I don’t usually start my reviews by discussing my opinion of album art, however, I think artwork is an intricate part of the listening experience, especially for the dark ambient genre. For me, when listening to dark ambient, the emotional experience is just as important as the music itself, because it free’s your mind without limitations and allows you to drift off into experiences that you may not be able to encounter in a lifetime. The cover art is equally important because it gives you a first impression of the experience at hand. When I first saw the artwork for Regen Grave’s latest album, ‘Herbstlicht’, I was mesmerized by the desolation and despondency caught in a single image. The gloomy weather, old buildings and empty streets paint a harrowing story of something menacing that could have happened during that time period. Although herbstlicht is German for Autumn Light, this cover depicts a particular dismal coldness that could have a reverse meaning. Musically, ‘Herbstlicht’ is chilling dark ambient with a vintage tone that could very be the soundtrack for what is happening in the album art. That’s why the entanglement of artwork and music is so important.
Eerie album opener, “Das Morgengrauen” begins with a low end bass drone that pushes the frequency spectrum with its tonal distortion. Also featuring some space ambient atmospherics, the high pitched synth effects randomly penetrate the atmosphere with discord of sounds and noises. “Leere Straßen” starts with an unearthly presence of layered synth sounds that have a dark, ubiquitous vibe. Horror-like keys play a dim melody, adding a sense of frenzied commotion. “Der Erste Schnee” introduces a narrative recording on top of spacious drones, creating an chilling, yet chaotic atmosphere. With a track length of nearly thirteen minutes long, this epic adventure takes the listener through various stages of obscurity. “Besuch” presents horrifying sound effects with inaudible narrations as if a warning message is broadcasting to an abandoned community after a tragic event has occurred. As the warning continues to play, low end frequencies and field recording mesh together to yield terrible uncertainty. “Zersetzung” features percussive elements and melodic keyboard tones in a short, apocalyptic number that sets the stage for the final track. “Rote Blätter” is an eleven and a half minute long track full of demise and oblivion. The synth effects have an abeyance-like nature to them while intermittent intonations seem more strident as the song continues.
Regen Graves epitomizes excellence when it comes to bizarre tones and spacey drones. The minimal use of field recordings and spacey narrations work perfectly with these tracks as they present a graphic story that may be depicted in the cover art. ‘Herbstlicht’ is a very impressive recording that not only has a vintage sound, but also represents the dark ambient genre with superb integrity. Please support this incredible artist and download the album from the link below.
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