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 link next to each review (or by clicking on the BNDCMPR link at the bottom of the page), and please consider supporting the featured artists. Enjoy!
Atrium Carceri & Kammarheit – Apparatus
Cryo Chamber continues to be the genre leading label for atmospheric soundscape dark ambient, and Apparatus, the latest release from Atrium Carceri & Kammarheit, is yet another stunning piece of audio excellence. With analogue tape reels, haunting electronics, pulsating basslines and massive reverbs, this is an incredible listening experience best listened to on headphones in a darkened room. If you like cinematic dark ambient then this is an absolute must have. Seriously impressive stuff!
Dronny Darko & ProtoU – Acoustics of Shadows
Also on the Cryo Chamber label is Acoustics of Shadows, the new release from Dronny Darko & ProtoU – a gorgeous drone ambient album full of layered textures and otherworldly soundscapes. Striking the balance perfectly between a sense of calm and feelings of disquiet, this is a warm and dreamy album that offers something different each and every time you listen to it. I’ve had this on repeat play since I first heard it, and it just keeps getting better and better. Simply wonderful!
System Exile – New Innsmouth
I’m a huge fan of The Shadow Over Innsmouth (the 1931 horror novella by American author H.P. Lovecraft) and for quite a while now I’ve been looking for a dark ambient album that captures the mood of the book. Well, my search is over – New Innsmouth by System Exile is the perfect soundtrack to the novel. With an underlying sense of menace, and haunting drones paired with subtly added field recordings, this is a truly impressive album. On the strength of this album, I will also be checking out other releases from System Exile, and I suggest you do the same. Awesome!
The Deep Bleed – Machines That Search for God
I’m a huge fan of Inner Demons Records (IDR), who describe themselves as “a transparent, artist-owned, liberal / left-wing, d.i.y., experimental music and noise label” – with each and every one of their releases offering something new and exciting to explore. The latest to grab my attention is Machines That Search for God by The Deep Bleed – a 2 track EP of industrial-tinged experimental drone and pulsing noise-scapes that is captivating from start to finish. Highly recommended for those who like their albums with an attitude and edge!
Akoustik Timbre Frekuency – Namu Myoho Renge Kyo
I’ve been a big fan of Akoustik Timbre Frekuency for quite a while now, so I was thrilled when I learned he had another release on the way! Namu Myoho Renge Kyo is an album of shamanic ritual dark ambient, providing an incredible soundtrack for meditation, reflection, and consideration. As usual with releases on the Sombre Soniks label, the production quality is of the highest order, and this is one of those albums to lose yourself too as you lie back, and contemplate your path to enlightenment. Stunning!
Lazharus – Scorn Zone
Now this is very cool! An album of dark ambient / drone / doom, by experimental metal duo Lazharus on which they experiment with electronic sounds, drum machines and synthesizers to create something very special indeed! The 2 tracks from this album have been stuck in my head since I first heard them, and I cannot wait to see what Lazharus do next – because this is seriously good stuff that will appeal to those looking for something that isn’t afraid to try something new, while retaining a coherent sound and mood. Wonderful!
IO – The Unicorn at the Fountain
Brazilian sound and visual artist IO continues to release albums of the highest quality – their music encompassing dark ambient, dark industrial drones, and other cinematic sound elements to create deep and textured ethereal soundscapes. Inspired by the series of seven tapestries known as “The Hunt of the Unicorn” or the “Unicorn Tapestries“, this is another exceptional album featuring gorgeous 5 tracks of dark ambient with goth-like undertones. Beautiful!
Noise Hangover – The End of Everything
With a name like Noise Hangover, you know what to expect from their latest release The End of Everything. The music here is aggressive and harsh, with discordant drone sounds and machine like glitches skilfully combined together to create an audio experience like no other. This is far from easy listening, but that’s the point – this is music designed to grab you by the throat right from the off and not let go. It’s refreshing and powerful stuff, and a definite must have for fans of the noisier side of the genre!
Richard Bégin – Lavrador
New from the ever awesome Reverse Alignment label is Lavrador by Richard Bégin – an album inspired by the polar and subarctic expanse of Labrador, a continental region in eastern Canada. Each track on this remarkable album “seeks to convey the essence of an ecology simultaneously fragile, merciless, and sublime” – combining drones, synths, and field recordings to create deep and textured music that is quite simply breath-taking. This is is one of those albums that is stunning from start to finish. Very highly recommended for those who like a sense of solitude and introspection in their music. Magnificent!
Various Artists – Witchcraft And Black Magic In The United States
Developed from a personal interest in American witchcraft, this latest release on the Eighth Tower Records label sees Rafaele Pezzella bring together a range of talented musicians together to create an album of deliciously dark ambient, drone and experimental electronic music designed to transport listeners into the captivating realms inspired by the witchcraft and black magic in the United States. With each and every track offering something special, this is an album well worth checking out if you are looking to discover some new talented musicians within the the genre. Gorgeous!
