Løgan McCurter Cultivates A Kaleidoscope Of Synth Madness On The Elusive, ‘Primitive Baptist & The Oldest Time Traveler In The World’

I spent some time perusing Løgan McCurter’s Bandcamp page and was fascinated by the variety of music that he’s generated over the course of several albums and demos. From singer/songwriter and psychedelic to synth pop and retro synthwave, Logan knows no boundaries and has a niche for creating great music. Now, even further expanding his musical forte, Dungeon Synth is added to the audial pallet, and the release of ‘Primitive Baptist & The Oldest Time Traveler In The World’ is bestowed upon us. With a solid foundation in the Dungeon Synth realm, these eight tracks expand beyond multiple genres, creating a fascinating album of melancholic desires.

Impressive album opener, “Primitive Baptist” commences with a steady dose of tape hisses followed by the consoling sounds of retro synth chops that paint an effervescent scene of jubilant mystery. Celestial soundscapes and percussive pops create a harmonious tone, setting a wondrous theme for the remainder of the album. “Uniform Resource Locator” begins with some creepy sound effects before melding into a whimsical fantasy synth groove. This soon comes to an end, giving way to a warm ambient tone and a variety of sonic textures, as if providing a soundscape to a fanatical adventure. Toward the end, a barrage of synth leads come into play, bringing this track to a climactic ending. “Chapel Dweller” is a lugubrious effort with dreamy keys and cosmic effects. There is a beautiful sense of melody on this track that makes it an infectious listen. “Spoken Into Existence” begins with an alluring piano melody before shifting into a retro synthwave affair. It’s so easy to get lost in the ambient space that is created by the solar atmospherics, that you’ll almost feel as if you’re on a celestial journey through unknown realms. This leads right into the lush, “The Meaning Of Life Is That It Ends”. With tape hisses and fantasy synth tones, the melody is beautifully arranged to create a stark world of beauty and darkness. Hints of percussion and layers of synth leads add to the mystique of this song, making it one of my favorites on the album. “The Oldest Time Traveler” continues with the tape hisses and austere soundscapes, sending the listener on a psychedelic excursion. As the elongated synths begin to take shape, every element of this track becomes more predominant. The obscure effects really do this track justice, as it keeps the listener drawn into a world of fantasy and arcane details. The eerie “Tomb Sleeper” begins with haunting field recordings and maniacal effects before settling into a heavy bass-driven dirge that sounds like a synthwave ballad from the 80’s. The inclusion of steady rainfall provides a very soothing effect as this emotionally arranged anthem continues with various elements of surprise that succeeds in captivating the listener effortlessly. The final memorable achievement on this fantastic album is the mesmerizing “You Were The Spell”. After a brief, dismal array of grim sound effects, the track settles into an austere arrangement of harmonized synths that are simply breathtaking. The expanded notes overlay each other in an integrated fashion, providing a soothing and somber experience. The trance-like quality that builds with each interval pulls the listener further into a world of darkness and uncertainty. What an amazing way to end this extraordinary album.

Løgan McCurter’s Dungeon Synth journey – although a youthful one – is surely paying off with the bold and captivating release, ‘Primitive Baptist & The Oldest Time Traveler In The World’. He masterfully blends multiple synth styles to create his own unique signature within the Dungeon Synth realm. This is an extremely entertaining album with lots of twists and turns and I can’t recommend this one enough. Please click on the link below and support this prodigious artist by downloading this tremendous piece of work.

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Links:

https://loganmccurter.bandcamp.com/album/primitive-baptist-the-oldest-time-traveler-in-the-world

Eyre Transmissions XII – Interview with Dark Ambient / Necrochill Producer, Sumatran Black

These days, Bandcamp is my go-to platform for a wide assortment of music. I love how it’s given artists unlimited creativity and the ability to showcase their musical aptitude regardless of style, genre or other unconventional standards. One artist that demonstrates this capability is Sumatran Black. Not only is it the name of the labels flagship artist, but it also represents the Bandcamp page itself – Sumatran Black Records. This Dark Ambient/Necrochill page is also home to Black Box Memories and Ataşehir – two other fantastic creations of the Sumatran Black composer himself. The albums produced by Sumatran Black Records are some of my favorite in recent years and although each project is different, they bring a needed variety of memorable compositions to the dark electronic community that are eagerly welcomed. I recently had the opportunity to interview the composer behind the label to find out more about each project and what the future holds for Sumatran Black Records.

