Beyond The Below Offer Disturbing Sounds With Tranquil Piano Arrangements & Turbulent Field Recordings on, ‘Heart Like An Empty Coffin’

Every time I listen to a Dark Ambient recording, I hear it as a soundtrack to a particular moment in time. Whether its from a horrific era that has passed, an ominous & futuristic existence that has yet to happen, or the treacherous present that continues to unfold before our very eyes right now, this genre excels at bringing out the most emotional state of our being in order to imagine such scenarios and how humanity has evolved (or continues to evolve). On ‘Heart Like An Empty Coffin’, Beyond The Below covers each of those era’s by using intelligent field recordings, well-crafted piano arrangements, and modest use of long-form drones to create a unique sound that can be identified with a specific aeon. That’s not to say that there are several distinct sounds on this recording, it just means that Beyond The Below has a keen ear for sounds that expand the epoch of time. Let’s dive into this extraordinary recording.

Engaging album opener, “Downpour”, starts with a menacing piano note that embeds its presence in the conscious by its continual mesmerizing play. Scorching synth frequencies create an unnerving expanse as the field recordings start to filter in. The time setting seems to take the listener from a not-so-distant past to a near-distant apocalyptic future. More beautiful piano notes play over evaporating synth drones as the song comes to an abrupt end. “Kill The Past” begins with haunting piano melodies and distorted field recordings, creating a very bleak atmosphere. Majestic synth arrangements are introduced, establishing a smooth tone, while cosmic sound effects randomly break through as if introduced from a futuristic time portal. “Cleansing The Cursed” starts with night time sound effect, then the abrupt breakthrough of piano notes and industrial synths real havoc as if providing the score for a horror movie. “Solitudinous” features the looping hiss of antique recording techniques as retro-wave keys influence a time where industrial wastelands ruled the earth, and bands of outlaws protected its natural resources from other groups. Although one of the shorter tracks on the album, this one stands out as one of my favorites. “Creatures Sing At Night” is one of the creepiest songs on the album, as the opening elements feature obscure vocals and deep piano notes. The constant inaudible field recording in the background is enough to bring on additional anxiety. “Ghosts Of The Sun” has some of the best piano melody on the album and the echo effect really sets this track in high gear. The warm drones in the background, offer a safe haven for the imagination as this track is calming, while offering bits of discordant harmony. “Love Once Lost” starts with a synth tone that sounds like a submarine sonar. As this sequence continues to play, industrial synths are layered in, as well as additional sound effects that creates a sense of angst. The final track on the album, “Darkness Speaks”, wastes no time creating ominous sounds as harsh industrial frequencies and beautiful piano notes collide in absolute harmony. After several minutes of alluring synth overlays, the track transitions into an industrialized nightmare filled with dissonant sounds and a short blast of nightmarish vocals. Such an ideal way to end this fantastic album.

Beyond The Below take a more theatrical approach to Dark Ambient than a lot of other artist. Shedding the constant, enduring drones and epic track lengths for shorter, cinematic structured tunes that contain a variety of instrumentation and styles, ‘Heart Like An Empty Coffin’ is an enigmatic album that will appeal to a wide variety of music listeners. I highly recommend checking this one out, so please click on the link below and add this gem to your collection.

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Links:

https://beyondthebelow.bandcamp.com/album/heart-like-an-empty-coffin

Abhasa Amalgamate Ritualistic Dark Ambient And Bewildering Black Metal On ‘१’

Ritualistic forms of art have been around for centuries, providing people with an outlet for conveying their ceremonious rites. In music, it’s an all-out free form, and emotional channel that allows artists to express their craft freely and without restraint. Abhasa epitomizes this condition by combining metal, ambient textures and liturgical sentiment on the massively impressive album titled ‘१’. Showing huge amounts of restraint, Abhasa lets the music and atmosphere set the pace by creating the beautiful, emotional tone that will catapult the listener to an ethereal location – for at least the fifty minute duration of this album.

