Category: Frozen In Time: Weekly News (Page 1 of 6)

Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – May 2021

Here are the dark ambient albums that we at This is Darkness have been listening to this month – some are new releases, but a few are older gems we’ve just (re)discovered. Please check these out by clicking on the Bandcamp links, and consider supporting the artists. Enjoy!


Matthew Mercer – Nocturnalism

I’m a big fan of music that is experimental or tries to do something a little different, so Matthew Mercer‘s latest release, Nocturnalism, really struck a chord with me. Gritty industrial textures, disembodied voices and instruments, and eerie drones all combine together to create a wonderfully dark sonic soundscape that invokes feelings of isolation and starkness. This is the perfect soundtrack for late night urban exploration and self-reflection. Very highly recommended.


Peter Bjärgö – The Translucency of Mind’s Decay

The latest album from Peter Bjärgö is a masterpiece of neoclassical / dark ambient, combined with elements of ritual ambient and folk music. It is, in a word, gorgeous – with rich multi-layered textures that pull you in under its spell, and provide something new on each and every listen. The album has a melancholic ambiance to it, that is both soothing and thought provoking. With The Translucency of Mind’s Decay, Peter has created something very special, and I will definitely be checking out his other work on the strength of this breath-taking release.


Brunstein – Not Doing Something

Not Doing Something by Brunstein is an experimental album of beautifully crafted drones and harsh, electronic tones. At first, it doesn’t feel like an easy listen, but as I played the album I soon found myself drawn in and really enjoying the resulting audio experience. This is an album that rewards careful listening and is definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for something a little different.


Alphaxone & ProtoU – Back to Beyond

The Cryo Chamber label is releasing a lot of high quality content just now, and Back to Beyond, the latest album from Alphaxone and ProtoU, is a perfect example of that. Dark ambient soundscapes are blended with subtle field recordings and elegant harmonic drones, producing an album of atmospheric space ambient that is – pun intended – out of this world. Unlike some space-themed dark ambient releases that can be quite ‘cold’ sounding, this is an album of warm, smooth tones that provides a comforting yet exhilarating listen. Wonderful.


Peur du noir – Calling the Ancients

Calling the Ancients, the debut release from French musician Peur du noir, is an intriguing gem of an EP. Electronic tones and liminal drone sounds have been perfectly combined together to create two wonderful tracks, and the end result is a rewarding listening experience. On the strength of this initial EP, I will definitely be following to see what Peur du noir releases next.


Narconia – Exit Wounds

Exit Wounds, the debut release from Narconia is an impressive album combining elements of dark ambient, electronica, ritual ambient, and drone. Each track here offers something different, and yet the album has a cohesive feel to it – meaning that the listener it taken on a rewarding audio journey as the album unfolds. With this debut solo release, Ian White has shown what a talented musician he is, and if you’re a fan of the more adventurous side of dark ambient then this is definitely worth checking out.


Long the Night – Illusion

Illusion is the debut release from Long The Night, the dark ambient side project by multi-instrumentalist / composer Derrick Stembridge known for his longstanding Drifting in Silence body of ambient work. Drones and dark ambient soundscapes have been beautifully melded together to create an album that is hypnotically deep and multi-layered, with an underlying feeling of melancholy and despair. Highly recommended.


In the Absence of Words – A Collection I

As the title suggests, A Collection I is a compilation of dark ambient works by In The Absence of Words – each track having originally been released individually between 2017 and 2019. The music here is dark / glacial ambient, with elements of evolving long form drones, providing a meditative, almost hypnotic, listening experience. This is the perfect music for unwinding to at the end of a stressful day, or for a spot of relaxing and self-reflection. Lovely.


Schloss Tegal – Musick from Madness

Now this is very cool – a classic dark ambient / industrial / drone album, recorded way back in the late eighties, and only ever previously released on cassette in 1991! That is reason enough to get yourself a copy of this masterpiece, but in case you had any doubt – the music here is simply incredible, especially considering it’s over 30 years old (!) and hasn’t dated at all. This is dark and edgy stuff, where the dark ambient and industrial genres collide and cross over, taking the listener on an extraordinary sonic journey deep into the depths of despair and insanity. An absolute must have.


