Category: Reviews (Page 1 of 18)

Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – August 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!


Ov Pain – The Churning Blue of Noon

The latest release from Melbourne based underground record label, it Records, is this wonderful mystic album from Ov Pain, which is described as being “… dark and magical, mixing experimental darkwave with drone and free jazz, with a hint of neo-folk and shoegaze ...” It’s an apt description, because this remarkable album effortlessly blends together a number of genres and styles to create something beautiful and truly unique. The Churning Blue of Noon is an eerie psychedelic soundscape that takes the listener on a heady journey. No, this isn’t strictly speaking dark ambient – but there are definite dark ambient and drone elements in the mix, so if you’re a fan of experimental or transcendental music then this album is very much worth checking out. It’s also worth mentioning that as well as a digital download, the album is available on limited edition vinyl. Very highly recommended!


Various Artists – The Beyond – Music Inspired By The Lucio Fulci Death Trilogy

Eighth Tower Records continue to release original and rewarding music of the highest quality, and The Beyond – Music Inspired By The Lucio Fulci Death Trilogy, is no exception. Featuring 14 tracks from a range of talented musicians, across a number of genres and styles – including dark ambient, drone and noise, to name just a few – this impressive album is an alternative / imagined soundtrack to Lucio Fulci’s “Trilogy Of Death” horror movies. As usual, Raffaele Pezzella (Sonologyst) has done an amazing job of curating this album – each track offers something different, yet they all work together perfectly to create a masterpiece of dark and eerie soundscapes. Wonderful!


Equal Stones – Wretched Human Mirror

Wretched Human Mirror by Equal Stones is, as the title suggests, a thematically dark and desolate album of dark ambient / drone. The music here is dark, brooding, and melancholic – providing the listener with a challenging yet rewarding audio journey of self-reflection and introspection. This is wonderful stuff, and I’ve had this on repeat play for the last few weeks, finding it the perfect soundtrack for lying on the sofa at the end of the day as I mull over the events of the day. With this release Amandus Schaap has demonstrated again what a talented musician he is, and I will be watching to see what he does next with anticipation. Fabulous!


Equal Stones – April Ethereal

April Ethereal is a more mellow release from Equal Stones, though no less impressive. The first track blends thick layered drone with piano and ambient soundscapes, and the second and third both combine static and glitches with unfolding long drones. The resulting music is haunting, deep and hypnotic. Highly recommended!


A Most Accursed – Synaesthetic Dialogue

The latest album from A Most Accursed is a wonderful mix of dark ambient, ritual ambient, and drone – created using an eclectic range of instruments including “… piano, mellotron, ostinato strings, stoner guitars and vintage drums… ” The end result is an awe-inspiring album of gothic soundscapes that will appeal to fans of dark ambient and stoner rock alike. Stunning!


Grist – Another Year

Another Year, the latest release from Grist, is an impressive three track album of dark ambient / ritual ambient, with elements of drone and noise added to the mix. The first track features haunting piano loops and eerie pulsing drones, the second is a chaotic collection of ritual and industrial sounds, and the third a static based noise fest. This is a dark and evocative soundtrack, with the three tracks working together to produce a mesmerizing listening experience that is somehow both disturbing and soothing in equal measure. Wonderful!


Facetoucher – The Plaguetime Blues

Now this is an intriguing concept – real-time improvised voices have real-time improvised effects applied to them. The music of the resulting four tracks ranges from “… minimalist choral drones to twinkling fragmented glitch to frenetic postcybergrind to wall-of-noise…” It’s brilliant stuff – aggressive and challenging in places, gentler and more welcoming in others. Definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of experimental dark ambient / drone. Impressive!


Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – July 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!


Various Artists – New State of Flux

The Reverse Alignment label returns with this wonderful compilation of minimal and experimental drone / ambient music, featuring 20 tracks from an impressive rota of talented musicians which includes Sonologyst, SITKAJarl, and Taphephobia to name just a few. Raffaele Pezzella has done an amazing job of curating this album – each track offers something different, and yet it all hangs together perfectly, providing an incredible listening experience when played in its entirety. This is one of those sublime albums that provides you with something different each and every time you listen to it. Highly recommended!


These Liminal Days – Empty Spaces 1

Empty Spaces 1, the latest release from These Liminal Days, is a four track album “…exploring some dark and empty spaces…”. The music here is minimalist soundscape with elements of drone and dark ambient added to the mix, resulting in an album that is both comforting and unsettling in equal measure – it provides a relaxing listening experience, but one with an underlying sense of foreboding and emptiness. This is billed as the first in a series, and on the strength of this album I will definitely be checking out later installments. Absolutely wonderful !


Spacelab – Knell

The latest release from Hreám Recordings is this impressive album of experimental electronic / drone from Spacelab. Each of the six tracks here offer something a little different and range from pure drone through to full on experimental. It’s breathtaking stuff that rewards multiple listens and seeps its way into your subconscious when you least expect it. With Knell, Spacelab have created an album that is refreshingly different, and if you’re  fan of drone and experimental ambient then this is very much worth checking out!