Holistic album opener, “१“, sets the spiritual tone as the hum of Tibetan bowls and ringing bells provide meaning and direction for this ceremonious journey. Field recordings of a natural setting amplify the experience. This vibe continues and seamlessly leads into “२”, which features more Tibetan bowl sounds, and the introduction of more modern instrumentation. Droning guitar riffs slowly crescendo their way into the mix, becoming louder and at their apex, the strums of distorted guitars make their presence known. After a few strums, it stops and after a short break, a beautiful acoustic passage begins, taking this track to new heights. As this track fades into “३”, the ambience slowly fades and gives way to a harsher, post-black metal sound. Interestingly, it has a very dreamy sound thanks to the ghostly production efforts. The next track, “४” starts with an acoustic riff that is quickly abandoned for a louder, more depressive tone. As this being one of the longer tracks, it gives the listener time to soak in the alluring guitar tone that’s equivalent to polarizing dark ambience. “५” begins with malevolent soundscapes and obscure field recordings that provide a sense of dread. The hiss of a guitar creates additional atmospheric tones as well. As the ambiguity fades, the sudden violent rush of distorted guitars introduce the next track, “६”. At just over twelve minutes, this saga runs through harsh metal parts, acoustic passages and ambient atmospheres while maintaining an even keel of emotional moments. The final track on the album, “७” blazes with discordant and blackened riffs, while the drums blast through like an assault weapon at a firing range. At around the half way mark, enticing keys create an exuberant atmosphere before the harsh tones pick up again. After a few minutes, the song finally fades to the sounds of the strums of an acoustic guitar.

The ritualistic sounds of Abhasa are undeniable, as they penetrate the ears and soul with emotional atmospheric music that border the genres of black metal and dark ambient. Now with the backing of the incredible Mystic Timbre label for a cassette release, this prodigious effort can be heard and enjoyed across multiple platforms. Click on the link below to download this ceremonious release!

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Links:

https://abhasa.bandcamp.com/

Shelter-In-Place Dark Ambient & Dungeon Synth Playlist

We are living in dark times and whether we like it or not, we are witnessing a historical occasion that is effecting the whole world. Although many people still have to work, legions of the worlds population are under a strict shelter-in-place order. Not to make light of the situation, but what better time is there to check out some awesome artists that you may have never heard of before, or to revisit some newer albums that stand out amongst the others. These are some of my (current) favorite albums to listen to and I’m sharing them with you as a recommendation. Check out and support these amazing artists (and labels).

Recommended in Dark Ambient:

https://hiemalambient.bandcamp.com/album/vacant
https://scottlawlor.bandcamp.com/album/badseed
https://cycliclaw.bandcamp.com/album/the-outside
https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/shortwave-ruins
https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/dystopian-gate
https://cycliclaw.bandcamp.com/album/scenes-from-the-sublime

Recommended In Dungeon Synth (and beyond):

https://borg.bandcamp.com/album/woodland
https://serpentsswordrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-woods-of-galdura
https://crypthopcompilations.bandcamp.com/releases
https://jenntaiga.bandcamp.com/album/plight
https://coniferousmyst.bandcamp.com/album/queen-of-the-timberline-realms
https://criptadel.bandcamp.com/album/the-goblin-market

Regen Graves Delivers A Synthesis Of Krautrock And Space Ambient On Vintage-Styled Offering ‘Herbstlicht’

I don’t usually start my reviews by discussing my opinion of album art, however, I think artwork is an intricate part of the listening experience, especially for the dark ambient genre. For me, when listening to dark ambient, the emotional experience is just as important as the music itself, because it free’s your mind without limitations and allows you to drift off into experiences that you may not be able to encounter in a lifetime. The cover art is equally important because it gives you a first impression of the experience at hand. When I first saw the artwork for Regen Grave’s latest album, ‘Herbstlicht’, I was mesmerized by the desolation and despondency caught in a single image. The gloomy weather, old buildings and empty streets paint a harrowing story of something menacing that could have happened during that time period. Although herbstlicht is German for Autumn Light, this cover depicts a particular dismal coldness that could have a reverse meaning. Musically, ‘Herbstlicht’ is chilling dark ambient with a vintage tone that could very be the soundtrack for what is happening in the album art. That’s why the entanglement of artwork and music is so important.

Eerie album opener, “Das Morgengrauen” begins with a low end bass drone that pushes the frequency spectrum with its tonal distortion. Also featuring some space ambient atmospherics, the high pitched synth effects randomly penetrate the atmosphere with discord of sounds and noises. “Leere Straßen” starts with an unearthly presence of layered synth sounds that have a dark, ubiquitous vibe. Horror-like keys play a dim melody, adding a sense of frenzied commotion. “Der Erste Schnee” introduces a narrative recording on top of spacious drones, creating an chilling, yet chaotic atmosphere. With a track length of nearly thirteen minutes long, this epic adventure takes the listener through various stages of obscurity. “Besuch” presents horrifying sound effects with inaudible narrations as if a warning message is broadcasting to an abandoned community after a tragic event has occurred. As the warning continues to play, low end frequencies and field recording mesh together to yield terrible uncertainty. “Zersetzung” features percussive elements and melodic keyboard tones in a short, apocalyptic number that sets the stage for the final track. “Rote Blätter” is an eleven and a half minute long track full of demise and oblivion. The synth effects have an abeyance-like nature to them while intermittent intonations seem more strident as the song continues.

