As with any genre of music, there is a wide variety of flavors to choose from even in the dark ambient arena. Whether it’s the cold, isolated drones of space ambient; ominous, ceremonial vibes of ritualistic black ambient or the harsh soundscapes that infiltrate the airwaves in industrial ambient, there is always something to appeal to a particular mood. Colonial Skyway takes us down a different path with an equal balance of warm and cold ambient vibes, heavily influenced by the Midwestern landscape and character. The output is a minimalistic and bleak recording that is heavy on atmospheric and transparent drones that are trance-inductive and perfect for the meditative practice. On the latest album, ‘Landline’, the listener is taken on a spiritual journey in which the mental excursion is self-induced, yet magnified by the listening experience.
The album begins with the sincere and barren, “Data Over Iowa”. The hiss and crackles of tape loops flourish lightly in the background while light winds and diverse soundscapes contemplate in a cycled pattern. Somber keyboard tones are introduced as another element to the mix vice as a standout instrument, adding to the depth and meaning of this track. “Overnight” is a bold statement on the album as it is an eleven minute continual drone that doesn’t contain any additional instrumentation, soundscapes or field recordings. When you put in perspective the song title and it’s style, it all makes sense. If the listener sits back and lets this track take them away to another encounter, then the perpetuity begins to come together. Next up is my favorite venture on the album, “Could Be Down”. Featuring cold atmospherics and bleak soundscapes, this is one of the darker experiences this album. Deep tonal synths sway with high and low modulations, perpetuating a feeling of solitude and malevolence. While enjoying the apocalyptic feeling of this recording, it’s astonishing to know that this ten minute track seems to pass by so quickly. “Calling Merrytown” is another dismal piece that could easily be in a horror film sequence, at the point where viewer anxiety has reached it maximum level, and just before a climactic and violent sequence takes place. However, for the theme of this recording, I can imagine traveling through a deserted town where the infrastructure has all but rotted or collapsed, with weeds growing through every crack in the roadways and sidewalks and vines creeping up everything that remains vertical. Even without the help of a deep drone, the consistent looping of the discordant keyboard chops are enough to keep the shock value in tact. “Subdivision” starts with a warm drone, as if the clear sky of the early morning dawn radiates on the horizon. I can imagine driving down a long empty highway, listening to this track while (in unison) the sunrise slowly comes into view. The final song on the album is “Town And Country”. With the faint sounds of (what could be) a train soaring by, howling keyboard effects provide a shining light to end this amazing album. The elongated keys drone systematically throughout most of the track fading softly into the final few minutes that end in the same fashion as it began.
Colonial Skyway have put together an immaculate recording of expertly crafted dark ambient material. The use of field recordings, soundscapes and overbearing deep drones are used sparingly and in proper taste. However, that has all been replaced with long, intelligent drones and keyboard use, that is full of emotion and mid-west landscape influences. For me, this is the perfect meditative album for sleeping and even complementing thought patterns while working or just trying to relax. I highly recommend checking out ‘Landline’ so please support this fascinating artist by downing the album from the link below.
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