Every time I listen to a Dark Ambient recording, I hear it as a soundtrack to a particular moment in time. Whether its from a horrific era that has passed, an ominous & futuristic existence that has yet to happen, or the treacherous present that continues to unfold before our very eyes right now, this genre excels at bringing out the most emotional state of our being in order to imagine such scenarios and how humanity has evolved (or continues to evolve). On ‘Heart Like An Empty Coffin’, Beyond The Below covers each of those era’s by using intelligent field recordings, well-crafted piano arrangements, and modest use of long-form drones to create a unique sound that can be identified with a specific aeon. That’s not to say that there are several distinct sounds on this recording, it just means that Beyond The Below has a keen ear for sounds that expand the epoch of time. Let’s dive into this extraordinary recording.
Engaging album opener, “Downpour”, starts with a menacing piano note that embeds its presence in the conscious by its continual mesmerizing play. Scorching synth frequencies create an unnerving expanse as the field recordings start to filter in. The time setting seems to take the listener from a not-so-distant past to a near-distant apocalyptic future. More beautiful piano notes play over evaporating synth drones as the song comes to an abrupt end. “Kill The Past” begins with haunting piano melodies and distorted field recordings, creating a very bleak atmosphere. Majestic synth arrangements are introduced, establishing a smooth tone, while cosmic sound effects randomly break through as if introduced from a futuristic time portal. “Cleansing The Cursed” starts with night time sound effect, then the abrupt breakthrough of piano notes and industrial synths real havoc as if providing the score for a horror movie. “Solitudinous” features the looping hiss of antique recording techniques as retro-wave keys influence a time where industrial wastelands ruled the earth, and bands of outlaws protected its natural resources from other groups. Although one of the shorter tracks on the album, this one stands out as one of my favorites. “Creatures Sing At Night” is one of the creepiest songs on the album, as the opening elements feature obscure vocals and deep piano notes. The constant inaudible field recording in the background is enough to bring on additional anxiety. “Ghosts Of The Sun” has some of the best piano melody on the album and the echo effect really sets this track in high gear. The warm drones in the background, offer a safe haven for the imagination as this track is calming, while offering bits of discordant harmony. “Love Once Lost” starts with a synth tone that sounds like a submarine sonar. As this sequence continues to play, industrial synths are layered in, as well as additional sound effects that creates a sense of angst. The final track on the album, “Darkness Speaks”, wastes no time creating ominous sounds as harsh industrial frequencies and beautiful piano notes collide in absolute harmony. After several minutes of alluring synth overlays, the track transitions into an industrialized nightmare filled with dissonant sounds and a short blast of nightmarish vocals. Such an ideal way to end this fantastic album.
Beyond The Below take a more theatrical approach to Dark Ambient than a lot of other artist. Shedding the constant, enduring drones and epic track lengths for shorter, cinematic structured tunes that contain a variety of instrumentation and styles, ‘Heart Like An Empty Coffin’ is an enigmatic album that will appeal to a wide variety of music listeners. I highly recommend checking this one out, so please click on the link below and add this gem to your collection.
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