Month: May 2018

Noir – A Dark Jazz Mix Pt.2

This is the second part to the Noir – Dark Jazz mix.

On this mix we dive deeper into a blend of dark jazz, dark ambient, and other urban smoky club music. This one will be a bit more active than the first, diverging a bit further from the dark ambient elements. Again, this one deserves a glass of Scotch and your finest smoke. For late, contemplative summer evenings, in the privacy of your home or aimlessly wandering your nearest metropolis. You can find links to the albums featured below the Mixcloud player. Enjoy!
You can check out the first half here.

01. 0:00:00 Michael Arthur Holloway – Dead Weight
02. 0:05:55 Bebopovsky and the Orkestry Podyezdov
03. 0:09:55 Atrium Carceri, Cities Last Broadcast & God Body Disconnect – Miles To Midnight
04. 0:15:40 The Orchestra of Mirrored Reflections – Dissociative Fugue
05. 0:22:05 The Sarto Klyn V – A Rumour
06. 0:29:30 Elegi – Full Av Tomhet
07. 0:32:30 Bohren & der Club of Gore – Im Rauch
08. 0:37:45 Jon Hassell – Estaté (“Summer”)
09. 0:42:30 Detour Doom Project – Nightfall
10. 0:47:15 Wordclock – Where Mercy Lives
11. 0:50:45 Somewhere Off Jazz Street – Rest Your Head
12. 0:56:00 Michael Arthur Holloway – Short Change
13. 1:01:15 Atrium Carceri, Cities Last Broadcast & God Body Disconnect – The Sleep Ensemble
14. 1:06:30 L’Assassinat – Train To Lepell’s
15. 1:11:00 Gamardah Fungus – Too Much Crime In The Paradise

Sonologyst – Apocalypse – Review

Artist: Sonologyst
Album: Apocalypse
Release date: 15 September 2017
Label: Eighth Tower Records

01. Hypnosis
02. Sulphurous rain
03. Abandoned city
04. Stay in your homes!
05. Global threat
06. Dying Oceans
07. System collapse
08. Towers of sand
09. Prayers from nowhere

In a few short years, Sonologyst has managed to place himself in the collective consciousness of many that follow the dark ambient as well as experimental ambient genres. Raffaele Pezzella of Napoli, Italia, got his musical career up and running in 2011 with his proper debut, Ipotesi del continuo. He used the momentum from this to secure follow-up releases through labels such as: Petroglyph Music, Gravity’s Rainbow Tapes, Attenuation Circuit, and Cold Spring Records over the next few years. Meanwhile, his own label, Unexplained Sounds Group (USG), began to take shape and started a progressive release schedule which is still keeping its momentum. Then, in 2017, Pezzella started a sub-label of USG, named Eighth Tower Records.

Eighth Tower Records is where the career of Pezzella truly makes its collision with This Is Darkness. While experimental ambient releases are certainly fair game for us, specifically dark themed experimental (though thus-far less experimental than much of the material on USG) ambient releases are even more in line with our preferred sound palette. While about half of their releases so far have been compilations (with some great talent always involved, though not always with exclusive tracks), the other half focuses on some great up & coming or under-the-radar talent, including: Aseptic Void, Urs Wild and Hezaliel, to name a few.

Apocalypse is the most recent release by Sonologyst, on Eighth Tower Records. This album focuses on the apocalypse, not necessarily through any single event, but through snippets of events, landscapes through soundscape, and mental states. I will say, immediately, this album feels less experimental and more in line with the range of sounds we would hear on a more traditional dark ambient release. There are, however, moments throughout the album where Pezzella’s fondness for the experimental certainly still shines through. When it does, it has a stronger and more benign effect on me than would otherwise be the case.

