Music with a unique purpose or common theme tends to be right up my alley. Despite the genre, I always tend to lend my ears to conceptual albums, as the stories tend to be as intriguing as the music. Most of my conceptual music entertainment tends to come from rock and metal bands such as Yes, King Diamond and Carach Angren. However, over the years, as my love for Dungeon Synth and Dark Ambient grew, I realized that although there weren’t necessarily an exclusive number of concept albums, many albums revolve around a specific topic or theme, sprouting an increased imagination while listening to music from both of these genres. More so in the Dark Ambient genre, concept albums are more prominent, as the depth and darkness of the music creates an atmospheric universe to picture everything the artist is trying to convey. That’s exactly the case with the latest release from Blackweald called ‘Leonov’. A thirty seven minute dark space adventure that pays tribute to Alexei Leonov, the first cosmonaut to ever conduct a spacewalk. Although broken up into eight tracks, this is a single, seamless piece that puts the listener right in the heart of this milestone mission.
To begin this historic achievement, album opener “Korolev, Glavny Konstruktor” starts with a short Russian language narrative as deep, airy drones launch this track into the atmosphere. Layers of whirr and synth effects courageously build as if trying to outdo the noise level of the other. Then, it quietly fades away into the next track, “Grechko, Космонавт 34”. Mostly made up of subtle nuances and effects, these are the final minutes and checks that Leonov are going through as he prepares for launch. “196503180700000” begins just as the previous track ended. There is a short music sample that plays just before the launch sequence, reminding Leonov of home one last time before departing Earth. At the end of the launch sequence, various sonic noises can be heard, releasing a cosmic energy into the air. The next track, “_” consist of bizarre, screeching noises and profound drones as if Leonov’s spacecraft has successfully passed Max-Q and is well on his way to the confines of space. With the jettison of booster rockets and exterior noise at a minimum, only the ticks and alarms of internal equipment can be heard – which is what this track may portray. Random noises and distant signals assist the Cosmonaut with guidance and trajectory as he heads toward his rendezvous point. As he gets deeper into orbit, the mesmerizing drones become more prominent and overbearing, taking center stage of any sound effects that may have been heard previously. “Foothold In The Heavens” contains additional narratives as Leonov prepares for his spacewalk. The menacing drone in the beginning is soon joined by a spacious synth tone to add an infinite dimension. However toward the end of the track, the drones turn into malevolent sounds of evil with hints of heavy breathing in the foreground. “Walk On Home, Boy!” Is an ethereal track with the sounds of a heartbeat in the beginning. These are the climactic accents of the compelling spacewalk in the purview of open space. From buzzes to crackling noises and engine sounds, these are the only comforting subtleties for the Cosmonaut looking to make history and this track perfectly provides the setting and feeing that must have been during that anxious time. “Upper Kama Upland” contains more bizarre twists and noises with looping drones in the background. A sample of a Morse code audio capture reveals a voiceless communication between Earth and the Cosmonaut. About halfway through, wind effects are added with high-frequency drones that shift in modulation with every loop. As the wind sounds fade, cosmic keys play a melodic dirge and the track ends with a classic song sample from yesteryear. The final track on the album, “Ivanna//Malfunction” is a bass heavy track with no shortage of drones and eerie effects either. Inaudible narration samples can be heard, as if something has gone wrong and at the same time synth keys fluctuate from low to high volume and then drift back off again. This repeats through the duration of the song and finally in the end, a deep droning tone plays one final note to send the album out on an frightening ending.
‘Leonov’ is Blackweald’s most mature and adventurous effort to date. Not only did the artist pay a proper homage to the historic ventures of Russian Cosmonaut, Alexei Leonov, but the production of the colossal drones, mission control narratives and synth effects seem impeccable and pristine. If you’re a fan of deep space dark ambient with narrations and otherworldly samples, then you’ll love Blackweald’s ‘Leonov’. Please download this album by clicking on the link below and support this monumental artist.
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