Scott Lawlor – Journey of a Dying Girl

Scott Lawlor creates some of the most beautiful and deep dark ambient / drone that I’ve ever heard, and his latest release – Journey of a Dying Girl – is another wonderful example of just how talented he is. This is a concept album that tells the story of a girl who is brutally attacked, has a near death experience, and then struggles to accept she is still alive. It’s powerful stuff, all told through the multi-layered dark ambient / drone music – in places dark and foreboding, in others light and relaxing. Very highly recommended!


Lisa Bella Donna – Mourning Light

Lisa Bella Donna‘s latest album, Mourning Light, is a gorgeous 4 track album that is over 90 minutes long and features some of the most wonderful, soothing music I’ve heard in a long time. This is minimalist electro-ambient music with subtle dark ambient elements added to the mix -absolutely perfect for chilling out to as you lie on the sofa on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I’ve fallen in love with this album, and have already started to check out some of Lisa Bella Donna‘s previous releases. If you’re a fan of mellow ambient then you simply have to check out this album. Gorgeous!


Frozen In Time: This is Darkness playlist – June 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!


Stephen Spera – D​.​A. #013 – A​.​D. 2021

The Dust Archive label publishes music “… found inside mysterious boxes…”, which is a very cool concept that has resulted in some incredibly innovative releases. D​.​A. #013 – A​.​D. 2021 by Stephen Spera is the perfect example, with 9 tracks of gorgeously melancholic dark ambient / experimental electronica infused with atmospheric field recordings. Listening to this, it really does feel like you are getting a momentary insight into the lives of other(s) through these found artefacts. This is strange, yet comforting music, easy to lose yourself in and perfect for chilling out to. Very highly recommended.


Peur du noir – Empire

Peur du noir‘s latest release, Empire, features two dark tracks of brooding dark ambient / drone, with haunting otherworldly vocals and an added layer of electronica that combine together to create goosebump inducing, atmospheric music that is – quite frankly – jaw droppingly good. This is powerful stuff and is definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for something dark and edgy. Wonderful!


Theatre Of Delays – Betelgeuse Boogaloo

The latest album from Theatre of Delays is this impressive 8 track collection of cinematic dark ambient / drone / experimental music. It’s all beautifully done, but as if that wasn’t enough, there is also an associated video (the link for which can be found on the Bandcamp page) that adds a whole dimension to the listening experience. Steve Bolch has created an incredible album / audiovisual project here, and on the basis of Betelgeuse Boogaloo I will definitely be watching to see what he does next. Fantastic stuff!


Blanket Swimming – Arioso

Decaying Spheres are fast becoming one of my favourite labels, consistently releasing high quality music from some very talented musicians. Their latest release, Arioso by Blanket Swimming is no exception – with beautiful, melancholic soundscapes that repeat and grow as the tracks unwind. Listening to this album is almost hypnotic, with the music washing over you in breath-like waves that leave you feeling relaxed and renewed. This album is – in a word – wonderful, and I will be listening to it for a long time to come.


New Leaders Of The Eldritch Cult – The Thing In The Basement

Another of my favourite labels is Sombre Soniks, who specialise in dark and ritual ambient releases. The Thing In The Basement is a compilation album, released in collaboration with Will Connor (Seesar) and featuring artists from his ‘New Leaders Of The Eldritch Cult‘ collective. There are 14 tracks, and every single one of them provides something different, while also fitting into the over-arching feel of the album. If Lovecraftian soundtracks and soundscapes are your thing, then you will love this album – it’s dark and eerie, with plenty to keep you entertained… and give you nightmares!


Shadow Echo Canyon – Shiver

Now this is very cool. The latest dark ambient / drone release from Luca Tommasini (the man behind the awesome Tiny Drones for Lovers label) features two tracks of disturbing, brooding darkness that sound like something from the soundtrack to a journey into the depths of Hell. I’ve had this on repeat play since I first heard it, and I’ve already started to check out earlier Shadow Echo Canyon releases because I’m enjoying this so much. Check it out!


Akoustik Timbre Frekuency – Kompilation Kompendium Vol IV

Akoustik Timbre Frekuency has released lots of amazing dark ambient / ritual ambient music over the last few years, sometimes as part of compilation albums featuring a host of different artists. It’s therefore great to have those tracks pulled together into one single place in his own compilation album, Kompilation Kompendium Vol IV. Each of the 8 tracks here provides the listener with an audio journey into the dark unknown, with otherworldly soundscapes and ritual field recordings expertly combined together to produce something very special indeed. This is the perfect starting point for delving into the wonderful music of this talented artist.