Memory Of Sho – Life at the seaside

Tiny Drones For Lovers is one of my favourite labels, and this delightful 4 track EP by Memory Of Sho is another excellent release. Ambient soundscapes, warm drones, and haunting vocals & field recordings are layered together to create a mesmerising, dreamlike ambiance. It’s beautifully done, and I found myself losing track of time as I listened to this wonderful, unfolding music. Very highly recommended.


Peur du noir – Pontii Heremitae

As you’ll have read above, I really liked Peur du noir‘s debut EP, so I was thrilled when I discovered he had already released this follow-up. The music here is just as wonderful, but this time there is a darker, more melancholic edge to it, with elements of noise added to the mix. This is perfect for listening to on headphones, as you lie back on the sofa in the dark. Highly recommended.


Death Star – Obsidian

Obsidian is the second release from Death Star (the dark ambient side project of Equal Stones), and is an impressive album of dark, brooding dark ambient, with subtle industrial and noise elements added to the mix. In places the album is bleak and challenging, and in others it is lighter and more reflective – but talented musician Amandus Schaap has done an amazing job of ensuring the album has a single cohesive feel to it, with each track naturally leading into the next. Wonderful.


Equal Stones – Liberation

Liberation, the latest release from Equal Stones, is a deep, multi-layered album of dark ambient soundscapes and evolving long form drones. An underlying feeling of melancholy runs through the heart of this album, and it’s all so beautifully done that the music transports the listener away on an audio journey into the depths of darkness. This is one of those albums that you keep returning to, to listen to – and experience- again and again. Fantastic.


Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – April 2021

Here are the dark ambient albums that we at This is Darkness have been listening to this month – some are new releases, but a few are older gems we’ve just (re)discovered. Please check these out by clicking on the Bandcamp links, and consider supporting the artists. Enjoy!


Bonzaii – Death In The Cities

I’m a huge fan of Bonzaii – his melancholic, dream-like audio creations have a cinematic undertone, and I can easily lose myself in his music for hours at a time. This latest 5 track EP consists of music created solely from the manipulation of samples and field recordings – where bass-heavy tones are combined with discordant patterns and eerie soundscapes, resulting in music that is quite simply breath-taking. Very highly recommended!


Various Artists – Drone Islands – Stellar

Drone Islands is the latest release in Eighth Tower Records’ impressive Drone Islands series, and features twelve tracks of drone excellence from a number of talented musicians. Each track has something different to offer, with a variety of musical approaches being utilised, yet the album holds together perfectly, with a coherent sci-fi theme and ambiance running through it all. This album is definitely worth checking out if you’re wanting to explore drone music in general, or are looking to discover some new musicians to follow. Wonderful stuff!


Neon Noodle – Hunting For The Silence

For his fourth studio album, Neon Noodle has merged haunting dark ambient soundscapes with New Orleans jazz melodies, to create a wonderful audio experience that pulls the listener into a world of ghostly vintage jazz noir. This is an album that rewards an attentive listen, and is ideal for listening to in bed with the lights out. This is unlike anything else I’ve listened to in recent months, and I find myself drawn to it again and again. Incredible!


SiJ & Textere Oris – Reflections at the Sea

I love Reflections under the Sky, the previous atmospheric dark ambient album from SiJ & Textere Oris, so I was thrilled when I learned they were releasing a follow-up. It’s been 5 years, but totally worth the wait – because this is another exceptional album of emotive ambient soundscapes, subtle but powerful field recordings, and multi-layered soul-stirring music. This is the perfect soundtrack for taking time out from everyday life, for a spot of introspection and rebalancing of one’s self. An absolute must-buy for fans of deep drone and dark ambient!


Melanohelios – The Durance Machine

The latest release from Canadian musician Melanohelios is a wonderfully dark EP of cosmic dark ambient, with elements of drone and noise added to the mix. In places it’s harsh, aggressive and challenging, and in others it’s soft, light and reassuring. The music here is complex and multi-layered, and this is one of those incredibly rewarding albums where the listener discovers something new on each and every play. Fantastic!