I’ve been considering Apocalypse for a good while. Since it’s release, it’s been in steady rotation here. What started as my favorite release yet by Sonologyst, has turned into one of my favorite releases of 2017. So many tracks on this album are quite memorable and are able to evoke a great deal of emotion from the listener, as we are taken along on the ride through this apocalyptic soundscape. Tracks like “Sulphurous rain” and “Dying oceans” are incredibly relaxing, minimal in design, but incredibly rich in emotion. Particularly on “Dying oceans” there is a sound, that may or may not be a dolphin, which seems to be crying out in abject terror, as the oceans of Earth lose their last life sustaining properties, a mass extinction of their inhabitants.

“Hypnosis” is another favorite for me on Apocalypse. It sounds much like something that would be released through the ritual ambient label, Aural Hypnox. A gentle and relaxing loop runs throughout the track. A calm male voice, echoed by a female counterpart, repeats a phrase throughout “Hypnosis”. Topping off the track is a high pitched frequency which lingers atop the mix, making slight shifts. The combination of all these elements is a wonderfully hypnotic track. Starting the album in this way is quite clever, as it seeks to pull the listener into its trance, before the full experience can properly begin.

Then there are a few tracks, like “Stay in your homes!” and “Global Threat”, that incorporate snippets of sound from old films which focused on these end-time themes. All these elements from the different tracks together form an ebb and flow throughout the album, giving the listener all the right cues and periods of time to contemplate the greater experience, to meditate on our own versions of these stories.

Apocalypse is my favorite Sonologyst release to date, no question. This album was crafted using all the same principles and techniques that I am looking for in a well-rounded dark ambient album. The themes, flow, and technical prowess are all working in coordination toward the perfect end-product. I would recommend Apocalypse to any fans of experimental ambient, but also to fans of the more common forms of contemporary dark ambient. Apocalypse really does have a little something here for everyone across the spectrum and it’s presented in a way that shouldn’t alienate those who may like one element here less than the others. Though there are only a few years of releases behind Sonologyst, he again proves why he’s been taken so seriously in this scene of music that can often eat musicians alive, without ever a word of explanation.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Further reading:
Raffaele Pezzella recently contributed his knowledge of music studios to our massive article Dark Ambient 101, you can check it out here.

Melankolia – Vividarium Intervigilium Viator – Review

Artist: Melankolia
Album: Vividarium Intervigilium Viator
Release date: 12 December 2017
Label: Hypnotic Dirge Records

01. Ambrosia
02. Nyctophilia
03. The Crowning of Autumn
04. Between Heaven and Hell
05. In the Garden Sleeps a Messenger
06. Wellspring Labyrinth (Left Hand ’til Mourning)
07. Requiem
08. Melankolia
09. The Murmur (Succour Midst Sorrow)
10. Annie, Light in a Dying World

Melankolia is the dark ambient / neo-classical project of Mike O’Brien, also known for his work as Appalachian Winter, Veiled Monk and Ritual in Ash. Since the founding of his project in 2009, O’Brien has released three full length album, the last of which, III, came out in 2012 on Quartier23. Melankolia, true to the name, seeks to engulf the listener in a melancholic atmosphere. The strongest, most consistent tool in his repertoire is the piano. Often just a little field recordings and piano work is all that is needed for Melankolia to create a dark, lonely sort of atmosphere.

On their fourth release, Vividarium Intervigilium Viator, Melankolia paid painstaking attention to detail, allowing the creation process to run several years longer than on any of their previous releases. The album was picked up by Hypnotic Dirge Records, a label that specializes in a variety of music, which they call “An auditory palette for the estranged and eclectic”. Unlike on previous releases, Vividarium Intervigilium Viator is completely done by O’Brien himself, with no guest musicians.

Vividarium Intervigilium Viator is a diverse release. There are a number of different styles of music and mood being created here. These albums take a bit more consideration than the standard dark ambient fare, thus I’m reviewing this one six months after release, though I have been enjoying it since December. What makes this release hard to describe for a reviewer, ironically, should be just what would make listeners enjoy it. Tracks like “In the Garden Sleeps a Messenger” have sections that sound like they came right off something like Prospectus I by raison d’etre. Then, moments later on “Wellspring Labyrinth (Left Hand ’til Mourning)”, we hear an intricate texture of darker background soundscape, while synth, piano and choral voices give the track a more fantastical, ethereal feel. Then, on “The Murmur (Succour Midst Sorrow), Melankolia starts with a billowing wind and a guitar, before the piano takes over and O’Brien begins to recite an interesting passage, I assume of his own creation, which talks of the woes and disappointments of human existence.