1. Thank you so much for this interview opportunity. I’m constantly amazed by the impressive and unique projects that you have going on with your Bandcamp page. Have you always had a vision to create multiple projects, covering an array of themes and sonic adventures?

I’ve always really enjoyed other artists who have released music under pseudonyms or side projects etc for example, I really love the Smackos project by Dutch artist Legowelt, and in terms of dark music I think the Lurker of Chalice project by Leviathan is a really good example of how using a different project name can open up a whole range of opportunities for musical expression.

To be honest when I started out, I didn’t really have any distinct vision or plan for either the music releases or the label. I just wanted to record some music after very long hiatus from having anything to do with music creation and just take it from there. I tend to believe that once you get the ball rolling on something artistically, it will often guide you in its own direction and you can kind of shape the overall ideas into something more focused and concrete. Which I think is an accurate description of what happened with the Sumatran Black Records label. As I began to take it more seriously and produce more music it was obvious there would have to be different names for different projects just to maintain a sense thematic clarity.

2. If I had to guess, I’d say that Sumatran Black was your flagship project. Was this your first endeavor in the Dark Ambient arena or was there something else before that?

Sumatran Black was the first.

3. Were you involved with any other musical endeavors prior to Sumatran Black? If so, what were they and what led you to Dark Ambient?

I’ve been involved in lots of projects before but most of my music endeavours previous to Sumatran Black involved writing music for theatre (Opera and Musical Theatre). Unfortunately despite my best efforts, nothing made it to the stage. I still have hopes to resurrect some of these ideas in the future.

With regards to my journey towards darker music and dark ambient, I guess my character helped steer me in that direction. And I should add that I wouldn’t really class myself as a purely Dark Ambient composer. I think what I’m trying to do is often less textural and less static in terms of movement than a great deal of Dark Ambient. I would also add that I’ve tried to avoid presenting my music with an overly polished sound (in terms of production) in general. Which is something that I would associate with a lot of Dark Ambient. Hence the term Necrochill. As the genre has become more popular through the good work of labels like Cryochamber and the inclusion of Dark Ambient music in mainstream video games, it seems that the Dark Ambient sound has become more homogeneous and less distinctive between artists. I want to avoid this.

Of course my music does have many elements that are common with Dark Ambient and I have no problem with it being categorised in those terms.

4. ‘A Taxonomy of Grief’ (by Sumatran Black) is one of my favorite Dark Ambient experiences of the year so far. Can you tell us a little bit about the Necrotrilogy and how this album came about?

The Necrotrilogy is a trilogy of releases under the name Sumatran Black designed to be thematically and musically linked, and to introduce the audience to my concept of necro chill. Which is essentially just a funny name to categorise my main musical interest which is dark music that is cathartic, emotional and has strong elements of lo fi and some elements of the 2nd wave of black metal necro sound but reimagined in a more ambient context.

‘A Taxonomy of Grief’ is the third and final part of the Necrotrilogy. Musically it’s supposed to be a summation of the sound of the previous two albums. Thematically it’s the most personal of the trilogy and is in the simplest of terms an album about loss and recovery.

https://sumatranblack.bandcamp.com/album/a-taxonomy-of-grief

5. What are the other albums that make up the remainder of the Necrotrilogy?

Part 1: In the Dread

Part 2: Fathomz

Part 3: A Taxonomy of Grief

Not part of the trilogy: A Page of Madness Soundtrack, Elegy for a Lost Cosmonaut.

6. Do you already have plans for any upcoming Sumatran Black albums?

Not an album but I have an EP ready to go into the next stage of recording. The demos are complete, and the EP is a spiritual successor to Elegy for a Lost Cosmonaut. Its working title is Broken Timelines.

7. Let’s shift gears to Black Box Memories. Another stellar project that combines Dark Ambient and lo-fi electronica. I’m so intrigued by this project but how did it come about?

Usually when I’m in the final stages of a project in terms of mixing and mastering I tend to get bored of listening to the tracks over and over again and so I often do some recordings in the middle of this process just to give myself some variation almost like a palate cleanser if you will. And so when I was finishing off In the Dread (which took a long time), I had a lot of other tracks I had been working on which would not fit that project but I thought was strong enough musically to stand alone in a music project in their own right. Those tracks would form ‘Transmissions’ the first Black Box Memories album.