Regen Graves epitomizes excellence when it comes to bizarre tones and spacey drones. The minimal use of field recordings and spacey narrations work perfectly with these tracks as they present a graphic story that may be depicted in the cover art. ‘Herbstlicht’ is a very impressive recording that not only has a vintage sound, but also represents the dark ambient genre with superb integrity. Please support this incredible artist and download the album from the link below.

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Links:

https://regengraves.bandcamp.com/album/herbstlicht

Darkness Descends Upon The ‘Lost Souls Of The River’ By The Cryptic Artist Known As DøD

There are many legends and stories of what happens to a persons soul after they die. In some modern religions, it is said that the soul is judged by God and then it is determined whether the soul will spend an eternity in Heaven or Hell. There is also a tale that the soul will wander the Earth until it finds closure for the untimely demise of its physical counterpart. However, the lore of the soul can sometimes be told by the powerful broadcast of dark ambient music. DøD presents us with a mystifying vision of roaming spirits in ‘Lost Souls Of The River’. This short collection of aberrant drones gives a chilling insight of the afterlife meandering about, searching for answers in the watery mazes that ended their existence.

“Lost Souls Of The River I” is a gradual builder and the eerie soundscapes ascend in slow motion, like distorted figures emerging from a dense fog that drowns the coast line of a dissipated canal. As the mass of souls congregate around the banks of the waterways, darkened drones intensify, while jarring keys provide textures of industrial-like sounds that are the essence of evil. Perpetual drum beats provide the aspect of existence for the souls as their presence is now known and must be dealt with. “Lost Souls Of The River II” begins with guttural synth tones and sinister soundscapes that resemble a horror-like cinematic score. Toward the end, eccentric keys play a deranged arrangement before the guttural sounds kick in again to end the song. “Lost Souls Of The River III” is rooted in warm drones that pulsate through ominous keyboard effects and rain-like field recordings. Erratic tones oscillate from one side to another like a comet racing through the atmosphere. The final track on this distressing recording is “Lost Souls Of The River IV”. With searing orchestrations and bleak keyboard tones, this track is the climactic ending for the spirits that were set adrift, searching for answers of their mortal departure. Minimal electronic pulses exaggerate the expediency of their mission but a sudden inaudible scream puts and end to it all and the song soon fades into oblivion.

‘Lost Souls Of The River’ is a fascinating piece of work and stands out in the Dark Ambient genre. With a great mix of ambient, warm drones, field recordings and sensational keys & pads, DøD delivers a remarkable first look into a new project filled with many surprises and imaginative tales. Although this was a short EP, it was very entertaining and I enjoyed it very much. I’m really looking forward to hearing more dark & disturbing tunes from this artist and I highly recommend checking out this release. Please show your support and download ‘Lost Souls Of The River’ from the link below.

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Links:

https://dod0119.bandcamp.com/album/lost-souls-of-the-river

Execration Chamber Blend Cinematic Quality Score With Lo-Fi Dungeon Synth On The Intrepid ‘Cathedral Of Unbeing’

Is there a more perfect time to listen to Dungeon Synth than now? As we’re faced with the global pandemic known at COVID-19, many people are confined to their own homes in order to prevent the spread of the deadly virus – basically being imprisoned in their dungeon until it’s safe to – once again – interact with society. The mood just seems right to consume some lo-fi Dungeon Synth, to take you back to those Medieval days of malicious captivity. One artist that is an absolute fit during this trying time is Execration Chamber, and on ‘Cathedral Of Unbeing’ the infusion of cinematic composition and lo-fi Dungeon Synth is just what the doctor ordered to cure the ailments of solitude.

