Tasos Fotiou & Dimitris Korontzis Embark On An Improvised, Free-form Jazz Induced Journey With The Aberrant ‘Time Lapse’ Session.

For me, improvised music is some of the most entertaining music that I’ve ever heard. Despite the genre, when an artist has the ability to play, perform and record impressive music on a whim, it tends to catch (and hold) my attention more than written and rehearsed music. I first fell in love with improvisations back in the early 90’s with the works of the multi-talented musician, John Zorn. A saxophonist by trade, John Zorn crossed the boundaries of many genres such as metal, punk, hardcore, grindcore, fusion jazz and avant-garde. Of his hundreds of albums, many of them were improvisational collaborations with the likes of talented artists such as Bill Frisell, Bill Laswell, Yamataka Eye & Mike Patton. I credit this scene for opening my eyes (and ears) to a wide variety of genres of music and appreciate for the artistic value of their craft. Fast forward to now, there are new artists on the scene that continue to carry that improvisation torch and do it well. Enter Dimitris Korontzis (guitar) and Tasos Fotiou (saxophone), a pair of musicians from Greece that are masters of their instruments and impressively construct improvisations with ease. Their monumental album, ‘Time Lapse’, is a thirty one minute improv session that tests each musicians skill and determination to create a compelling story of transitioning through time and space.

Consisting of six tracks, all which are named “Time Lapse Pt. 1 – Pt. 6”, this is hardly a single track just broken down into smaller sections. These tracks are individualistic in idea and expression but wondrously flow together in a seamless manner. The album opens with a beautiful ambient guitar tone that provides a calming drone. As discordant picking starts to take place, long-winded saxophone notes arrive and displace the arrangement, showing the first sign of many excellent improvised moments on this recording. Pt. 2 begins with a classic jazz moment and then a groovy guitar riff joins in. At this moment, I hear influences of the great Miles Davis, during his fusion jazz movement of the early 70’s. Pt. 3 has some bizarre arrangements that features excellent guitar work and greatly distorted saxophone notes that are especially creepy. By the time we make it to Pt. 4, a heavy ambient influence can be heard and the sound of deranged instruments playing in multiple tracks sound especially eerie. This continues into Pt. 5 as it seem there is no end in sight for the conglomerate of sound effects that have taken over the recording. However, the basic guitar and saxophone tracks are predominant and finally make their way back to the forefront toward the end of the track. When Pt. 6 starts playing, the craziness fades away and a nice saxophone solo part dominates the majority of the track. By the time the guitar joins in, its more of an ambient arrangement, providing a refreshing sound for closing out this thoroughly impressive album.

‘Time Lapse’ is a very enjoyable album that reminds me a lot of my favorite artists from many years ago that influenced me to listen to a wide variety of music. It’s improvisations like this that show the heart and skill of a musician and it happens to be right up my alley. Tasos Fotiou and Dimitris Korontzis pull out all the stops on this one and their skills and patience are put to the test as they deliver an album that is definitely worth checking out. When it comes to music and if you’re as open minded as I am, I highly recommend downloading ‘Time Lapse’ from the link below.

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Links:

https://dimitriskorontzis.bandcamp.com/album/time-lapse

Edging Both Dungeon Synth & Dark Ambient, Morgoth’s Ring Deliver Two Sinister Hymns On ‘Where Stars Are As Feral As The Prowling Wolf Upon The Hyperboreal Heath Of The Cosmos’

If I were to take a guess, I’d say that if you’re reading this, you’re probably also a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord Of The Rings” books (and/or movies) and everything else that falls within that universe. You’re probably also familiar with Morgoth – the black enemy of the world and the one who thwarted his power unto Arda, making middle-earth (as a whole) become known as Morgoth’s Ring. That malicious intent has crossed over to another Morgoth’s Ring, this time in the form of an ambient driven dungeon synth project. With two ominous tracks totaling over thirty four minutes of playing time, there is captivating songwriting on display here that is equal parts malevolence and cinematic glory. The album, ‘Where Stars Are As Feral As The Prowling Wolf Upon The Hyperboreal Heath Of The Cosmos’, is a daring fantasy adventure in which there is peace & bloodshed, as well as good and evil.

The first track is a sixteen minute, three-sectional opus called “Mystic Flamberge | Tempestuous Witching Inferno | Shadow Garland”. Beginning with a beautiful orchestrations, as if the opening credits of a fantasy movie explores the vast snow-capped mountains and deep wintry valleys of a mystical kingdom as it’s people enjoy peace and tranquility on any given day. However, a great storm rages on in the distance – unheard of by many – but will cause great devastation for those that are unprepared for battle. As the second part of the song enters, field recordings of remote storms signal the beginning of danger, and the kingdom prepares to launch an offensive while the commoners seek shelter. Long, droning (but symphonic) keys play melodic tones while eerie sound effects are sequenced in the mix to change the vibe to a more gloomy impression. Deep, meditative, spoken words begin to infiltrate the speakers, although they are barely audible. The adventure is at its maximum frightful level right now. However, the last three minutes of the track morph into a wonderful fantasy synth orchestration with a cinematic-worthy arrangement. The second and final track on the album is the eighteen plus minute long thriller, “Master Of Countless Terrible Legions | -.. .. . .- .-.. —- -. .”. Starting with a harrowing adventure-like tune that would sound right at home on a fantasy/adventure movie soundtrack, the grim, somber sounds work impartially to calm the savage reign of terror that may be imminent as well as provide a sense of agitated aggression due to its deep, droning echoing frequencies from the abyss. At around the six minute mark, the song proceeds down a malevolent path as supernatural sounds protrude as if you’re making your way through a haunted realm filled with evil, enchanted spirits. The last seven minutes of this song change direction once again into a more fantasy/forest synth arrangement. Although peaceful in tone, it has a bleak and dark sound too it. Even though this portion of the song title is written in Morse Code, it stands for Die Alone, and the emotion I get from the music is very reminiscent of loneliness and despair. What a beautiful way to end such a caliginous album.

Morgoth’s Ring is an exceptional up-and-coming dungeon synth artist that takes the cinematic structure to a new level. Mixing a variety of genres to create a legendary adventure – not only musically but for the imagination – this is one album that I plan to have on repeat for a long time. It meets my personal criteria for a great recording and the entertainment value is through the roof. I cannot wait to hear more from Morgoth’s Ring, but in the meantime, I highly recommend adding this one to your collection by downloading it from the link below. You will not be disappointed!

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Links:

https://morgothsring.bandcamp.com/releases

Sumatran Black Takes Us On A Doomed, Deep Space Quest With ‘Elegy For A Lost Cosmonaut’ EP

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a great space ambient recording so saying that Sumatran Black’s latest EP, ‘Elegy For A Lost Cosmonaut’ is out of this world (no pun intended) is a huge understatement. Consisting of three cosmic tales that takes us on an ill-fated mission through the voids of deep space, this is one trip that is filled with atmospheric drones, planetary keys & synths, and an unavoidable race through the universe that warrants no return. The grim album cover resembles an old Soviet Union astronaut that may be in a distressed situation, in which the music from this EP provides the perfect soundtrack to his grisly fate.

The opening track, “The Mission”, is a soft, textured drone that really tells a compelling story of the cosmonaut that is bound for the outer realm of the universe, but unbeknownst to him, will never reach his destiny. As various keys and pads sway in and out of the mix, subtle details of random noises can be heard as if some sort of mechanical failure has weakened his spacecraft, causing him to abort his mission. Unfortunately, it’s too late as his spacecraft is mechanically unstable and unable to return to Earth. Toward the end of the track, the bleak tones of the synths and pads become less stable and present an agonizing sound, signaling that the end of the cosmonaut may be near. “Is This Heaven” is the shortest track of the three but wastes no time in offering a multitude of discordant vibes that fade in and out like a broken spacecraft passing through nebulas – and various other space anomalies – at a breakneck pace, even though everything appears to be in slow motion for the cosmonaut that is still in shock from the events that have unfolded before him. “Elegy For A Lost Cosmonaut” is the final song on this EP and it represents the cosmonauts acceptance of being eternally vanished from Earth. These long, drawn out spacey drones are unique in that the tones suddenly elevate and then dissolves out every so often. This must be the cosmonaut getting down to the final levels of oxygen as he fades in and out of consciousness. In the end, deep space wins and the cosmonaut takes his last breath as the song abates out for good.

Even though this is a relatively short EP with just three tracks, Sumatran Black have created a very unique experience that is memorable, unique, and with a great theme. As I sit back, close my eyes, and listen to this album, I envision the events unfolding just as I have described them above. That’s the power and beauty of dark ambient music – to tell a story without words and vocals and allow the listener to imagine the scenario taking place. Please support this exceptional artist and download this spectacular cosmic adventure from the link below.

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Links:

https://sumatranblack.bandcamp.com/album/elegy-for-a-lost-cosmonaut-e-p

Black Box Memories Explore Celestial Requiems That Permeate With Casual Spoken Word Banter On ‘Missing Heart Pieces’

Probably my favorite element of ambient music in general is the creative vision put forth by the artists to conceive something that is not only unique, but also personable that represents their state of mind at a particular given time. A good example of that would be the ever evolving music adventure of Black Box Memories. Although the debut album’s music more bordered dark ambient with elements of space ambient, sophomore effort ‘Missing Heart Pieces’ has a more down-to-earth nostalgic feeling with a huge focus on interwoven spoken word recordings. The result is a high-resolution ambient album that is full of empathy and dedicated to personal alienation.