In all these different sorts of tracks, Melankolia keeps the theme and mood directed consistently toward his goals. The heavy use of field recordings throughout the album adds greatly to its contemplative, melancholic nature. The piano parts all hold an emotional edge, and are reasonably diverse, in opposition to so much of the neo-classical styled dark ambient we hear which incorporates the piano, but not in any skillful or complex sense, often allowing several notes to repeat throughout, never using any actual scales or chord progressions. Not that most of that is bad, I enjoy many of these sorts of tracks, but it feels more authentic with Melankolia than with many of the other examples I’ve heard over the years.

This music is perfect for long lonely nights, sitting by the window reading, watching as the seasons pass, time slipping irretrievably through our fingers. The name Melankolia really tells the tale of this artist’s style. He treads that ground between dark and “regular” ambient very lightly. The album evokes a sadness, but of an indirect variety. We aren’t left imagining lost childhoods or ended relationships. We are not given such a direct sensory nudge. Instead the music leaves me feeling  almost content in my solitude. It is that sort of calm darkness that one finds when all is pitch black, but a single burning candle or night-light. A sense that all the surrounding woes and hardships are fleeting, as are our own fragile lives.

I would highly recommend this release to anyone into the neo-classical side of the dark ambient spectrum. There will be quite active moments throughout the album, but they rarely if ever disrupted me when I am focusing on some other task. The heavy use of field recordings makes this a true pleasure as well, really adding a depth to the sounds of your environment, and their emotional pull on you. Hypnotic Dirge Records released the album in a beautiful 4 panel digipak with an eight page booklet of photography and thought provoking written passages. O’Brien really put together a polish gem with this one. We should definitely be keeping our eyes and ears open for whatever is to come next!

Written by: Michael Barnett

Visions & Phurpa – Monad – Review

Artist: Visions & Phurpa
Album: Monad
Release date: 25 April 2018
Label: Cyclic Law

01. Ascendance
02. Fohat
03. Monad
04. Reminiscense

Visions and Phurpa have come together for a project I was not at all expecting! The two veteran producers behind these projects bring together two very different styles for something that sounds perfectly natural to both of them. Monad is a ritual ambient release, with a heavy dose of thick spacious drones. Phurpa provides the throat singing, which is immediately and most obvious at the opening of “Ascendance”, as well as incorporating sounds from their large collection of ritual bells, chimes, etc. Visions provides, what I assume to be, the rest of the soundscapes, including drone-work and the final mix and mastering.

Live at Phobos IX Festival, March 10 2018
Visuals by Karl Lemieux

Visions is the most active musical project of Frédéric Arbour, the man behind the Cyclic Law record label, one of the most revered labels in the dark ambient genre. Monad is the third release from Visions, who released their debut Lapse on Cyclic Law in 2005. After the 2010 sophomore release, Summoning the Void, Frédéric Arbour put the Visions project on hold indefinitely. During this time, among other things, Arbour moved his studio space and the whole Cyclic Law headquarters from Canada to Berlin, all the while keeping the label moving forward. So, the delay in output is certainly warranted.

Phurpa – Photo by: Elena Pinaeva

Phurpa is a much more enigmatic project. Phurpa was founded and led by Alexei Tegin, but also includes a number of other active members which often vary from performance to performance. Phurpa was founded with the idea of using Tegin’s knowledge of and dedication to the spiritual traditions of Bon and Dzogchen as a compass in the creation of their rituals. Phurpa use the Tibetan gyukye style of tantric overtone singing/chanting to create the foundation of their music. They add to this a variety of Tibetan ritual instruments, which again vary from album to album.