Fabio Keiner – Battle Hymn
Another release on the Inner Demons Records label, Battle Hymn is Fabio Keiner‘s rendition of the same named American patriotic song written by abolitionist writer Julia Ward Howe during the American Civil War. These 3 tracks are haunting, experimental pieces, with each offering something a little different, but fitting together perfectly to provide a cohesive listening experience. This is moody, dark and unnerving music, with undertones of introspection and melancholy. Very highly recommended.
The Black Monolith – End And Beginning Are Dreams
End And Beginning Are Dreams – the latest album from Greek dark ambient / drone musician The Black Monolith – is “an immersive musical ritual inspired by Thelema and the esoteric realms of Enochian magic“. This music here is dark and brooding, with a real sense of the otherworldly – invoking primal energies and the spirits of the void. This is a must have for fans of ritual dark ambient and music with an eerie or haunting feel to them. Simply stunning!
Monovoth – Pleroma Mortem Est
Monovoth‘s latest release is an album of wonderful drone / funeral doom – combining elements of the dark ambient and metal genres to produce something truly unique. Yes, this isn’t pure dark ambient, but this is gorgeously dark music that has skilfully created elements of drone and dark ambient contained within it – and the resulting audio journey this album creates is one that will most definitely appeal to those who enjoy dark and brooding music, regardless of the genre. On the basis of this album, I will certainly be checking out the other releases from this Argentinian, one-man instrumental doom / drone metal project – you should too!
P.U.M.A. – Red Winter
P.U.M.A. is a project of sound artist Luca Valisi with contributions from Monica Calanni Rindina, and here they explore various types of “musique concrete” and drone. Utilising synths, field recordings, echoing voices, sequencing, and a large degree of audio processing, the resulting album contains elements of dark ambient, drone, and electro-noise. This is quite simply breath-taking, with each play of the album providing an incredible listening experience of the highest order. One for fans of haunting, ethereal music with an electronic edge. Fantastic stuff!
The Tapes – A Touch of Despair
Oh wow. A Touch of Despair was recorded in 1986, on a standard 2-track cassette recorder, using a 4-channel Fostex mixer (the infamous “echo unit”), a Korg MS-20, and toy instruments. The album has now been remastered and re-released, and is well worth checking out – the music may be almost 40 years old, but it sounds as fresh and exciting as anything being released today, with it’s analogue tones and strange other-worldliness creating a haunting listening experience that is deep and multi-layered and dream-like in nature. Absolutely stunning!
secret places of the lion – Hex
Hex, the latest release from secret places of the lion, is an album of experimental guitar based drone / ambient, that combines elements of hedonism, the occult, and psychedelia to produce an album that manages to sound both familiar, and completely new and original at the same time. Strictly speaking, this isn’t dark ambient, but there are definitive dark ambient and drone influences at play here, and for those who are willing to try something new, this album offers a very rewarding listening experience that will stay with you long after the album has finished. Very highly recommended!
Ceremonial Abyss – Betrayal
The new album from Ceremonial Abyss is another exceptional release of dark, minimal, electronica. The description states that “It’s a love story that slits its own throat, but it’s not a story at all. It’s your life. Your heart beats as a reminder of the beating you’ve taken…” That does a wonderful job of telling you what to expect from this album – music that is poignant, melancholic, and tragic in nature, with a heartfelt tone and mood. This is one of those albums that will touch you and stay with you long after you’ve finished playing it. Beautiful.
VVAA – Rituals from Ancient Europe
This 8 track compilation of ritual dark ambient is an incredibly impressive debut album on the Ominous Sounds label, featuring talented musicians from countries such as Germany, Belgium, Spain, Poland, United Kingdom, Scotland, Malta and Portugal. Each contributed track has something special and different to offer, and yet the album hangs together as a whole – testament to the great work of Hiemis who curated the album. Ominous Sounds is definitely a label to keep an eye on – I can’t wait to see what they release next!
Scott Lawlor – in Brief Agonies of Disillusionment
As regular readers will know, I’m a huge fan of the music of Scott Lawlor – each and every one of his albums is always of the highest quality, and it’s clear that Scott is very passionate about what he does. His latest release, in Brief Agonies of Disillusionment, is an incredible 3 hours and 20 minutes long (!) and is a wonderful piece of atmospheric space ambient / dark ambient / drone. The is an album that I’ve found perfect for both meditating to, and for drifting off to sleep at the end of a long hard day. Simply gorgeous.
Click on the below image to go to this month’s This is Darkness playlist on BNDCMPR, which features 1 track from each of the above albums: