Artist: Taphephobia & Kave
Album: Monuments
Release date: 10 April 2018
Label: Cyclic Law

01. Taphephobia – Entwined with the Dark
02. Kave – Doldrumin

Taphephobia is Ketil Søraker from Trondheim, Norway. His project has been active since his 2007 debut, House of Memories, which has just seen a re-release on Reverse Alignment. Before this time, Søraker was the second member of Northaunt. Søraker made his Cyclic Law debut in 2013 with Escape From The Mundane Self, an album which showed a honing of his style and was lauded by the general dark ambient community. Simultaneous with the release of this split, the latest full length by Taphephobia, Ghostwood, is also available.

Kave is a musical project by Bram Gollin of the Netherlands. My first experience with the project was his 2015 release on Cyclic Law, Ominousium. But, before this, Kave had already released a full length, Dismal Radiance, on Eibon Records and self-released the EP, The Language of Stones. On all these releases, Kave delivers a reserved style of dark ambient. One that evokes long lonely nights, walks through the vacant streets of some northern town, or through the coniferous forest, on its edge.

Monuments takes both artists into a territory that seems to be incredibly fitting for their styles of sound, contributing tracks which roughly run 20 minutes each. This gives the reserved styles of both artists time to fully evolve into something beautiful. Taking the cover art and album title into consideration, the theme feels to me as if it is describing humanity as monuments among the barren landscapes of the past, and likely the future. Or, from a different perspective, a single human, standing atop a beautiful vista gazing at the world beneath, both wishing to be a part of it, and content in solitude, at one with nature.

From a technical perspective, the opener, “Entwined with the Dark” by Taphephobia is a bit more dynamic in approach. Starting at a gentle whisper, the track gradually expands in density and volume, reaching an apex shortly before its close. Taphephobia incorporates guitar drone in a style that will be familiar to his loyal followers. Toward the end of the track there are some softly spoken vocals, adding a warm, human element to the otherwise frigid and barren soundscapes. On “Doldrumin”, Kave also uses a gradual build up, but his reaches its mid range sooner, and allows for a more ritualistic sort of experience, in comparison to the emotional edge on Søraker’s piece. As “Doldrumin” reaches its final minutes, the sound of beautiful choral chanting lulls the listener into a total trance, bringing the album to a triumphant and elegant close.

I don’t usually cover many split releases, and I can’t think of a previous Cyclic Law split. But, Monuments really does work out well. It genuinely feels like two pieces of a whole. Two sides to a similar set of emotions or ideas. The length seemed to work out great for both artists, but I particularly was impressed with the work by Kave. Though I should add, I’m always pleased to hear new works by Taphephobia. But for me, this has become a given. So, it was nice to also find the second half of the release as appealing as the first. I would recommend Monuments to listeners that like more relaxing, laid-back dark ambient releases. This is not going to keep the full attention of the ADHD stricken for a full 40 minutes. But for those of us who enjoy a nice dose of subtelty, this is the perfect companion to your night in solitude.

Written by: Michael Barnett