I’ve been following Phurpa for some years now, and heard a good many of their albums. But, I had yet to actually review one. Their music generally falls into a ritual ambient space that, I would say, is quite outside the realms of your usual dark ambient album. Though, the fan-bases of these types of music are so over-lapping that it makes sense to release their music on labels that are predominately dark ambient. I knew immediately on hearing the opening seconds of Monad that this release was different. “Ascendence” starts with the customary throat singing style of Phurpa, but within seconds a wall of dark ambient sound starts to form behind the vocals, and then intertwining with them, forming a dense yet earthly drone. The Tibetan ritual instruments begin to fall into place in the background. All this together evokes a deep primordial connection between the listener and the soundscapes.

“Fohat” takes us further into this hypnotic mélange of the ritual and the electronic. But, the drones here take on a more hollow, airy vibe, and the vocals become more submerged in the dronework. As the track progresses, everything seems to take focus, comes to a sort of crescendo, a moment of elightenment for the listener. At this point, I can’t help but feel that this track is going into territory that is similar to some of the very best works by raison d’etre. The technical prowess of Visions matched with the cosmic energy of Phurpa takes this particular sort of sacral/ritual ambient to truly impressive heights. I, also, can’t help but feel that their hearts are absolutely behind every second of this.

Starting Side B, “Monad” is a much more reserved and contemplative track than what we saw on either of the opening tracks. The drones and vocals are both calm, soothing, and again blend together impressively well, often leaving me forgetting that I’m hearing two totally different forms of “drone” at play. “Reminiscense” is more dynamic, but still incredibly calm, leaving this whole second half as perfect for background during meditation, study, etc.

Monad is the 100th Cycle on Cyclic Law. A true milestone for any label. Especially for Cyclic Law, to look back over these releases, there are so many gems of the genre here. Albums that were turning points for sub-sections of the genre, albums that have stood the test of time. If Monad is any indication of what we can expect for the next 100 Cycles, we are in for another great ride! Arbour decided on a vinyl option for this release, which works great, as the cover art is really fantastic and looks even better in the larger size, and the track lengths make for a good fit, not leaving a ton of dead space at the end of both sides. I would highly recommend this release to fans of ritual ambient, but the work by Visions done here totally warrants a listen for fans of the more traditional types of dark ambient. In the end, I could call this as much of a dark ambient release as ritual ambient. A must-hear regardless!

Written by: Michael Barnett

Teahouse Radio / Hypnagoga Press – Interview

Over the last few years we’ve seen a huge increase in the output of Pär Boström. Once known only for his oldest (main?) project, Kammarheit, Pär Boström has since created a multitude of wonderful albums, always more or less focused on dark ambient, as Cities Last Broadcast, Altarmang, Bonini Bulga, and now his latest project Teahouse Radio. Near the beginning of this recent bloom in releases, he partnered up with his sister, Åsa Boström, to start the publishing house/record label Hypnagoga Press, as well as collaborate on their first release as Hymnambulae. After my previous interview with them in 2016, not long before I started This Is Darkness, I thought it was time to catch up with the siblings and find out from Pär about the new Teahouse Radio album, and to get some general clairvoyance on the label and future releases from Åsa. Enjoy with a cup of your favorite tea and be sure to check out the new Teahouse Radio album, which you can stream in full below.

Interview with: Pär & Åsa Boström

Conducted by: Michael Barnett

You can also read our review of the Teahouse Radio debut here.

Michael: Teahouse Radio is your latest project to be released through Hypnagoga Press. Since, over the last few years you have been working on a growing number of projects, I wonder if you could tell readers what makes Teahouse Radio unique for you? How does it stand apart from your other endeavors?

PärOne intention we have with Hypnagoga Press, is creating a house encompassing all our projects. Even the ones that have been or are still brewing in the background. For one and a half decades, Teahouse Radio has served as a counter-point during a difficult psychiatric evaluation and treatment. It took me this long to decide to finally share the music. What makes it unique, for me, is how it managed to keep its roots in the children’s books I read, as a kid. A sort of honesty and naïveté that resonates well with me. Things like Narnia, Winnie the Pooh and the Moomin books have been a big inspiration for this project. There is something in those books that connects to my own early encounters with melancholia and existential questions. I don’t really have the words for it, only the music. Some would say it’s not as dark sounding as my other projects, but I would say it has some of that as well. But more than anything, it has a different form of melancholia and dreaminess.