8. Although the Black Box Memories recordings are very modern, they have an excellent retro vibe to them as well. Is this a sound that you were planning for or did it just come about through experimentation?

I don’t really know where the sound came from first and foremost it was initially probably a reaction to the sound of In the Dread. That album is very claustrophobic and employs some quite extreme audio processing and I guess Black Box Memories is sonically just more open and less demanding of the listener. And as I said before musical projects often dictate their own outcomes. So in the case of Black Box Memories the first demos had a very nostalgic and lo fi vintage sound to them and so as more tracks will created they became influenced by the initial demos. I think also at the time I had access to more sounds, I’d upgraded my system and invested in some 80s retro synth clones and my thinking was how can I create a musical idea that uses the nostalgic sounds of my musical youth but recontextualises them in a kind of more dark arena. if you can imagine how vaporwave manipulates old samples in a way to produce something that has a completely different emotional flavour. I thought maybe that would be possible with say for example a Yamaha DX7 VST. Could I take a very recognisable electric piano sound and then sonically manipulate it in a way that sounds even more vintage/lo fi – almost like a musical exaggeration – and then use this sound design in more dark and almost psychedelic musical compositions.

https://sumatranblack.bandcamp.com/album/this-loving-presence

9. On ‘This Loving Presence’, you use a lot of narrative samples – which blend perfectly with the arrangements. Is there an underlying story with these, or are they used to create a particular ambience for the listening experience?

I guess ‘This Loving Presence’ was greatly influenced by my mood and habits at the time of composition which involved lots of late nights and lack of sleep and watching YouTube videos to try and remedy the situation. Most of the narrative samples are heavily edited ASMR style video quotes. I took those snippets of dialogue and then edited them in a way that would create sentences that had a very sharp and poignant emotional resonance immediately.

10. Now, I definitely have to bring up Ataşehir, because out of all of your projects, this one is probably my favorite. This project is a bit more minimalistic and desolate that your others; what were some of the influences for creating this one?

Although it probably sounds nothing like it, the main influence at the beginning of the Ataşehir project was the work of Stars of the Lid and also GAS. Probably my two favourite drone and ambient artists.

https://sumatranblack.bandcamp.com/album/when-the-time-comes

11. I reviewed 2020’s ‘AVM’ album and I loved the theme that was represented within. Are all Ataşehir albums created with a concept in mind?

I think that I can safely say that pretty much every album and EP I’ve recorded (not only Ataşehir) has been what would broadly be described as a concept album. Sometimes I give an explicit explanation in the liner notes, sometimes the concept is hidden in the album and song titles. 

I have given a previous interview where I go into detail about the Ataşehir project https://ambientmusic.com/interviews/sumatran_black

12. On the latest album, ‘When The Time Comes’, the drone work is absolutely fantastic and has a wide range of melody in it. How did you go about creating these sonic soundscapes?

I think with Ataşehir I always have this overriding influence of abstract expressionism and then I’m always trying to find ways of manifesting that musically. I was lucky with ‘When the Time Comes’ because I found a very particular VST that I used throughout the whole process. I won’t name it because I don’t want to give all my secrets away but the person who designed the instrument is aware of the fact that it was used for the entire album.

Maybe I can just describe the overall composition technique that was used. Most of the tracks consist of maybe three or four drone layers that are intersecting with each other to create a musical foundation – and this is the drone element. Then on top of that the melodic element you refer to are improvisations with a synth or a guitar. These improvisations are cut and edited and looped in an asymmetric way to create kind of melodic tension across the pieces.

13. I love the song titles that you come up with for this project. Do they have a particular meaning, and how do you come with those?

I usually take a long time with song titles I really enjoy that aspect of creating music and it’s something I have a lot of fun with. In the case of the album ‘When the Time Comes’, the titles definitely all have a meaning and maybe I can try and clarify that. The album is supposed to describe a near future or alternative future Istanbul after some strange cataclysmic event. Therefore, the song titles refer to numerous locations in the city but some of those locations are real and some of them are imagined future locations. So, for example, the Istanbul Canal does not exist but it might do in the near future. Also, Levent 4.2 does not exist, but Levent 4 exists. If anyone is interested, on the bandcamp album notes I have included a location guide which kind of explains everything.

14. I recently became familiar with one of your older projects, Haram Tapes. These albums are a lot of fun and seem to defy genre limitations. What makes this project so different?