Drifting In Silence – False Awakening

The latest release from Drifting In Silence is one of those wonderful albums that straddles both the ambient and dark ambient genres. In places, it is light, soothing and gentle… and in others, it is dark and unnerving. Listening to this album, I found myself fully drawn in, away from everything else around me – pulled under the spell of the music as time itself seemed to stop. This is an album for surrendering yourself too, for listening to at high volume on headphones, as you lie in the dark. Absolutely magnificent.


Bonzaii – Seagull / Dive

Regular readers will know that I’m a huge fan of Bonzaii, and that I’m always thrilled when he releases new material. Seagull / Dive features another couple of fantastic tracks – both dark and trippy, with looping drone melodies that build and grow as they unfold. This is melancholic music, perfect for self-reflection and thinking back to years gone by. Gorgeous as always.


Neon Noodle – Machine Aerier

With Machine Aerier, Neon Noodle has combined 20 year old tape recordings with new guitarwork and samples. The end result is a delightful collection of experimental lo-fi, with elements of drone and dark ambient to spice things up. This is one of those rewarding releases that provides the listener with something new each and every time they listen to it – the music is deep and multi-layered, and the different sounds and styles have been so expertly blended together that exploring this album is a total joy from start to finish. Very highly recommended.


Spettro Records – Spettro Audio Collectif

The latest release from Spettro RecordsSpettro Audio Collectif, isn’t pure dark ambient – indeed, many of the tracks included in this compilation are distinctly not dark ambient. But, each of the 10 tracks here has something of real value to offer the listener, and those looking for something a little bit different from standard dark ambient / drone will be find this album of experimental / electronica / ambient / post-rock an absolute delight. Fabulous!


Altars – Altars

Now this is the perfect album for blowing away those hangover cobwebs – brooding guitar-based dark ambient, with elements of doom metal added to the mix! Those looking for subtle soundscapes and gently developing drones should look elsewhere, because this latest release from Altars is heavy as hell! It’s incredibly powerful stuff and the first time I played this album it took my breath away. I have been listening to this almost non-stop since I first heard it, and I still absolutely love it. If you’re looking for something on the heavier side of the dark ambient genre then I cannot recommend this album enough – it is simply amazing!

La Delaïssádo – New Printed Fanzine Review


Since Desiderii Marginis is the first interview in La Delaïssádo, let’s have a listen to his latest album while reading!

Early in 2020, a little after the full realization of what Covid-19 had in store for the world, I received a very interesting e-mail from a fellow named Bertrand from France. He explained that he’d been a writer and co-editor at Convivial Hermit Magazine and the Obsküre webzine for nearly 20 years, and was now ready to spread his own wings and delve into a printed fanzine of his own creation. He asked me to be one of the interviewees for the first edition and I gratefully accepted.

So, here’s a bit of an overview of what you can expect in this first issue and how you can get your hands on one of the 199 copies, before they are gone forever. And last but certainly not least, I asked Bertrand some questions, myself, which well help give a bit of extra background on Bertrand and his motivations/ambitions going forward.

Let’s start with the physical aspects of the zine. It’s a soft glossy covered 172 pages in the A5 format. It is presented in black and white only. For a fanzine, which will certainly be making its way all over the planet, I think this was the right choice. The presentation is very clean, and the readability is top-notch. While, the costs of production were likely able to stay relatively low, which is why he’s selling these for a mere €6.50. That low price also helps to negate some of the incredibly high shipping costs that the world has been experiencing of late.

As for the name and content of La Delaïssádo, Delaissado is an Occitan word meaning “abandoned”. The zine covers a number of articles, crossing a swathe of topics. The first being a lengthy conversation with Desiderii Marginis, the renowned dark ambient musician. Followed by an interview of Laurent Clement of the Dead Seed Productions record label. Then, he interviews me, journalist behind a dark ambient zine. Then, he has an article about the very interesting historical location of Montsegur. And so forth. As you can see, La Delaïssádo comes at journalism in a very similar way to This Is Darkness, focusing little on the need for strict adherence to format, and more on introducing readers to a breadth of interesting topics, seemingly compiled only at the whims of the writer(s), but still managing to be of a cohesive whole concept.

I was expecting to only see music related articles in La Delaïssádo. But, upon reaching the fourth article. I found a very interesting historical take on the French site of Montsegur, which I had a basic awareness of, on account of the possible Cathar connection to The Curse of Oak Island, a tv show that follows a treasure-hunter/archaeologist motley crew as they throw all sense of monetary concern to the wind, in search of the fabled lost treasure, which the Knights Templar left somewhere on Earth, or not… What followed in La Delaïssádo was an incredibly well prepared look into the Cathar history of the site, and the story of its ancient seige and destruction. The narrative was presented from the first-person perspective of Bertrand, La Delaïssádo‘s editor, recounting his first trip to the location for some basic hiking and sight-seeing, which turned into a more spiritual experience than he’d expected.