Michael: How long have you had the idea to work on a Teahouse Radio album?

Pär: The oldest songs on this album are from 2004, maybe a bit earlier than that. But, I can’t recall exactly when and how it started. One day it was there. A new friend you feel like you’ve known forever. I don’t know if I had the intention, initially, to publish an album. All my projects start this way. Something personal, a place to visit for as long as I need. Somewhere along the way, I invite people to take part in it. Then, the music sets out on an adventure of its own, becoming a part of other peoples lives, as well.

Michael: Can you tell us a bit about the process behind creating the Teahouse Radio debut, Her Quiet Garden?

PärIn 2016, I stayed in my sister Åsa’s old summer house and guest studio. My intention was to make an album, using a semi-acoustic guitar and a few effect pedals. I often do this, bring equipment with me somewhere secluded. It was supposed to be a singer-songwriter thing. Early on, I noticed that what I was making was similar to what I had already been recording as Teahouse Radio, years before. I had a notebook with me to jot down technical details about chord progression, lyrics, etc. Instead, immediately it turned into a studio diary, with reflections on what I was making. I wrote about my cat Kosmos who had passed away three years earlier, picturing her in this peaceful, dreamy garden. As I was sitting in the rocking chair listening to the new recordings, I wrote about the weather, the bumblebees and about loss, in general. About mental illness. Somewhere in those notes, the album began to emerge. Half of the songs had been recorded sporadically since 2004. The rest were created during a few days late that summer, in that idyllic countryside setting.

Michael: Hypnagoga Press, the label run by Åsa and yourself, has focused on releasing music by your various projects. Of course, some of these projects are your solo efforts, but others have been collaborations, for example: the Hymnambulae or Altarmang debuts are collaborations with Åsa Boström and Kenneth Hansson, respectively. The new Teahouse Radio album looks to be more of a solo project, in line with Bonini Bulga or Kammarheit. Was this, in fact, a solo project, or did you collaborate with any other artists on this one?

PärTeahouse Radio is initially a solo project, but I would like to select a few collaborators further down the road. The songs on Her Quiet Garden were sent to Simon Heath, who added a few extra touches on some of the songs and mastered the whole album. I am very grateful for the way he made the old and new material blend together.

Michael: Is there any specific importance behind the names Teahouse Radio and Her Quiet Garden?

PärThere was a tiny wooden house, an elk tower, in a field outside the city where I lived during high school. Due to my insomnia at the time, I sometimes bicycled there, and had a cup of tea while trying to find radio stations on a small radio I insisted on carrying with me. When deciding on names for this project, that memory came back and Teahouse Radio felt like a suitable name. As the first album is centered around loss, my deceased cat Kosmos became the main symbol. To imagine a garden for her. A calm, quiet garden.

Michael: You’ve given followers some hints about this release, over the last year or so. Was the process behind its creation similar to other albums? Meaning, do you usually use journals in this way, capturing your ideas for later translation into music?

Pär: I don’t think I’ve shared anything from my journal entries before. Not translated and shared almost in full like we did in The Solar Zine Vol.3. I often write about my music, looking closely for clues on how to best proceed with what I’m working on. Most studio notes are about changes I want to make and title ideas. But, this notebook went further. I will experiment with this on future albums, as well. To my defense I want to add, that when combining a rocking chair, a loop pedal and a summer house with a beautiful lake and garden view, there will be some thoughts running through your head. Dramatic weather only further added to the mood.

Michael: The album art for this release has an incredibly unique and surreal feel. What is the importance of this image and how was it created to have such a unique look?