Monumental album opener, “The Lesser Felled” begins with the soaked sounds of a heavy rain field recording, followed by dense layers of keys that harmonize in a symphonic way. The sound is gloomy and mournful but played with a sense of hope and reason. As the song comes to a close, the sounds of heavy rainfall can be heard for one final time. “Gaunt, The Night” introduces bombastic percussive elements as if an anticipated Medieval battle is on the dawn of existence. The solo keys really standout as they are crisp and have the perfect tone to augment the background rhythm. “Buried In Time” has a bleak feeling to it, as it’s galloping cadence matches the simple beat that accompanies it throughout. At times, the keys become discordant as the sound becomes more harrowing. “The Great Purging Of Memories” sounds as if it could have been an intro to an early 90’s lo-fi black metal recording with its eerie tone and divergent arrangement. “A Hallowed End Of Passage” would be the perfect track to lead a garrison of warriors into battle. With its fast-paced, rhythmic patterns, this is just the motivation needed to carry out an assault on an enemy invasion. “Imminent Warfare” is a battle-ready anthem that features wondrous organ sounds and precision drum pulses that emit a culture of feudal decadence. “Crawling Tombs” is a dismal track that has components of lush textures and emphatic keys. The continuous pounding of the drum sounds as if the surviving warriors of a brutal battle are in sync, heading back to their kingdom to recover from their wounds. “Wept In Blood” is a dismal canticle with massively layered keyboard tones that are a vivid reminder of the tragedies that preceded times of peace. The final song on the album, “Dimly” is a sorrowful dirge filled with depressive sounding keyboards that perfectly compliment the emotional journey that this album has taken us.

‘Cathedral Of Unbeing’ is an incredible album that has that old-school Dungeon Synth vibe but with and an updated cinematic quality to it. It’s fantastic to see such a broad spectrum of musical sounds collide in an epic adventure with such a prosperous outcome. These tracks flow together so well and just like many other amazing Dungeon Synth recordings, they tell a valiant Medieval story of both victory and tragedy. I’m very much looking forward to hearing more adventurous tales from Execration Chamber, but in the meantime, please support this improbable artist by downloading ‘Cathedral Of Unbeing’ from the link below.

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Links:

https://execrationchamber.bandcamp.com/album/cathedral-of-unbeing

Audioalias Fuse Elements Of Downtempo and Drum & Bass To Form Mystifying Electronic Ambience On The Intelligent Offering, ‘Birds Of Prey’ EP

The atmospheric sounds of ambient music is a transcendent phenomenon. Although it doesn’t (normally) contain a rhythmic beat or percussive pattern, this mainly texturally layered music is mixed with soundscapes and the occasional field recording to produced an empowered and emotional music brand that is very addictive. However, due to the open-ended realm of the song compositions, it leaves a lot of room for experimentation and genre mixing. That being said, what do you get when you take the rooted consistency of ambient and combine it with the smooth vibes of downtempo and drum & bass music? You get the supreme recordings of Audioalias, the experimental electronic project from Melbourne, Australia, and on ‘Birds Of Prey’, you get four songs of magnificent electronic culture that combines the dreamy elements of ambient & soundscapes with the upbeat and rhythmic pulses of downtempo music.

To get things started on this EP, “Awkward Serenity” fades in with a looped drum beat and low end bass lines. Simple but effective digital piano arrangements can be heard providing a melodic balance. Additional sounds and keyboard effects augments random spots throughout, creating a spacious groove. The title track, “Birds Of Prey” begins with a haunting keyboard segment that loops, providing a cadence for the harrowing bass and beat to catch up with. Once all in sync, this fluid jam lay ground to additional sounds, tones and catchy vocal lines. Just as your mind and soul start to sink into the music hysteria, it fades out to the end of the track. “Port Park” has moments of darkwave and synthwave, showing versatility and the willingness to cross additional musical paths. Aside from a couple of spots of spoken word samples, there is a lot of looping elements to this track with some beautiful mixing moments. This one is probably my favorite song on the album. The final track, “Waiting For You” contains the most ambience as well as some killer vocal effects. This track is a slow builder, as it layers instrumentations and sounds practically one at a time until there is a conglomerate of musical ideas going on that form a chilling and climactic ending. This really gives me something to look forward to with future releases from Audioalias.

I really like the direction that Audioalias is going with electronic experimentation. Having the ability to combine elements from multiple genres of music takes talent and skill and there is no doubt that Audioalias has both. Audioalias also recently conducted an interview with Emanate Community, where he discussed his inspirations, collaborations and recording gear. I’ve included that interview link below so please check it out as it’s a wonderful read! In the meantime, you can check out ‘Birds Of Prey’ by clicking on the Bandcamp link below.

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Links:

https://audioalias1.bandcamp.com/album/birds-of-prey

Audioalias Interview With Emanate:

View at Medium.com