There were four more articles that were interesting divergences from specifically musical topics. Inside the Den of a Dreamer: Gustave Moreau’s Museum takes us on a ‘textual tour’ of the beautiful museum in Paris, which had previously been Gustave Moreau‘s workshop. The interview with Amy Cros explains what brought her to study Occitan languages as well as how and why their preservation is necessary. Laura-Lee Soleman is a French plastic artist. She works in a style that would be considered quite dark to many. She explains how music, film (particularly those of Béla Tarr) and life-experiences can lead one to creating different forms of art for different reasons. And lastly, we are given a very interesting interview with the owners of the Brasserie Ouroboros, a unique craft-beer brewery in the Auvergne region of France. While the beer is the main attraction here, increasingly this brewery, perched in a little mountain village named Freycenet-la-Tour near Le Puy-en-Velay, is becoming a hot-spot for concerts, which often include the likes of black metal and other dark/occult/alternative styles.

Readers will also find, scattered throughout this issue, a number of reviews, most closely resembling the format/length of those we are used to seeing in Noise Receptor. These reviews mainly, but not exclusively, focus on recent dark ambient and black metal releases. Other articles included focus on: Jean-Philippe Jaworski, Forêt Endormie, Cioran Records and Hecate.

For the rest of this article, let’s have a look at what Bertrand had to say to me about the zine’s first-issue-development and what we can expect in future issues.

Michael: France and Occitan language seems to be very important to you, as it plays a prominent position throughout this first issue. What is it that drew you to focus on this region/culture? Have you always been interested in such things relating to (your) heritage, or has this interest increased as time passes?

Bertrand: We French are a self-centered bunch as is common knowledge. Joking apart, you do raise a good point with this: in recent years, I have found that my curiosity toward people and their occupations tends to have me look ever closer to home sweet home, not in a flag-waving “support your local scene” movement, but at some point I just seem to have lost some of the impulse for canvassing the unlikeliest recesses of the globe in search of bands and styles no one has ever talked about – sometimes for a reason. On a personal level, I am very much aware of my heritage as you put it, which is inextricably bound up with the Occitan influence on culture, architecture, landscapes, and people since the Middle Ages. Occitania, more specifically the broad area from Auvergne (where I live) to the South-Western Pyrenees, is where I spend most of my vacation time. I am not a huge traveler but I got around a fair bit across Europe on account of being a compulsive hiker and museum rat, and I easily enjoy myself everywhere, but the sense of belonging is real. It is true that the fanzine partly reflects this. What can I say, if an article can get someone interested enough to look up either Auvergne, Dordogne, Aubrac, Languedoc, Pyrenees, or all at once in a search engine and maybe contemplate a trip, then huzzah I guess.

Michael: It seems fairly evident that you are a huge fan of black metal and dark ambient music. Will these be your major musical focuses going forward with La Delaïssádo, or will you be covering anything/everything that tickles your fancy? If the latter, what other genres are we likely to expect to read about?

Bertrand: I curse myself on a regular basis for the irrepressible urge to flesh out my album collection in a dozen parallel directions, but I think spreading a zine too thin would do it a disservice. As much as mono-themed zines present challenges of their own, I also see a need for limits, at least as long as one hasn’t maxed out their street cred. As it were, extreme metal, dark folk and dark ambient are the genres I feel most comfortable talking about, so even though classical music, 70’s prog/rock and electro/IDM make up a fair share of my time with music, small chance I’ll cover these genres beyond the occasional review, except if nailing a super exciting interview through some chain of circumstances. In fact the Forêt Endormie interview in #1 encroaches on classical music talk to some extent, but I’m certainly not competent or even willing to discuss classical music as a “specialist”.

Michael: You clearly have a great appreciation for art, in its many forms. But, I noticed throughout the issue that you mention not being very good at several different artistic formats. Do you consider your writing to be your main artistic talent, or do you have any other focuses: painting, music, sculpture, etc?

Bertrand: I have never applied myself to practicing music or drawing nearly enough to be able to determine if some calling is asleep inside of me, though I’ve dabbled in creative undertakings a few times and still strum the occasional chord with all the nimbleness of a dead plant. So yes, writing is what I do, though to speak of a talent… I took up to gardening recently, if that counts?

Michael: Do you have any plans for a set release schedule, or will issues release whenever the timing is right?

Bertrand: If I’m being 100% honest here, La Delaïssádo’s first issue was a work of obsessive commitment for the better part of nine months (being my first solo editorial project from A to Z) but I went at it like a blinkered horse chased by a swarm of hornets, not paying much attention to its cohesiveness as a magazine and (mis)using the cracked page design software in ways I certainly wouldn’t replicate now that I’ve learned the ropes. As a result, and to keep it brief, I am both pleased on the whole with it and very much aware of a hundred shortcomings, and also so spent that I’d rather lay the “classic” way of doing fanzines (interviews, reviews, articles, rinse and repeat) to rest for the time being. Right now I have a wholly different book concept in mind, which I’m pretty excited about, but it’s all very early-stage. La Delaïssádo will return with near certainty for a second serving but there is no schedule whatsoever. Might be in two years, might be in five. “Whenever the timing’s right” sounds like a plan. I’m not out to retain a readership, that much is clear.