PärI am constantly drawing. Strange animals, trees, figures interacting with each other or dealing with sleep in different ways. It has been like this for almost two decades. I decided early on, that Teahouse Radio should try to fill a gap between my music and these drawings. So, for Her Quiet Garden I made a lot of different paper landscapes with trees and a pond. I tried all kinds of papers to make it look like water and other transparent papers to get a fog like effect. Not many of the photos I took were used for the final artwork, but I will continue with these kinds of images in the future.

Michael: Will Teahouse Radio remain an active project after this release?

Pär: That’s my intention. The illness, the need to take a break from the world, to dream and drift, will likely never change. And there will always be the need to make music for weather and cats. Aural tales.

Michael: What does the future hold for Teahouse Radio? Do you intend to do any live performances as this project, or will it remain a studio entity.

PärFor now, I wish to remain in my studio for quite some time, before doing live performances again, with any project. I’m happy to be able to create now. I’ve had long periods of inactivity before, or have felt a big need for distance and avoidance, so I want to make sure I’m making the most of this moment. As I said earlier, I hope to collaborate with different musicians in the future. Hopefully animators and paper landscape artists, as well. Her Quiet Garden is merely the introduction.

Michael: Is there any interesting news happening with any of your other projects, currently? I’m sure you have a lot going on, but anything you are willing to share?

PärA new Kammarheit album is completed, but it might still be some time before it can be released, as it is a soundtrack and must be synchronised with a product that isn’t finished yet. I have yet another unknown project I will share soon, and then it is hopefully time for new material from Altarmang, Hymnambulae, Cities Last Broadcast and Bonini Bulga. It moves in cycles. Even with Hypnagoga Press, I feel like we’ve barely started yet.

We Didn’t Tell Each Other How Wounded We Were by Åsa Boström


Michael: Transitioning to label matters, Åsa, would you like to tell us what has been happening lately around Hypnagoga Press? Any new plans, projects or developments that you would like to speak about?

Åsa BoströmWe’ll open the publishing house part of Hypnagoga Press soon, and to begin with, publish some of my books. Going forward, the music label and publishing house will overlap. Literary texts, voice, spoken word will be embedded in our music publications, and our literary publications will include music components.

Onward, we’ll also be focusing more on collaborations. Recently, we made a remix for Carl Abrahamsson, featuring on an album set for release at the end of May. It also contains both music and spoken word, with Carl’s and my voice overlapping.

Michael: Hypnagoga Press has already done releases in several formats: CD, Cassette, Zine, will you continue expanding into different forms of media?

ÅsaYes, we’ll continue expanding into different media formats. Explore multimedia products – music, literature, art – as well as various packaging formats. Boxes. Hybrid products. Possibly include objects as a part of the packaging. In my art-making, one medium I work with are sculptural objects, a form of ritual objects, made from materials collected on travels. Some of this might also turn up in our packaging. We’ll also introduce vinyl and more types of fine art prints. We intend to keep the physical editions very limited.

I Had Words Left, You Found Them by Åsa Boström

Michael: So far, Hypnagoga Press has been a conduit for you and Pär’s creative output. Will there be plans to search out talent from other individuals, or are you happy to keep this a close-knit sort of personal operation?

ÅsaHypnagoga Press is mainly a space for realising our own projects. But we’re planning an outlet for collaborations with others, an imprint or a series of publications, in the future.

Michael: Hypnagoga Press is still quite a new label, with your first release being Orgelhuset in 2016, by yourself and Pär as Hymnambulae. What has the startup been like? Are you happy with the current position of things, or have there been any setbacks?

ÅsaI’m very pleased with our first music releases – the debut albums by Hymnambule, Altarmang, Bonini Bulga, and now Teahouse Radio. Projects with narrative depth, supported by interesting creative processes, and I look forward to their progression.

Hypnagoga Press will be built long-term. It’s intended as a life’s work, with our creative and spiritual practices interwoven with creating experiences in which others may take part. Our publications serve as a form of tools, also for others to utilise, forming their own path and journey. To step in closer, reach further, manifest more.