NATURA EST – Real Seasons

This album of brooding dark ambient / drone is the third release from British electronic producer Tony Young and German industrial/noise musician Andreas Davids, and “… taps into the old ways; a time in which nature and the cycles of the Earth was to be worshipped and revered …”. Long form drones are beautifully combined with haunting vocals and unnerving soundscapes, resulting an album that manages to be both unsettling and soothing. On the strength of this album, I will definitely be checking out their earlier releases. Impressive!


Hiemal – Lands of Yore

Hiemal‘s latest album is a little darker sounding than some of his other recent releases – but ‘darker ‘ is a relative term, as this still has all the wonderful hallmarks of his music: long form drones with subtle field recordings and underlying themes of winter that provides an almost hypnotic experience. Fabulous!


Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – March 2021

Here are the dark ambient albums that we at This is Darkness have been listening to this month – some are new releases, but a few are older gems we’ve just (re)discovered. Please check these out by clicking on the Bandcamp links, and consider supporting the artists. Enjoy!


Ruptured World – Shore Rituals

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


Sanatana – Sanatana

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


DEN SORTE DØD – Den Sorte Død

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


58918012 – Signals

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


Tir – Persepolis

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


Die Toten Mäuse – Die Toten Mäuse

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


Tarme Til Alle – Penitentes

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


INSEON – ESPR

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

 

Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – February 2021

Here are the dark ambient albums that we at This is Darkness have been listening to this month – some are new releases, but a few are older gems we’ve just (re)discovered. Please check these out by clicking on the Bandcamp links, and consider supporting the artists. Enjoy!


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

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


Weird Gentleman – City Spleen

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


Sabled Sun – 2149

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


Scott Lawlor – Quiet Winter

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


Sonologyst – Dust Of Human Race

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


Beyond the Ghost – The Last Resort

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


Hilyard – Division Cycle

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

Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – January 2021

Here are the dark ambient albums that we at This is Darkness have been listening to this month – some are new releases, but a few are older gems we’ve just (re)discovered. Please check these out by clicking on the Bandcamp links, and consider supporting the artists. Enjoy!


Sonologyst – Ancient Death Cults and Beliefs

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


Various Artists – Music For Abandoned Cold War Places

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


Various Artists – Demonology In Dante’s Inferno

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


Scott Lawlor – New Beginnings and Reflections, Volume 2

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


HLER – LGM-1

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


Hiemal – Shishaldin

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

 

Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – December 2020

Here are the dark ambient albums that we at This is Darkness have been listening to this month – some are new releases, but a few are older gems we’ve just (re)discovered. Please check these out by clicking on the Bandcamp links, and consider supporting the artists. Enjoy!


Various Artists – Selected Ambient Works From Italy

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


Grande Loge – Mantras

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


Scott Lawlor – Rex Gentium

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


Randal Collier-Ford – Advent

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


Ruptured World – Interplanetary

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


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

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


Altarmang – Mothstar

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


Imprisoner – How the End Might Roar

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


Caleb R.K. Williams – Skies

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

 

Scott Lawlor – Interview

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I’ve been wanting to speak with Scott since I first heard the album Life Passes Slowly Unto Death. Scott’s music is sometimes dark and edgy, other times lighter and relaxing – but it’s always powerful, soul-stirring stuff that cannot fail to move you. I hope you will all enjoy this interview and consider supporting the artist – he has some great work on his Bandcamp page, which is linked to at the bottom of this article!

Interviewer: Rich Dodgin
Interviewee: Scott Lawlor

 

Rich: Hi Scott! First of all, a massive thank you for this opportunity to interview you for This Is Darkness, and to give our readers a chance to learn more about you and your music.

Scott: Thank you, I appreciate the opportunity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Rich: Can you tell me about your own journey of musical discovery and experimentation? How did you discover / fall in love with ambient / dark ambient / drone music, and how did your creation of music develop over the years?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rich: What are your future musical plans?

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

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Not that I can think of.

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

 

Scott Lawlor Links

Facebook
Bandcamp
Youtube

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.


 

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.


 

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