Consisting of fourteen tracks that extend over eighty minutes of playing time, there is a lot of music to get aquatinted to on this recording. The album opener, “Details” begins with a mesmerizing keyboard loop and an immediate introduction to the first bit of spoken word dialog. The discussion consists of a one-sided conversation about someone’s travel plans, as if they are unsure about their final destination. As the keyboard loop continues to play, various drone melodies create a welcoming sound but at the same time institute a desolate feeling. Skipping a few tracks, we find the grandiose “First Experiences”. It slowly fades in to a cinematic style keyboard arrangement with hardly audible spoken word samples. The trance-like quality of this song assures its gloominess and the inclusion of soft piano adds a particularly eerie feeling as well. Another stunning track is “Dreaming Of Suburbia”. The dark ambient loops provide a calming attribute, while the random conversation that is included repeats over and over again, as if there is a deep meaning in the message that the narrator is trying to convey to her listener. Harrowing synthesized pads also give an overwhelming sensation of a wide-open space that has limitless boundaries for endless exploration. My favorite song on the album and one of the darker ones is called “The Eye”. The spoken word dialog seems to be that of a professor giving a valuable lesson on the inner workings of the eye, but vaguely explaining it in metaphors. However, the standout element of this track is the music itself. With a mix of ambient and 80’s style synth wave, this song has a very exclusive quality as compare to the dynamics of the rest of the album. Skipping a few more tracks, we have “The Death Of Newt”. Although this is one of the shorter tracks on the album, it takes on another uncommon approach as there is no dialog, and features a magnetic tape-like sound quality. Just another fine example of the high recording standard that Black Box Memories has set for this album. As we cut down to the last song on the album, “Dust”, the first thing that you’ll notice is the epic twelve plus minute time length. Starting with a peaceful acoustic guitar riff, it soon shifts to synth wave arrangement that is full of spirit and anticipation, as if you’re listing to a piece from the ‘Stranger Things Soundtrack’. Large-scale keys randomly fade in and out as if providing both melody and drama. This keeps up at a feverish pace for the majority of the song and the fades into a discordant piano arrangement that is extremely creepy.

I absolutely love these kind of recordings, as they provide enough diversity to occupy your audial senses as well as keep your imagination sharp and focused so that you can dwell on the despondent album theme. The looping, spoken word element is a feature that works really well with this genre and I wish more artist would use them. So, if you’re looking to diversify your ambient catalog, as well as wanting to reward yourself with some excellent music, look no further than ‘Missing Heat Pieces’ by Black Box Memories. Please support this incredibly talented artist by downloading this album from the link below.

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Links:

https://sumatranblack.bandcamp.com/album/missing-heart-pieces

The Grim Sounds Of Nature & Inner-City Solitude Thrive On Robert Eggplant’s Debut Album, ‘Amalgamation’

Have you ever had that feeling where things aren’t right; where the every day normal seems out of place for no reason and without explanation? It’s like that day when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed and nothing seems to go your way, as if you’re momentarily living in an alternate universe with no control over being your true self. That’s the feeling I instantly received when listening to ‘Amalgamation’ by Robert Eggplant. It’s easily, one of the eeriest and discordant ambient albums I’ve ever heard, yet at the same time, it’s so intriguing that I find myself listening to it over and over again. Filled with a multitude of field recordings and magnetic tape loops, ‘Amalgamation’ is like taking a slow motion walk down a busy inner-city street, where all of the activities surrounding you are moving about at a funeral’s pace. The good news is, this album is very captivating and will keep you thoroughly entertained throughout its ten solid tracks.

