It’s almost mind numbing to see how great the Dark Ambient genre has not only grown, but expanded in sound. It seems as if harsh noise and industrial ambience is coming more into existence and coupling with the bleak intonations of Dark Ambient soundscapes and drones. The albums in this list represent change, growth and also homage to the influences of modern day Dark Ambient music. I hope you enjoy these summary reviews as much as I did putting them together.
1. The Owl – Beyond The Vastness Of Infinity
The Owl specialized in noise terror and monstrous modulations that are presented in a controlled chaos offering. ‘Beyond The Vastness Of Infinity’ is an improvised endeavor that plays on the decline of normalcy and the abruptness of ataxia. Rigid guitar tones set against the strident sounds of industrialized soundscapes and eerie narrations set a precedence of tonal despondency. As mesmerizing as it is turbulent, this albums is just another gem in the vast The Owl discography.
2. Aleksis Tristan Shaw – Loud Nothing
Multi-talented, multi-genre artist Aleksis Tristan Shaw, once again dabbles in the world of Dark Ambient music with the twisted oblation, ‘Loud Nothing’. Combining the forces of demented horror sounds, spacious soundscapes and drifting drones, this is a compelling story of electronic proportions. Elongated drones provide a hypnotic state while supernatural subtleties and sequences keep the listener from completely going under with hints of smoldering tension. At times, spacey, and other times downright grim, this recording is a full offering of Dark Ambient amusement and is fascinating to say the least.
3. Crepuscular Entity – Zwolf Bagatellen
‘Zwolf Bagatellen’ is an exercise in harsh frequency delivery and the chaotic amplification of audial discord. Consisting of twelve tracks of white noise, with belligerent modulations, this is a test of determination and surviving the true grit of noise ambience. Filled with abrupt soundscapes and extreme reverberation, this album is a massive overdose of music that is meant to overtake the sense and infiltrate the mind. Listen at your own risk but prepare to be amazed at the indulgence of extreme electronic music.
4. Drone Islands – Volume I / II / III
‘Drone Islands – Volume I /II / III’ is a massive collection of ambient magnificence, containing beautiful audial offerings from an array of artists. This album combines the work of all Drone Island releases to include, ‘Land Rising’, ‘The Lost Maps’ and ‘Stellar’. Some of the biggest names in the Dark Ambient community lend their services to this recording such as Ashtoreth, Kammarheit, BlackWeald, Taphephobia, Alphaxone and Infinexhuma. These types of collective albums are a real treat, as you get a cluster of unique musical achievements in a single album. This is an exemplary collection that must be heard.
5. Long The Night – Illusion
‘Illusion’ is an assemblage of beguiling drones with cinematic-like production. Although starting out with a light ambient vibe, the mood swiftly changes on track two, “Untold Mind” and a belligerent tone is thrusted into this space ambient endeavor. These songs sequentially crescendo into a mammoth-like sound and slowly fade out into oblivion before shifting to the next moment of surprising moments. There are moments that are influenced by the Warhammer 40k sound, while the majority of the album is like a dark space excursion. This is an excellent album that fits right in with some of the top names in the genre.
6. Pavor Nocturnus – Bosch
Pavor Nocturnus specializes in flowing light drones that are delivered in an obscure pallet of ominous soundscapes, torturous industrial sounds and peaceful samples and field recordings. All fused together, this is an eerily harmonious endeavor that will be pleasing to fans of multiple Dark Ambient sub-genres. ‘Bosch’ is eclectic blend of soulful modulations that don’t have a particular flow (from track to track), but works very well in the overarching concept of the album. This is an amazing recording that I cannot recommend enough.
7. Sij & Textere Oris – Reflections At The Sea
Sij & Textere Oris is one of the most fascinating Dark Ambient collaborations on the Cryo Chamber label roster. Although only having released two albums on the giant label, they are both top quality endeavors that are unique in their own way. On latest effort, ‘Reflections At The Sea’, soothing drones are met with enchanting vocal melodies and theatrical reverberations that produces a theatrical-like sound. From piano chops to random sound effects, this album is put together magnificently and will warrant multiple listens. This is definitely one not to miss.
8. Melanohelios – The Durance Machine
In my opinion, Melanohelios doesn’t put out music often enough. There is something very addictive with Melanohelios albums and I can’t quite put my finger on it. However, I can say that what you’ll get with each album is an exclusive listening experience – one just as good as the next. On ‘The Durance Machine’, there are two tracks of mind-melding drone work that lasts the better part of thirty six minutes. While listening, you’ll find yourself drifting between peaceful experiences and terrifying moments that flow together with extreme transparency. This is another alluring album from such a reclusive entity.
9. Marco Pianges – Somewhere
Dark tones and blistering keys set the backdrop for this escapade of quality electronic tracks. With a plethora of samples and soundscapes, this short album is a cacophony of aggressive moment and angst-filled resilience. The genius aspect of this album is the malevolence hidden in the peaceful details – like a field of beautiful flowers in the dead of winter. Even with just twenty minutes of playing time, this five track album is a beast to contend with and will surely please all fans of Dark Ambient music.
10. Northumbria – Isolering
If you’re a fan of Dark Ambient music, you should at least be aware of the haunting entity known as Northumbria. With a list of unrivaled albums on the Cryo Chamber label, the stringed duo often ventures out independently and continues to produce quality ambience. On 2021’s ‘Isolering’, we’re presented with four ominous tracks containing nearly seventy five minutes worth of mesmerizing intonations. These extended efforts take the listener down a blackened path and instill a relentless blend of lethargic tones and reverberated modulations that are simply paralyzing. In my opinion, this is one of their best efforts and the mood that it sets is quite compelling.
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