Michael: Thanks so much for covering This Is Darkness in your first issue! I’m really pleased with how the entire zine turned out, I had no idea what to expect when you first approached me about an interview, last year. I hope we will find some way of collaborating again in the future!

Bertrand: Thank you for having me on your excellent platform in return. It does feel odd to be interviewed as a zine editor, especially just after a debut issue that has sold fewer than 100 copies so far, but nothing is sacred anymore in this time and age. I will be sure to keep a close eye on the developments at This Is Darkness!

Be sure to grab a copy of La Delaïssádo here before they are all sold-out! There were less than 100 copies left at the time of writing this, and I’ve already been told that several friends have purchased copies over the last few days. So no slacking! Support independent journalism and fellow genre-lovers that put in such time, effort, and capital, to make something like this come to be a reality!

Written by: Michael Barnett

Infinexhuma – Frontier – Review

Artist: Infinexhuma
Album: Frontier
Release date: 1 January 2021
Label: Alchemy Labor Unit

Tracklist:
Disc I
01. Converter
02. Orbital ft. Blood Box
03. Sword
04. Sweeper
05. Heaven March ft. Nerraterrae
06. Position in Flames
Disc II
01. Catharsis of Goodbye
02. Deep Runnel ft. Common Eider, King Eider
03. In the End
04. Forged
05. Every Door
06. Stormless

Much time has passed during severance. Alone now at this gate.
Prepared for a second entry into chaos, but now as one, no longer two.
No longer without a purpose, now with aim, now with death hands, life heart
Now solidified, now for genocide of evil, to send ashes back up
To crush all flesh of those who fell from the sky to experiment.
Flames grow as I scream, flames resolder the soul
Beware this force, forever thankful to the spiritual loss
For the gain is unblurring the mission, cleaning begins now

SOUL DIVERGENCE AFTER PASSING
THE SEARCH CAUSED MANY LOSSES
SECOND ENTRY INTO FALLEN LAND
NOW AS ONE ONLY WITH AIM
DEATH HANDS, LIFE HEART
SOLIDIFIED, GENOCIDE OF EVIL
THOSE WHO FELL WITH TARGETS BEWARE
FLAMES RESOLDER THE SOUL
FLAMES GROW BLUE AS I SCREAM
YOU ARE WARNED, I AM COMING FOR YOU
YOU TOOK FROM ME
SO YOUR EXPIRATION IS NOW
WE BEGIN

I have been aware of the works of Infinexhuma for quite some time now. I have given a few of his albums a passing listen over the last few years. While I always enjoyed the sounds, I didn’t find something that immediately drew me to the music, or made it stand out especially well from everything else I was hearing at the time. However, the unexpected arrival of this latest release, Frontier, in the mail a few months ago, led me to finally give Infinexhuma the proper listen that I’d denied them for so long, up to this point.

The first thing with this release that stood out for me, upon inspection, was that it was mastered by Grant Richardson of the brilliant death-industrial project Gnawed. Furthermore, I noticed that there were collaborations with Blood Box, Common Eider, King Eider, and Nerraterrae, so this piqued my interests even further.

A double-disc length album might seem like a bit of an overwhelming place to start discovering a new musician. But, I discovered from the very first moments through the end of the second disc, that Infinexhuma has really hit the mark with this one! The album starts with the track “Converter”, which sounds like a cross between Atrium Carceri and Theologian. Crisp field recordings combine with harsh industrial sounds, (never coming near wall-of-noise status though). Later in the track, children can be heard playing in the background while something that sounds like an alien invasion or some apocalyptic storm unnaturally shifts through the air around them. Needless to say, this all easily pulled me into the mix. The wealth of elements all come together to create a really well-rounded piece of dark ambient composition, with a hint of death-industrial vibes.

As the album progresses, we are able to hear equal parts of the dark ambient and that subdued death-industrial vibe, similar to the more dark ambient leaning albums of Gnawed. The second track, “Orbital” starts with an airy almost spacey, relaxed ambiance that slowly evolves into something much more energized and cacophonous. Again, comparisons to something like Theologian are present on this one, but there is also a tinge of more traditional, yet still harsh dark ambient sounds, like those made prominent by AUN. As the track slows, it feels like we’ve just witnessed the explosion of a planet or something equally devastating. Now we watch from an ever-increasing distance as the carnage recedes.