Right from the start, “Cement Stain” hits you in the face as if you’ve just woken up from a knockout punch or a drunken daze. The curious droning sounds mixed with the bizarre samples and nature-like field recordings are enough to mangle the senses and leave you in an an unorthodox state of confusion. Curiously, you’ll eagerly listen on as there are a plethora of things going on in this track to keep it interesting and entertaining. “Tomb Of Froth” is a reserved drone track with spots of mysterious tape loops that featured slowed down and mangled vocal tracks. Although barely audible, this adds a grim detail to this rather short and peculiar song. “Conversations” begins with a peaceful field recording, highlighting the chirping of birds and splashing water, as if someone is nonchalantly walking down the street after a violent storm. In slowly fades what appears to be the aftermath of looping beats of a Tibetan singing bowl, as multiple layered hisses play on for the majority of the track. “Cave Inhabitant” is another creepy track that lineaments multiple instruments and provide a resounding drone as more tape loops and field recordings augment the free space throughout. “Travelers Of Mold” starts with the sound of vehicles traversing a bridge along an interstate and soon after, amicable keys resonate music that can relate to having blissful emotions. A lower toned drone soon takes over as the background traffic can now be heard traveling over a road during a rainstorm. “Decay Of Decorations” has a very 80’s-ish synth wave sound and various outlandish noises can be heard throughout, giving this track a very edgy feeling. “Bomber In The Woods” has a calming demeanor, with the crackling of a forest fire added in to the mix. The migrating drones take an agitative turn as if there is no resolve from the dangers that lay ahead. “Hall Of Moss” begins with the happiness of chirping birds and a quiet sounding tape loop in the background. As more field recordings are added, the lose drone sounds begin to take shape and at times seem scarce, adding to the mystique nature of the song. “Feast Of YOG” is a compelling track that features a few spots of guitar strums, but is mostly full of engrossed field recordings and low-toned drones. The final track on the album, “Everything Under The Sun Will Parish” has a very smooth and placid drone with minimal field recordings, I guess to signify the end of all things except for nature itself.

‘Amalgamation’ is a very entertaining album and one like I’ve never heard before – especially in the dark ambient genre. Robert Eggplant has fostered a pretty unique sound and I cannot wait to hear more from this artist in the future. This has become my new go-to album for when I need to hear something that’s just a little bit different from everything else. I highly recommend this album so please show your support by downloading it at the link below.

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Links:

https://roberteggplant.bandcamp.com/releases

Atrium Carceri & Cities Last Broadcast Elicit Nocturnal Visions On Sophomore Collaboration, ‘Black Stage Of Night’

The bleak and consoling sounds of dark ambient music don’t always have to be set in dreary, pioneering generations. Although we mostly associate this visionary craft with distant times, it’s audial adaptability can generate imaginative sequences from past occasions as well. That’s exactly what Atrium Carceri and Cities Last Broadcast – also unofficially known as The Bearded Swedes – have achieved on their second collaboration effort together known as, ‘Black Stage Of Night’. Their retrospective outlook on dark ambient has taken the genre to new heights, as the solitude droning and domineering field recordings have been replaced with haunting tape loops & sequences, and minimalistic – yet melodic – soundscapes. The result is a recording rich in warm ambient sounds and thick structured songs that are well crafted that take a life of their own, as if their audience could have been from many decades ago.

Intrepid album opener, “Mind Turns To Night”, makes a bold statement as the soft and eerie synths provide a leisurely tone to this haunting dirge while the warm static noises hiss inconstantly in the background. “Attic And Wormwood” commences with a beautiful piano arrangement and the steady, slightly high-pitched frequency to add texture and substance. About halfway through the track, nostalgic keyboard melodies make their way in as if the dusk-lit sky is breaking away to the dawn. “A Glass Of Sleep For An Elegant Dream” is my favorite song on the album as it has an 80’s cinematic horror sound to it and with the sounds of an old spinning record crackling in the background, gives a classic interpretation of modern terror. “All Things Nocturnal” features an array of soundscapes with opulent keys & pads to give this track a dense sound. “Chaos Unmade” features sparse tape loops and a spectral melody played over and over again making this a very ghostly and daring track. Anxiety builds as various sounds and samples can barely be heard in the background as the music continues and the unknown ending soon unfolds. “A New Constellation” slowly builds without reaching a climactic state as various musical sounds creep their way in momentarily to make their presence known. This track is like a doomed, melancholic adventure that leaves its somber trace on everything in its path. On “The Great Order Of Things”, a mesmerizing vocal track is added to the droning austere arrangement to make it just as soothing as it is unnerving. On the albums final track, “Night Becomes Morning”, alluring pads alter frequencies to create an exquisite beacon of light drones to properly finalize the multitude of timeless sounds and patterns thus far. This minimal arrangement fits perfect with the rest of the tracks and leaves the listener in a state of renewed amazement.

The team of Atrium Carceri and Cities Last Broadcast never cease to amaze me when they set out to synchronize their minds on a project like this. With two fantastic albums now under their belt, I can only hope they will continue to collaborate on a regular basis and bring us more albums in the “Black” series. Although these artist have excellent solo careers, there is just something very special when they get together and release an album. ‘Black Stage Of Night’ may not be your typical dark ambient album but it will haunt you in other ways that you can only imagine. Please show your support for this awesome release and download it at the link below.