Life also interfered in our startup. I got ill, due to mold in the countryside house where I was living, in the woods in northern Sweden. A house we’d made our Hypnagoga Press headquarter, where I had also set up my own studio space and a guest studio. All of that had to be taken apart and some of our publications got delayed. Now I live in Umeå, where Pär also lives, which makes running Hypnagoga Press together easier. Forces more joined and space freed up for what’s ahead.

Prayer Book by Åsa Boström

Michael: Are there any topics you would like to tell readers about, which I haven’t mentioned?

ÅsaI’d like to add a few words about our new release by Teahouse Radio. I’ve followed the development of the project for almost 15 years now. It’s a good example of how our individual projects often influence each other. I’ve been listening a lot to Teahouse Radio while writing my novel The Seafarer, which we’ll be publishing soon. And Pär has read The Seafarer while working on Teahouse Radio. Initially, we had planned to release them simultaneously.

Michael: Thank you so much for your time, it is always a pleasure!

Pär/Åsa BoströmThank you Michael, likewise!

Hypnagoga Press: Website, Facebook, Bandcamp, Youtube
Teahouse Radio: Website, Facebook, Bandcamp
Hymnambulae: Facebook, Bandcamp

Pär’s projects reviewed on This Is Darkness:
Altarmang – Void (2017)
Atrium Carceri & Cities Last Broadcast – Black Corner Den (2017)
Atrium Carceri, Cities Last Broadcast & God Body Disconnect – Miles To Midnight (2018)
Bonini Bulga – Sealed (2017)
Kammarheit – The Starwheel (2005)


The Caretaker – Everywhere At The End of Time: Stages III & IV – Review

Artist: The Caretaker
Album: Everywhere at the End of Time Stages 3 & 4
Release date: Periodically Releasing 2016 – 2019
Label: History Always Favours The Winners

Stage 3
E1. Back there Benjamin
E2. And heart breaks
E3. Hidden sea buried deep
E4. Libt’s all jyful camaraderie
E5. To the minimal great hidden
E6. Sublime beyond loss
E7. Bewildered in other eyes
E8. Long term dusk glimpses
F1. Gradations of arms length
F2. Drifting time misplaced
F3. Internal bewildered World
F4. Burning despair does ache
F5. Aching cavern without lucidity
F6. An empty bliss beyond this World
F7. Libet delay
F8. Mournful cameraderie

Stage 4
G1. Stage 4 Post Awareness Confusions
H1. Stage 4 Post Awareness Confusions
I1. Stage 4 Temporary Bliss State
J1. Stage 4 Post Awareness Confusions

Leyland Kirby has been creating music as The Caretaker since 1999 with his debut, Selected Memories From The Haunted Ballroom. Not surprisingly, this music sought to recreate the sounds and emotion of the ballroom music immortalized in the Stanley Kubrick film, The Shining. The music was a perfect combination of dusty old records and a subtle touch of horror, a recipe which Kirby would further hone over the following decade.

What started as a side-project / hobby of Kirby’s would take a turn in 2011 with the release of An Empty Bliss Beyond This World. This album was the culmination of all the previous years’ work. An Empty Bliss Beyond This World was hailed as an instant classic by the admittedly small crowd of us that care for these sorts of hidden gems. It’s not out of place to see copies of the original pressings of this vinyl going for upwards of $100.

The vinyl element of The Caretaker really holds the key to much of its glory. Over a number of years, Kirby has been working on his collection of old vinyl from the first half of the twentieth century. These records are the foundation of The Caretaker sound. Using his own version of aural alchemy, Kirby molds The Caretaker songs from these old records, adding to and shaping them as he goes. Leaving in it’s final form, albums that have the warmth and emotion of the old ballroom classics, but are given even more emphasis by the way Kirby records/re-plays/re-arranges them in his productions.

Five years after the success of An Empty Bliss Beyond This World, The Caretaker took this style of music to a more directed place than ever before. Everywhere At The End Of Time is a concept album(s) about a man (The Caretaker) as dementia slowly takes hold of his mind, and will inevitably leave him senseless. We saw on the first two stages his progression from daydreams and slight memory loss, into a more pronounced problem, as he begins to realize his predicament. You can read my review of the first two stages here.

