This year has been an amazing year for the dark ambient community. Not only have we heard incredible releases by both independent and well known artists, but there has been an overwhelming dynamic of collaboration releases as well. Some of my favorite collaboration albums thus far have been the terrifying, polar ambient release by Ugasanie & Dronny Darko called ‘Arctic Gate’, the futuristic sonic assault by Dronny Darko & RNGMNN called ‘Sector Hydra’, the dark chamber sounds of Atrium Carceri & Cities Last Broadcast on ‘Black Stage Of Night’ and the claustrophobic droning sounds of ‘Symphony Of Dying’ by SÁDON & Treha Sektori. However, when an artist releases an album and assembles a renowned & talented group of dark ambient artists to collaborate on each track, it’s sure to garner some immediate attention. That’s exactly what Italian dark ambient artist Alessio Antoni has done with his project, Neraterræ. On his debut album, ‘The Substance Of Perception’, artists such as Xerxes The Dark, Ugasanie, Flowers For Bodysnatchers, and Alexey Tegin from Phurpa (just to name a few), lend their talents to take this recording to extreme heights and fill all the voids that are left open in the confined drones of each track. This results in not only a prodigious collaboration album, but one of the best dark ambient recordings of the year.
The albums spectacular lead off track, “Shadows Of Regret (feat. Northaunt)” begins with a soothing rain shower field recording layered with dreamy key arrangements. Spoken word narrations and deep droning soon takes over to alter the dynamics of the song while it consistently puts the listener in a hypnotic state. The sound level increases as each drone pad migrated to the next and then they wind down to an ending narration. “To Reveal The Unseen (feat. Alexey Tegin from Phurpa)” is one of my favorite songs on the album. There is something about combining dark ambient and meditative BON chanting that magnifies and intensified the listening experience for me. Although the droning elements are simple, yet effective on this track, it’s the terrifying chanting of Alexey Tegin that solidifies the evil sounds of this recording. I could seriously listen to a whole album of this! “Becoming The Nightmare (feat. New Risen Throne & Treha Sektori)” continues with some of the elements of the previous track but in a more dark industrial way. Instead of chanting, there are some malevolent whispering vocals that are spine chilling! The terrifying soundscapes are enough to put the listener in a state of madness, as if they are enclosed in an industrial wasteland with no way of escape. This is also the longest track on the album, so there is plenty of time to submerge into the realm of this massive recording. “The Wicked Pulse Of Conscience (feat. Taphephobia & Infinexhuma)” is a depressive dive into gloomy soundscapes and impulsive field recordings. As the pads drone on and take the listener to a deeper state of relaxation and abjection, melodious keys infiltrate the airwaves as if light is trying to pierce through the abundant cloud coverage. However, it is apparent by the end of the song that the clouds are impenetrable by any light sources or emotions that match them. “That Which Shall Not Be Witnessed (feat. Xerxes The Dark & Treha Sektori)” is my other favorite track on the album. The minimalist drones and bizarre pad arrangements combined with industrial-like soundscapes and more haunting whispering, gives a frightening sensation when digesting this one in a dark setting. These are all of the elements that make for a perfect dark ambient track and they are arranged immaculately. “Beyond (feat. Ugasanie)” is everything I expected it to be, especially since Ugasanie is providing his unique polar ambient input. Very minimalistic and creepy, just the way dark ambient was meant to sound. The final track on the album is “Echoing Scars (feat. Flowers For Bodysnatchers)”. What a stunning way to end such a dark and adventurous album. Although there are some disturbing droning sounds inhabiting the whole song, it’s the exhilarating acoustic piano work of Flowers For Bodysnatchers that makes this track gnaw at your senses. Although it’s gloomy and disturbing, it’s also beautiful and peaceful as well.
Alessio Antoni has created a near flawless dark ambient recording with his Neraterræ project. With the various collaboration efforts on each track, there is enough contrasting material to manipulate your senses in many directions, yet Alessio does an impressive job keeping everything composed in a way that it progresses without hesitation. From the production, musical arrangements, field recordings and soundscapes to the well represented album cover, ‘The Substance Of Perception’ has everything you need in a single dark ambient album. With this definitely being in my top five favorite dark ambient recordings of 2019, I highly recommend checking this album out right away. Please support Neraterræ by downloading the album at the link below.
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