The main reason that project is so different is because it involves two people. Myself and my collaborator See Safari. It would take a long time to go into detail about all the concepts and ideas behind Haram Tapes, but here is a recent interview we did.

15. Are there plans for more Haram Tapes releases?

Yes, we are discussing the concept for the next album at the moment.

https://haramtapes.bandcamp.com/album/scorpions-fountains

16. Speaking of “releases”, do you have any physical releases (I.e. CD, Cassette, LP..) of any of your projects?

Yes, there are cassettes available for Haram Tapes. Logistically, it hasn’t been possible for me to produce physical releases for Sumatran Black Records. However, it’s my plan that all Sumatran Black Records will have physical versions available from now on. This will begin with a new dungeon synth project I’m currently working on. I also plan to slowly but surely add physical releases to the entire back catalogue.

17. Do you have a home studio in which you record and produce your work?

Yes I do. It’s quite minimal and now I also have made it portable. Before all my music used to be created in my home studio desk setup with big monitors etc but recently I’ve tried to do all my initial work just on a laptop so I can be portable add more flexible with my workspace. ‘When the Time Comes” and “This Loving Presence” were recorded and mixed almost entirely on a small laptop with headphones and they were only moved to my larger studio area (the big computer as it were) during the mastering process.

18. What is your gear setup like? Do you have a preference of analog equipment over digital (VST’s etc..)?

I tend to avoid talking about gear and setups too much because I’d like to encourage all musicians to just use whatever they have available. You don’t need expensive analogue gear you don’t need the latest DAW, you just need ideas and some dedication. the first Sumatran Black album was recorded on GarageBand with no third party VSTs for example.

But to answer your question I really do love both analogue and digital but my priority is practicality and pragmatism. So, I can tell you at this moment I own two or three very good analogue synthesisers but they’re not in the same country as my studio (and not one note from them has appeared on any of my records). I’m doing everything in the box just using vsts because that’s what I have available. I’m planning to build something more substantial in the near future with the aim of implementing some more outboard gear.

19. Again I appreciate this opportunity for the interview and I’m always looking forward to new music by you. Do you have any departing thoughts for your fans that may be reading this?

Thanks for listening and reading. If you got this far, please consider following Sumatran Black Records on Bandcamp as this is my main hub for all news and info about new releases. New Dungeon Synth project coming soon.

Links:

https://sumatranblack.bandcamp.com

https://www.sumatranblackrecords.com

https://www.facebook.com/sumatranblack/

https://youtube.com/user/reevespeterson

https://haramtapes.bandcamp.com

Dronny Darko & Ajna Are On A Quest For Bleak Supremacy With ‘Radioactive Immersion’

For the past couple of years, the Cryo Chamber label has been on quite a roll with releasing an impressive stint of collaboration albums. The Dark Ambient genre is already a special musical environment and on many occasions, it’s easy to identify certain artists based on their style. So, when these collaboration albums are released, I look forward to the fusion of the various styles of some of my favorite artists to see what kind of sonic concoction they have in store. In the case of this review, we have Dronny Darko – the King of dismal drones teaming up with Ajna – the majestic arbiter of ominous soundscapes to produce the enigmatic offering, ‘Radioactive Immersion’. This is not the first time these two Dark Ambient Titans have collaborated and hopefully it won’t be the last, as this is atmospheric modulation at its best.

Like music from a sinister movie soundtrack, “Anomalous Gravity Distortion” blasts out an array of malevolent effects to set a devious mood, providing a platform for a darkened endeavor. Haunting drones reverberate cautiously while a cluster of soundscapes create a claustrophobic vacuum in which there is no escape. “Bottomless Gorge” continues the bleak excursion through abandoned corridors and empty chambers of energy. Sudden bursts of pulsating modulations create a sense of dread as isolation becomes the driving factor behind the minimalistic drones and pads. “Electromagnetic Pulse” commences with a terrifying drone that crescendos from the depths of a radioactive inferno. As the fiery field recordings blaze on, nominal soundscapes keep the listener in suspense while subtle variance in the music is sparse but affective. “Uranium 235” begins with the crackles of positive radioactive energy before gravitating to a dense drone, combined with creepy synth effects and jarring sounds that are right out of a nightmare. Narrations can be heard deep in the mix but they are inaudible as a result of the mass decimation caused by the preceding, disastrous events. “Plutonium Clouds (feat. protoU)” begins with a lighter drone and ominous soundscapes that are a result of the fallout from the mass contamination that obliterated everything in its wake. There is a somber vibe to the synth arrangements and it almost has a Space Ambient sound. “Mutated DNA” starts with an eerie drone that builds and collapses over and over again, while various soundscapes and effects provide a sense of disparity. The sound bits are totally random, but fit in with the theme of the album and help describe what may be happening next – the creation of a new horrific being out of the ashes of an unprecedented nuclear fallout. The final track on the album is the near twelve and a half minute long, “Radioactive Immersion”. Instead of starting with a drone, it sounds more like a pack of crawling insects, scurrying for cover as an undisclosed disturbance is in the air. An assortment of field recordings and synth effects are the focus in this track as it’s primary objective is to create a dark scene of impiety and post-apocalyptic dread. About halfway through, sonic drones add a celestial balance as if the dawn of a new beginning were on the horizon. These ethereal tones fade in and out of the mix several times as if relieving tension of a desolate nature. By the end of the track, the synth effects have faded and all that is left is the oscillating drones.