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Links:

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/black-stage-of-night

Top 10 Dark Ambient Releases Of 2019

I’ve been a huge fan of dark ambient for quite some time now but this is the first time that I’ve had to put together a Top 10 list of my favorite albums of the year. If the truth were to be told, this could have easily been a Top 50 list as there were so many exceptional releases this year. Instead, I want to give props to the following 10 amazing albums that have impacted me in multiple ways. Although there were many more astonishing dark ambient albums that were released in 2019, these are the ones that (in my opinion) have set the standard for modern dark ambient.

10. God Body Disconnect – The Mist Between The Mirrors

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/the-mist-between-mirrors

What a way to start this top 10 list. Right from the opening field recordings and narrative remarks, I knew instantly this was going to be one of my go-to dark ambient albums! Themed around emotional subjects such as disappointment & isolation, this recording is as therapeutic as it is relaxing.

9. Xerxes The Dark – Tower Of Silence

https://xerxesthedark.bandcamp.com/album/tower-of-silence

Xerxes The Dark is in my top 5 favorite dark ambient recording artists of all time, but XTD didn’t make my list based on a biased decision. ‘Tower Of Silence’ is simply XTD’s best release to date and one of my most listened to albums this year. Every track is haunting and addictive and will give you the feeling of being trapped in a post-apocalyptic industrial wasteland.

8. Melanohelios – VII: Warmth Within Endless Emptiness

https://melanohelios.bandcamp.com/album/vii-warmth-within-endless-emptiness

When it comes to space ambient, Melanohelios is one of the best in the business. On ‘VII: Warmth Within Endless Emptiness’, the drones are longer, chilling, and gives the sensation of relentless confinement on a doomed space mission. Seventy two minutes of vacuum filled incarceration will leave your senses void of all intelligible emotions.

7. Ruptured World – Archeoplanetary

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/archeoplanetary

I’m such a huge Ruptured World fan and the second album of the Planetary series, ‘Archeoplanetary’ is as good as they come. Whereas most Dark ambient recordings leave room for the listener to provide an imaginative scenario to match the music, Ruptured World prepare a captivating narration throughout the whole recording.

6. øjeRum – Without Blood The Sun Darkens

https://cycliclaw.bandcamp.com/album/without-blood-the-sun-darkens

‘Without Blood The Sun Darkens’ is one of the most haunting and mesmerizing dark ambient albums I’ve ever heard. Consisting of a single, fifty nine minute track of repetitive and impassioned synths and pads, this song is about reflection and memory. This is still one of my favorite meditative albums to listen to.

5. Winterblood – Finsternis

https://winterblood78.bandcamp.com/album/finsternis

‘Finsternis’ is a very enthralling and hypnotic work of art that will leave you in a trance-like state throughout the hour long recording. Winterblood is like a dark ambient accomplice to the black metal band Paysage D’hiver, as I receive the same type of ardent pleasure from both artists. This album is a MUST HAVE for any true fan of dark ambient.

4. Neraterræ – The Substance Of Perception

https://cycliclaw.bandcamp.com/album/the-substance-of-perception

Alessio Antoni has summoned an all-star line up for his debut project Neraterræ and the result is the impeccable recording, ‘The Substance Of Perception’. Each track is sonically different, yet they are produced as a seamless dark entity that is fathoms above most others. I cannot wait to hear more from this amazing project!

3. Ager Sonus – Mithra

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/mithra

‘Mithra’ is probably the most musically diverse album in my top 10. Taking us back to Ancient Rome, Ager Sonus uses subtle stringed instruments and grandiose drones to create a vision of enchantment and fascination. I still listen to this album on a weekly basis and although it was released in March, it continues to grab my attention with each and every listen.

2. Monocube – Substratum

https://cycliclaw.bandcamp.com/album/substratum

Monocube has to be the dark ambient sleeper artist of the year. With almost no attention drawn to this album prior to its release, I downloaded it solely based on the reputation of the Cyclic Law label lineup. One of the best decisions I made all year, as ‘Substratum’ is a mammoth of an album. The hollow – but frightening – drones will make you feel claustrophobic and uneasy and will leave you with a sense of uncontrollable anxiety. Although very minimal and austere, I tend to find new ambitious elements every time I listen to it.

1. Metatron Omega – Evangelikon

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/evangelikon

Metatron Omega is another one of my favorite dark ambient artists and anytime there is a new release available, it’s an instant purchase from me. ‘Evangelikon’ is a mastercraft in ritualistic dark ambient music with beautiful Gregorian-style chanting and unnerving drones. I listen to this album continually and it’s without a doubt my favorite dark ambient album of the year.