To introduce Stage 3, it’s probably best to use the exact quote from Kirby:
“Here we are presented with some of the last coherent memories before confusion fully rolls in and the grey mists form and fade away. Finest moments have been remembered, the musical flow in places is more confused and tangled. As we progress some singular memories become more disturbed, isolated, broken and distant. These are the last embers of awareness before we enter the post awareness stages.”

Now this is the point where The Caretaker starts to take an interesting turn as a project. Stage 3 starts in much the way we would expect from the ending of Stage 2. But, as we progress through this stage, tracks like “Internal bewildered World” begin to showcase something more akin to dark ambient. In fact, by “Aching cavern without lucidity”, we have a track that is little more than a droning murky memory of what the previous tracks had presented. The Caretaker has officially lost his mind, and we, the listeners, are left in some dark void, peering out through the distorted vision of The Caretaker as if we were hypnotized to the sunken place, like the lead from that film, Get Out (2017).

For Stage 4, let’s again look at the description from Kirby:
“Post-Awareness Stage 4 is where serenity and the ability to recall singular memories gives way to confusions and horror. It’s the beginning of an eventual process where all memories begin to become more fluid through entanglements, repetition and rupture.”

Needless to say, Stage 4 is incredibly disjointed and bleak. Sides G, H, and J all consist of snippets of sounds from previous stages, which are now distorted, twisted, wrong. There is an increase in the staticy foundation and the moments often roll by without more than a glimmer of the carefree sounds we enjoyed during Stage 1. We are, however, given a period of solace, a sort of mirage in an endless sea of barren sand dunes. “I1. Stage 4 Temporary Bliss State”, as the title suggests, takes us away from the harsh unwelcoming sounds of the previous two tracks, and offers us something which is still incredibly disjointed, but also quite beautiful, and certainly peaceful in its own way.

As with the previous stages, Kirby is releasing these in small batches of vinyl. Also, the first three stages are now available as a three disc boxset. I finally got my hands on a copy of Stage 2 on discogs (it’s already long sold-out). As I expected, vinyl is absolutely the perfect format for this series, and The Caretaker in general. Of course, Kirby recreates the vinyl static on his albums, but placing the record on your turntable and then experiencing this sort of music is quite magical in and of itself. The earlier stages will be more attractive to fans of that ballroom sound or some variety nostalgic music. But, these later stages are starting to evolve into something that I think the more die-hard dark ambient fans might find to their liking. As always with The Caretaker, I highly recommend this release, and if you have the extra funds, get the vinyl before you have to start searching discogs for over-priced second-hands.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Noir – A Dark Jazz Mix pt.1

This mix was born of my love for crime noir, David Lynch films, and dark jazz music. The three elements come together to form a sort of otherwordly crime noir experience. Enjoy at sunset with a smoke and a glass of your favorite elixir. 
Part two will follow in the near future.

Check out the tracklist and links to the artists’ albums below the Mixcloud player.

01. 0:00:00 Dale Cooper Quartet – Aucun Cave
02. 0:06:35 Atrium Carceri, Cities Last Broadcast & God Body Disconnect – The Other Lobby
03. 0:12:20 Daniel James Dolby – Noir
04. 0:15:30 David Lynch & Dean Hurley – The Air Is On Fire: VII (Interior)
05. 0:19:40 Johnny Jewel – Windswept
06. 0:23:00 Phonothek – Heavy Thoughts
07. 0:28:30 Barry Adamson – Hollywood Sunset
08. 0:30:15 Dean Hurley – Shanghai Mysterioso
09. 0:34:45 Thelonius Monk – Round Midnight
10. 0:38:00 Wordclock – Heralds
11. 0:41:10 Musica Cthulhiana – The Unnamable
12. 0:47:35 Elegi – Vemod
13. 0:54:15 Manet – Zygomatic Bones For Days
14. 1:02:10 Phonothek – Red Moon
15. 1:06:15 Miles Davis – Generique
16. 1:08:55 Senketsu No Night Club – Megyaku

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