‘Radioactive Immersion’ is an aural journey to an abandoned nuclear reactor, haunted by past indiscretions and the lackluster efforts of mankind. This album is dark & deep and the music really submerges the listener into a toxic wasteland of tarnished energy and the grim outcome of its horrific meltdown. Dronny Darko and Ajna are not only the best Dark Ambient producers to convey this energy, but their masterful efforts set the bar pretty high for collaboration albums. Please click on the link below and download this intense release immediately.

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Links:

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/radioactive-immersion

Sphäre Sechs Takes Flight On A Celestial Adventure With ‘Beta Pictoris’

Of all the ambient sub-genre’s, Space Ambient is without a doubt my favorite. There is something about the fusion of warm & dark drones and layers of cosmic soundscapes that I find completely captivating. Whenever I’m in the mood for such deeply atmospheric occurrences, there are a few artists that I can always count on for those undeniable sonic excursions and one of them is Sphäre Sechs. On their latest otherworldly offering, ‘Beta Pictoris’, they offer seven tracks of Exoplanet inspired modulations that are more than just a junket through deep space, but a mission through spectacular visuals told by supreme synth arrangements and articulate improvisations.

“Planetesimal Debris” commences with soothing, warm drones, like a space ship drifting through the outer reaches of a familiar solar system just before exploration begins into the realm of deep space. Cosmic soundscapes accent randomly as if vague transmissions become more distant and unclear. An accretion of synth effects begin to produce a thicker sound as the expedition boundaries become broader. I love how the jolting signals continue to play out in the background, increasing in strength but decreasing in clarity. This ten and a half minute opening journey is exactly what’s needed to create a celestial mindset for the remainder of this captivating album. “Doppler Spectroscopy” begins with an alluring drone that has a slight industrial edge to it. The spacious reverb effect really gives that feeling of floating in the depths of pitch black space, almost motionless, while random particles of space dust fly by at a blistering speed. These drones are layered so perfectly that you’ll loose track of time while lapsing into the intensity of its structure. “Seeking The Infinite” starts with a single drone and a variety of peculiar notes being played. A slight crescendo happens at various times, while the keys & pads create a cosmic sound of interstellar adventure. There is mystery and buildup in this track, as if a dark force is lurking around every corner and avoidance is creating an anxiety that continues to build until the end. “Collapsing Cloud” is my favorite track on the album as this is the point where things begin to turn dark and the drones start to sound quite menacing. As if the constant meander through space wasn’t enough, a sinister plot begins to develop as cosmogonal soundscapes establish an eerie sensation of doom and imminent catastrophic failure. The intense use of reverb continues to build an outer realm of darkness and horror and it doesn’t get much better than this. “Infrared Emission” is the longest intonation on the album at almost eleven minutes in length, and it’s an ethereal journey with alluring drones and consoling soundscapes that are extremely hypnotizing from start to finish. The sound of wind blowing is an added surprise, making this another standout performance. “Exosolar” begins with eerie effects that resonate abruptly in a horrific fashion. With piercing drones layered in a way that oscillates through the upper registers of the sound spectrum, this must be a true representation of what unexplored space must be like – creepy and desolate. The final excursion on this deep space adventure is, “Unstable Orbit”. Deranged effects place an incredible spin on the ominous drones as they continue to intensify and increase with electrifying resilience. Slight variations of synth modulations create dismal patterns of haunting fills and abrasive undertones. Whereas the album opened with warm colors, it definitely ends with a bleak performance, that is astounding nonetheless.

