instead on real-time soundscape cinematics (i.e. electronics bleeping, footsteps, doors opening). I wouldn’t commit to liking one or the other style better. I think it’s great to see these themes covered from varied angles.

“The Voyage of Tarknassus” brings together all the elements of Exoplanetary in a concise fashion. We hear a radio tuning into a station, finding a beautiful piano arrangement. This soon shifts to a transmission of the voice of Dr. Hector Macrae, which eventually trails off into a slow droning section. This seems to give listeners time to contemplate the words we’ve just heard and the greater plot of the album, going on for eleven minutes as the longest track. Exoplanetary ends on peaceful note, being another of the more musical tracks. A number of different elements come together here, built upon a peaceful drone and a prominent bass line.

Cryo Chamber continues making their bold moves into varying fringes of the dark ambient genre. Yet again, it seems they’ve made a successful gamble, bringing an artist into the fray with some highly detailed visions for his work. Alongside Simon Heath, this is likely to be a highly fruitful endeavor in the future, just as we’ve already seen here on Exoplanetary, as well as in similar circumstances with God Body Disconnect. Ruptured World must be the best project I could recommend for lovers of Sabled Sun and other cinematic sci-fi ambient releases. There is a little here of everything that makes that sub-genre so compelling. The beautiful cover-art, booklet and layout of Exoplanetary make it all the more attractive. I wouldn’t recommend this as background music, there are plenty of dark ambient albums out there that will blend nicely into your evening. Ruptured World asks more of their listeners, but the reward is worth the effort. Highly Recommended!

Written by: Michael Barnett

Black Wanderer – Hostile Territory – Review

Artist: Black Wanderer
Album: Hostile Territory
Release date: 1 May 2017
Label: Ksenza Records

01. What Appears To Be Normal
02. Station4
03. Hide Inside An Imitation
04. Our Superior In Every Way
05. Nothing Can Stop Us
06. Freedom To Act Irresponsibly
07. Such Power Exists
08. Планета Бурь

Black Wanderer is the newest musical venture by Daniil Kazantsev of Algol and Stuzha. Each of his three projects deliver a totally different form of music, all fitting within an ambient framework but each having its own template of execution. Algol is a space ambient experience, with a style similar to that of Sphare Sechs. Stuzha is a chilly dark ambient sound drawing comparisons to the likes of Ugasanie and Northaunt. Black Wanderer is a dark cinematic ambient project which includes many samples from films to build a set of narratives upon a guitar/bass heavy form of dark ambient.

The basics of Black Wanderer are quite stripped down. There is little in the way of field recordings or synth-crafted drones. The bass guitar provides a basis for the project. The electric guitar adds a brighter set of textures. While these two instruments provide the droning elements there is a heavy usage of film samples. The instruments are not used in a technically complicated manner. They often deliver sustained single notes. The bass guitar builds a thick and atmospheric foundation for many of the tracks. Meanwhile, the electric guitar often picks higher pitched single notes, giving the necessary emotional charge to the mix.

Hostile Territory focuses on several films in particular to provide the narrative. The Thing is heavily sampled on the Black Wanderer album, a film which by most accounts is a classic in the horror/sci-fi genre. Focusing on a maleficent life form which crash lands deep in Antarctica, The Thing spreads from person to person, fully mimicking its hosts. On “What Appears To Be Normal” Black Wanderer uses a clip in which the doctor first realizes that the thing is capable of mimicking humanity. The track is complemented with some sort of horn to add a bit of character to the narrative.

Again on “Hide Inside and Imitation”, we hear another clip from The Thing. Kurt Russell is sitting in his bedchamber, taking notes about their current circumstances on an audio recorder. “…nobody trusts anybody, and we’re all very tired.” is recorded, just before being erased. The quote adds a deep sense of tension to the track. The gently shifting drone-work is again complemented by a lonely guitar, using single notes to add suspense to the atmospherics.

On “Freedom to Act Irresponsibly”, Black Wanderer uses sound clips from the film The Day The Earth Stood Still. Documenting a conversation between an American official and an alien life form, Black Wanderer produces a chilling effect on the listener. The conversation plays with the idea that mankind would never be able to come together in unison to decide upon a coordinated response to the coming invasion. While its an interesting conversation, the general feelings that it invokes in the listener allow it to become a contemplative experience. The electric guitars and bass work in unison here create interesting textures which lend themselves to a thought provoking atmosphere. They give listeners ample room for mulling over their own interpretations of the sound clips. “Freedom to Act Irresponsibly” seems to be a bitter more doom-laden than the previous tracks. It suggests that mankind would never be able to work together, and that these alien lifeforms would most likely remove our human race from existence.

The use of so many audio clips from films makes Hostile Territory a more demanding listen than we are used to from Algol or Stuzha. As a stand-alone album, it becomes a more thought provoking experience. Especially for fans of these old films, there will be a lot of nostalgic value. For listeners that are not familiar with these classics, there is sure to be a good deal of interest taken in the subject matter.

For fans not interested in active listening, preferring a passive ambient sound to complement their reading, studying or gaming, there will be a bit less interest. The other projects Algol and Stuzha are more in line with this passivity and either is a perfect pairing to study. As Daniil Kazantsev already had two projects with this general focus, it makes sense that he wanted to move outside that template and make an album with different goals and procedures.

Hostile Territory is a welcome addition to an already impressive catalog from this artist. It provides us with a totally fresh set of ideas from its creator. There are likely many more directions that Black Wanderer can be taken in the future. The focus on these older alien-influenced sci-fi films doesn’t necessarily have to stay as the primary subject matter for Black Wanderer to keep its template and hold the attention of listeners. While technically it isn’t quite as innovative as the latest Stuzha album, it still holds a great deal of emotion and interesting content. With three musical projects, Black Wanderer being by far the newest, it seems reasonable that Kazantsev will continue to evolve as Black Wanderer and further hone his skills on this project.

Written by: Michael Barnett

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