While I’m not one for track-by-track analyses, to some degree they are necessary. So, I’ll share a few more highlights with you all. The third track, “Sword” applies what appear to be choir samples, presented as almost a dronework with a constant barrage of torturous screams. An Atrium Carceri-esque sound, which almost feels like an explosion recurs throughout the track, filling the role of ‘percussion’. Something like the inquisition comes to mind with this track, on account of the juxtaposition between the light of the choir and the darkness of the screams. As if all this suffering is for the greater good of… something.

While there are some quite intense sections of the album, it is not all aggressive. As we wind down from the heat of the first three tracks, “Sweeper” appears, giving us a needed break. This track starts with more of a ritualistic vibe, using instrumentation like bells and singing bowls, along with a gentle rain. In the distance we can hear what is likely chiming from a church’s bell-tower.

“In the End” is definitely one of the more unusual tracks on Frontier. We are presented with a slowly building techno-esque repetitive combination of percussion and synths. Overlaying this beat is a deeply embedded and reverberated screaming. Unlike on previous tracks of the album, the screaming here follows something more akin to Theologian. It is by no means front and center, but it is ‘lead vocals’ in a more traditional sense than you will find in most dark ambient, aside from the likes of the aforementioned Theologian and other similar acts like Gnawed, Phragments or The Vomit Arsonist. It is certainly worth mentioning here, that this album and these vocals were likely able to reach that pinnacle of dark ambient / death industrial cross-over territory at least in part because of the mastering duties being helmed here by none other than Grant Richardson of Gnawed.

The last track I’d like to mention is “Every Door”. We are again presented with these death-industrial style vocals, but this time the track is much more subdued, more dark ambient. The voice gives a menacing presence, as if we are hooded and caged in some serial killer’s basement, listening to their maddened rants through a thick layer of fog and confusion. This track and the way I’ve interpreted its theme also draw me to a quote from Charles Manson which he often said, “The way out of the room is not through the door.” Here, meaning to me, this ‘prisoner’ is looking for an escape from this dungeon/hell, however ‘Every Door’ he checks is the same and leads him right back to the same dungeon/hell.

Frontier is presented in a well-crafted 6 panel digi-pak. It’s the first release on Alchemy Labor Unit, which is run by the man behind Infinexhuma and is primarily a place for release of his own music, but also will be home to other friends’ and collaborators’ projects in the future.

I would highly recommend Frontier, as one of the more interesting dark ambient / death industrial releases so far in 2021. It’s also a great place to first discover the sounds of Infinexhuma if you, like me, had not previously given their music much of a chance. I will now be planning to slowly move backward through their other releases, as I assume there will be some more overlooked gems for me/you to discover!

Written by: Michael Barnett

Nihil Impvlse – Stasis – Review

Artist: Nihil Impvlse
Album: Stasis
Release date: 17 December 2020
Label: Eighth Tower Records
Reviewer: Rich Dodgin

Tracklist:
01. Krankheitsfelder
02. Psychik Plague
03. Thanatological Singularity
04. Zeitgeist Penthotal
05. A Prison Within A Prison
06. Prophets Of Fall
07. To All Our Futures These Ruins Shall Return

Sometimes I’m just in the mood for something dark, noisy and aggressive as hell… and on days like those, an album such as Stasis by Nihil Impvlse is exactly what I need.

Stasis is “… an exploration, in seven chapters, of the diagrams of the power mechanisms caging us in an invisible prison: civilization… “, and during the course of the album we are treated to an array of harsh noise / drone / industrial, full of jarring, pounding, skull-splitting soundscapes from the depths of hell. It’s bleak, discomforting stuff, but that’s the point.

Each track is also complimented by a sparingly used vocal sample, that provides additional context and example of the political and personal power struggles that bind us all within life’s prison cell. The end result  is an impressive album that challenges and rewards in equal measure – and where each track offers something different, and yet maintains the overall feel of the album.

With StasisNihil Impvlse has done an incredible job of expressing the frustration and futility of modern life; of being trapped as a cog in the grinding wheels of civilisation.

Highly recommended!

Written by: Rich Dodgin

Various – Yig – Review

Artist: Various
Album: Yig
Release date: 29 December 2020
Label: Cryo Chamber
Reviewer: Rich Dodgin

Tracklist:
01. Yig 1
02. Yig 2

Yig, the seventh in Cryo Chamber‘s series of Lovecraftian releases, was recorded by over 20 of the scene’s biggest names working together in collaboration for over a year to write, produce and perform this incredible 2 hour dark ambient soundscape album.

Collaborators included:
Neizvestija
ProtoU
Dronny Darko
RNGMNN
In Quantum
Dead Melodies
Atrium Carceri
Keosz
Northumbria
Beyond the Ghost
Wordclock
God Body Disconnect
Randal Collier-Ford
Hilyard
Council of Nine
Dahlia’s Tear
Lesa Listvy
Creation VI
Aegri Somnia
Ager Sonus
Ruptured World
Alphaxone

And if that isn’t enough to get you salivating, just wait until you hear the music they’ve created – because this is quite honestly one of the best dark ambient albums I’ve heard in recent times.

