I present to you my final round of Celestial Ephemerides for the year 2021 and I hope you enjoy the following Dark Ambient recordings as much as I have. I certainly wish that I had the time to give these albums a long form review but with the amount of request that I get on a daily basis and the actual time I have to spend on doing them, there just isn’t enough time in the day, week, month or year. At any rate, I hope these summary reviews will do and again…enjoy!
1. Beyond The Ghost – The Desolation Age
One of my favorite Dark Ambient artists, Beyond The Ghost is back with not only his greatest achievement yet, but a sensational recording that incorporates a magnitude of synth styles. With the deep drones in tact, he manages to include elements of synthwave, retro synth and a ton of melody to make this one of the most triumphant releases of the year. Emotional highs run rampant on tracks such as “Exodus”, “Pale Conquerers” and the piano-heavy “Slow Motion Downfall”. The Cryo Chamber label hits another home run with with valiant effort and I’m glad to see Beyond The Ghost release another effort that supersedes all expectations.
2. Max Corbacho – Nocturnes III
What an honor it is to be alive during the existence of Max Corbacho. He is a world renowned ambient artist that has no problem producing either light or dark ambient and anything in between. On Nocturnes III, he darkens the mood on his brand of bleak, yet powerful ambience. Tracks such as “Altar Of Stillness” and “Lunation Sequence” produce a celestial boundary of deep space vibes and ominous sound effects. It’s easy to get lost in these long tracks as the mesmerizing drones continue to captivate from start to finish. Another brilliant album by the Ambient Master himself.
3. Kalte – Morphology
Kalte puts the “minimal” in minimalistic with the starkly austere ‘Morphology’. Four tracks of space-like drones with the occasional soundscape that sounds like looping, industrialized textures that are sure to creep you out. “Stochastic Resonance” and “Coleoptera” are my favorite tracks on this short, thirty four minute EP. However, as a whole, this album contains epic creations that are sure to please fans of both Dark Ambient and Industrial Droning. Looking forward to hearing more from this promising artist.
4. Uburgrund – Dionelos
Uburgrund doesn’t hold back with their maniacal version of noise ambience. Harsh, looping effects and industrial-like distractions creates a whirlwind of discontent and uneasiness. However, there is a mesmerizing sensation when listening to this album as a whole that goes unmatched. Standout tracks include “Colonia De Sarcopti Din Palma (Swarm Of Another Life)” and “Trusa Iua Hinton (Rubik In Wonderland)” with endless fusillade of extreme modulations and frequency manipulations that will send the sensory glands into maximum overload. Also, at times the music seems audibly unbalanced but I think that’s another tactic that is completely relegated in this insane group of recordings. Highly recommended but listen at your own risk!
5. Cities Last Broadcast – The Umbra Report
Cities Last Broadcast always brings a warm, vibrant tone with his brand of Dark Ambience. Including loops, tape hisses and various oddities that embrace a particular twilight, you can always expect a nostalgic walk down a darkened noir path. The Umbra Report is no different, as it entwines the same smoky sentiment found on the ‘Black Stage Of Night’ and ‘Black Corner Den’ releases with Atrium Carceri. Tracks such as “Unvocal”, “Disembodied” and “Antumbra” carry the minimalistic torch while creating a spacious, articulate texture that embraces more warmth than darkness. Simply put – another brilliant album by Cities Last Broadcast!
6. Dr0ne – Nimb
Listening to Dr0ne’s ‘Nimb’ is like a complete exercise in futility. If you can make it through this one hour nightmarish drone-fest, then you can get through just about anything. With just two tracks – each almost thirty minutes long, this is like a bleak excursion like no other. These tracks slowly rip away your soul until there is nothing left but a skeleton of audial dissonance. At times, a deep plunge into darkened chambers occurs, taking the listener to cold outlets of deafening voids, while at other times, perpetual static remains consistently mesmerizing. This one is definitely worth checking out, especially if blasphemous droning is your thing.
7. Daughter Of Dawn – Crushed Into Dust By The Weight Of The World
Fans of Peter Bjärgö should not pass up on this tasty offering of blissful, folk ambient by Daughter Of Dawn. These compositions are excitedly serene, but it’s the overall melody that will heighten your emotional state and draw you in for a near thirty minute ride down a soothing atmospheric aurora. Album opener, “Juniper Boughs Collide Upon My Shores” is quick to set a euphoric mood with reverberated acoustic guitar chops and dreamy vocals. “The Liminal Space In Which I Reside” has shades of shoegaze and dream pop genres that are feverishly fused with masterful songwriting and constructive vocal harmonies. This is a fantastic album that must be heard to be believed. Don’t pass on this magical offering.
8. Alphaxone & Proto U – Back To Beyond
Alphaxone & ProtonU create a spacious, sonic atmosphere like no other. On their second collaboration effort, ‘Back to Beyond’, they produce a colossal space ambient recording that takes the listener to the far reaches of space and set them in a drifting motion that transcends the relevance of time and speed. As if floating through a galaxy of stars, a gathering of soundscapes and effects paint a galactic portrait of uncharted territories. With a mix of light and dark drones, standout tracks such as “Dreams Of Solace” and “Delusions Of Omniscience” present a space odyssey like no other. It’s always a magical occurrence when these two artists join forces and I hope this wont be the last recording of its kind.
9. Bonzaii – Death In The Cities
Bonzaii is a unique artist for the Dark Ambient genre and they successfully combine two of my favorite things on the ‘Death In The Cities’ EP, and that is emotional Melodie’s and distorted synth effects. Although both of these sound qualities are at distant ends of the musical spectrum, together they provide a monumental output that can be both soothing and terrifying. Tracks such as “Liturgy” and “Eyes In The Water” stand out with their breathtaking atmospherics and masterful arrangements. The looping synths are at times retrospective and borderline on Berlin School sequences without actually maintaining a stronghold on that style. All in all, this is top quality ambient music and recommended for those that know no boundaries when it comes to genre styles.
10. European Drought – By Ways Of Winter Past
“By Ways Of Winter Past” is a single, twenty eight minute long track of austere winter synth that catapults the listener right into the eye of a winter storm with no end in sight. This immensely minimal track is so chilling, that it can be downright alarming at times due to the notion of unknowingness around every corner. Synth effects remain absolute throughout this recording, representing the cold adventures that are experienced along the way. As the track continues, there is a sense of overwhelming chaos that takes over and deafening tones signal the downfall toward an icy oblivion. Nothing about this track will sent the mind at ease, but it will set a chilling mood for mindful atonement.
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