During the course of the 2 tracks, each over an hour in length, we are treated to an amazing audio journey that takes us from trepidation, despair and horror at at one end of the scale, to soothing reassurance and hope at the other.

The music here has so much depth and is so multi-layered that it’s impossible to describe it all in any detail, but needless to say that each artist has clearly delivered their highest quality work for this album – as evidenced by the fact that there is no filler here whatsoever. Each and every moment of Yig is full of spine-tinglingly, goose-bump inducing dark ambient excellence that draws you under its spell. Not only that, but it all hangs together perfectly, seamlessly moving from dark, brooding soundscape to rhythmic ritualistic ensemble, and from enchanting ethereal layers to raw-edged, discordant drones.

The production quality, as you would expect from a Cryo Chamber release, is simply gorgeous, providing a cinematically dark listening experience in which every sound and each individual note adds something essential to the mix.

Yig is available as a digital download, and as a double CD album that comes in a deluxe 20 page hardcover DigiBook. Inside, the breath-taking artwork of Simon Heath is complimented by journal entries written by Alistair Rennie (Ruptured World).

This is an album that rewards repeated listening – I’ve had it on continuous play for the last week or so, and each and every time I’ve discovered something new and wonderous among the atmospheric field recordings and sonic soundscapes.

Yig is another exceptional release from Cryo Chamber, and anyone who is a fan of their dark ambient albums shouldn’t hesitate to buy themselves a copy of this album. Absolutely outstanding!

Written by: Rich Dodgin

Scott Lawlor – Life Passes Slowly Unto Death – Review

Artist: Scott Lawlor
Album: Life Passes Slowly Unto Death
Release date: 18 November 2020
Label: Self-released
Reviewer: Rich Dodgin

Tracklist:
01. Life Passes Slowly Unto Death
02. As the Dying Process Begins, Comprehension of Mortality is Realized
03. Drifting Through Unsequenced Memories
04. Your Worst Fear is Dying Without Being Remembered
05. Whisperings From Beyond The Veil Call You Home
06. The Perfect Darkness of Death
07. The Touching is a Bridge Between the Afterlife and the World Which You Left Behind

Over the last decade, Scott Lawlor has established himself as talented and well-respected member of the ambient community, releasing over 300 albums of first-class ambient, dark ambient, piano, and drone music.

His latest release, Life Passes Slowly Unto Death, is a heartfelt, spiritual dark-ambient album that, as the title suggests, is a reflection upon life and death, and the journey from one to the other.

Opening track Life Passes Slowly Unto Death sets the tone nicely for the whole album – dark, oppressive drones are expertly combined with soaring synth work, perfectly balancing the darkness and the light. The end result is an incredible track that, despite its threatening undertone, leaves the listener feeling introspective yet hopeful.

As the Dying Process Begins, Comprehension of Mortality is Realized is considerably more unsettling. An eerie dark-ambient soundscape is accompanied by what sounds like field-recordings from another planet as we hear the murmuring and chirping of alien lifeforms. Drifting Through Unsequenced Memories continues in a similar vein, but with the otherworldly lifeforms replaced by the sounds of indistinct conversations. And as the track unfolds, soaring synths are added to the mix, adding a lightness to the track and switching things from being uncanny to intriguing.

The piano work on Your Worst Fear is Dying Without Being Remembered is subtle but powerful, creating an almost overwhelming sense of melancholy. Playing this track provides a thought-provoking and rewarding listening experience, and it’s impossible not to find yourself reviewing your life and likely legacy. Whisperings From Beyond The Veil Call You Home is a more minimalist piece, in which a subtle dark-ambient soundscape and an underlying, unintelligible whispering merge together in a haunting yet calming audio hallucination.

The Perfect Darkness of Death is the bleakest and most ‘dark-ambient’ track on the album. Brooding drones and discordant synths are complimented by strange echoes and ethereal sounds. It’s impressive stuff and listening to it, you can almost feel yourself being pulled through the curtain and into the afterlife.

Final track, The Touching is a Bridge Between the Afterlife and the World Which You Left Behind, is an emotional piece, with the melancholic piano and soul-stirring singing producing a perfect ending to the album – leaving the listener feeling touched by something very special.

Life Passes Slowly Unto Death is an incredible album, in which the theme of death is skilfully explored, once again demonstrating just how gifted a musician Scott Lawlor is.

Very highly recommended.

Written by: Rich Dodgin

Eppu Kaipainen – Poiu – Review

Artist: Eppu Kaipainen
Album: Poiu
Release date: 4 December 2020
Label: Decaying Spheres
Reviewer: Rich Dodgin

Tracklist:
01. To See Wear Requires a Mindful Watcher
02. Yeardays
03. Personal Clocks ft Dan Fingerman
04. Poiu
05. Rifling Through the Lost & Found
06. A String of Weeks
07. Place, Not Just a Space

A couple of months ago, I reviewed Manchester based ambient / drone record label Decaying Spheres‘ second release – a stunning collection of tracks from some of their favourite international artists. One the standout tracks on that album was My House is Torn Down Every Evening by Eppu Kaipainen feat Embry お兄ちゃん, which I described as “… an unsettling track, in which slowly repeating electronic wailing is accompanied by desperate, terrified sobbing, and softly spoken vocals that somehow manage to be both soothing and sinister. It’s an uncomfortable listen, but a rewarding and strangely enjoyable one…”

Now, Helsinki based producer Eppu Kaipainen returns to Decaying Spheres with the release of Poiu a 60 minute ambient / drone album, that explores how music can change our perception of time.

Opening track, To See Wear Requires a Mindful Watcher, is a minimalist piece with a hypnotic pulsing beat, accompanied by haunting synth work, that shifts into something more akin to interference as the track comes to a close. It sets things up perfectly for the tracks to follow, leaving the listener feeling melancholic… and a little uneasy.

Yeardays is a slower, darker piece, with a dirty drone sound and harsher tone. It contrasts nicely with the first track – its sadder, more downbeat vibe, imbuing a sense of the daily grind that life can sometimes become.

With its acoustic guitar and the sounds of city life, Personal Clocks ft Dan Fingerman is a short and poignant piece that nevertheless provides a positive uplift of spirits before leading into the title track, Poiu – a gentle introspective track with subtle, repeating beats and faint unidentifiable sounds, meaning the listener can assign their own meaning to the soundscape as it unfolds… encouraged to reflect on their own life journey.

Rifling Through the Lost & Found is an eerie, otherworldly track, with discordant drones and distorted singing. In places, it sounds like a darker, bleaker Boards of Canada – no bad thing – and again demonstrates what an amazing job Eppu Kaipainen has done here, in conveying the sense of time passing and the ultimate frailty of life.

At the start of A String of Weeks, the synths are fairly bright and perky, but as the track unfolds, things become darker – almost menacing. And yet, throughout this piece, there is an underlying sense of optimism… maybe even hope.

Final track, Place, Not Just a Space, expertly blends drones, distorted sounds, and repeating snippets to produce another reflective piece. In the latter half of the track, the sounds work together to create a sense of rewind… a feeling that perhaps the ending approaching each of us is in fact a chance of rebirth, and a new beginning.

With PoiuEppu Kaipainen has created an astounding album of long form-drones that manages to be both challenging and rewarding to the listener. This is an album to listen to as you lie back in bed, contemplating your life and achievements to date, and considering the possibilities of the future ahead of you.

Decaying Spheres have released another impressive album, and quite simply, if you’re a fan of drone / ambient-drone, then you have to buy yourself a copy of this. Outstanding!

Written by: Rich Dodgin

Hiemal – Denali (VHS Tape) – Review

Artist: Hiemal
Album: Denali (VHS Tape)
Release date: 1 December 2020
Label: Parapsych Productions
Reviewer: Rich Dodgin

Regular readers will know that I’m huge fan of French dark ambient musician, Hiemal – his winter-themed drone ambient soundscapes always doing an amazing job of chilling me out and transporting me away from everything.

So I was thrilled when Parapsych Productions contacted us with the news that they were releasing an ambient film with music by Hiemal. Parapsych Productions describe themselves as “an occult/paranormal inspired limited run tape label for genres of blackmetal, drone/ambient, obscure field recordings, and other sound research.” Their releases are consistently high standard affairs, with gorgeous physical components that perfectly complement the music recorded on them, and Denali is no exception – arriving on a professionally dubbed black VHS tape in a plastic clam shell case, and looking utterly stunning.

So, what about the music and film themselves?

Well, musically, Denali is one of Hiemal‘s more minimalist albums, in the sense that this is all about the drone, with little or no field recordings added to the mix. But that’s no bad thing at all – the gentle synth work features subtle, gradual changes in tone, and the end result is almost hypnotic, inducing a dream like state in the listener. It’s wonderful stuff and, quite honestly, this is already one of my favourite Hiemal albums.

That said, the accompanying film takes Denali to another level entirely, adding so much more to the already impressive audio experience.  Dream like sequences of images and video clips play along with the music, giving the viewer an audio-visual treat that is simply sublime.

Throughout the course of the film, we see mountains, seas, icebergs, trees,  and scenes from outer space or television… though all are optically enhanced, filtered or corrupted in one way or another – meaning that watching the film is trippy, surreal and otherworldly.

With Denali, Hiemal and Parapsych Productions have created an absolute masterpiece, expertly fusing together beautiful drone-ambient soundscapes with a stunning ambient film. Each part is great in its own right, but together they are outstanding.

Highly recommended!

Written by: Rich Dodgin

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