Sphäre Sechs continues their streak of masterful Space Ambient performances with ‘Beta Pictoris’. Although one of the most minimalistic sub-genres of the ambient community, this album epitomizes an array of soundscapes and dream-like drones to produce a celestial atmosphere that needs no words for explanation or understanding. This is an amazingly meditative album and I highly recommend it, especially for those that are seeking a hypnotic experience through sonic modulations. Click on the link below and download this fascinating album.

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Links:

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/beta-pictoris

Inoriand Returns With Another Winter Synth Extravaganza Aptly Titled, ‘Life Frozen’

It’s been nearly sixteen months since we’ve heard any great tunes from the Eldest Gate Records Bandcamp page. Once thriving with life, as multiple projects routinely released one amazing album after another, those monumental occasions have grown scarce as only Inoriand released a single album in 2020. However, now back from the frozen dead (for lack of a better phrase), Inoriand has returned with a Dark Ambient/Winter Synth masterpiece in a single track called, ‘Life Frozen’. Now, I’m not sure if this is a continuation of winter themed albums, like 2020’s, ‘A World Frozen’, or a bleak double-entendre for how the COVID-19 pandemic has plagued the entire world – perhaps both. At any rate, this near thirty one minute long track is exceptionally written and may be one of my favorite releases under the Inoriand brand.

Although the overall theme for the album is the cold, austere atmospherics of winter, there is a particular warmness that infects this monumental track. It’s as if the harshness of winter is slowly fading and the crystallized water is beginning to thaw, paving the way for a new season. As “Life Frozen” commences with droning keys and a gentle transition between notes, there is an overall vibe of tranquility and quietness that presents the notion of the chilling landscape chronicled in this song, has been a path less traveled for the duration of the winter months. An elegant keyboard melody begins to play at around the three minute mark and remains dominant for the majority of the track. Various soundscapes and effects are also introduced, creating a hypnotizing scene of serenity. At around the ten minute mark, slightly enhanced modulations bring a darker color to the track, representing an extreme isolation from society, as the ice continues to melt at a leisurely pace. At almost the eighteen minute mark, the track shifts gears again, bringing back a version of the original keyboard melody that was so predominant at the beginning. Maintaining a constant drone in the background, this portion of the track is well composed and almost trance-like, as the listener – by this point – will have a great view of an untouched winter landscape that seemingly reaches a utopian state as each second passes. With just six minutes remaining, another slight shift occurs with the addition of haunting effects with the drones becoming a bit louder in the mix. The climax of the track (and winter) has passed and the dawn of a new season is inevitable as the album ends in majestic winter synth fashion.

I’m really pleased that Inoriand has graced us with a new album of exalted, winter synth. One of the great artists of this sub-genre, Inoriand always creates a captivating landscape of musical textures and haunting ambience and it’s so easy to get lost in the compositions that are released. ‘Life Frozen’ is the perfect example of all of these elements working together to form the ultimate platform for a dormant, wintery escape. Eldest Gate Records continues their run of releasing premium music and Inoriand is without a doubt my favorite act from the label. If you’re into winter synth with elements of dark ambience, look no further than ‘Life Frozen’. Continue to support this wonderful label & artist and click on the link below to download this superb album.

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Links:

https://eldestgaterecords.bandcamp.com/album/life-frozen

Gavella Glan Summons Medieval Forebodings On Dungeon Synth Debut, ‘A Silent Vigil For Oncoming Plagues’

One of my favorite sites to monitor for new and upcoming releases is the Noctilucant Bandcamp page. Creating some of my most cherished Dark Ambient and synth-based releases of the past few years, Joseph Mlodik has a knack for cultivating neural sounds through various projects such as Noctilucant, Sonic Oscillations and my personal favorite, House Of The Maker. Although these projects are firmly based in the realm of Dark Ambient, they each explore various audial modulations, broadening the spectrum for his magnificent releases. Earlier this year, the Noctilucant catalog (and sound scope) was aggrandized further with the release of his first-ever Dungeon Synth album, ‘A Silent Vigil For Oncoming Plagues’ under the moniker of Gavella Glan. Containing ten tracks of ambient based fantasy synth music, this album is a magnificent debut in a genre full of unlimited potential.

The ambient influences are apparent on enigmatic album opener, “The Calm Before The Storm”. There are plenty of field recordings and obscure soundscapes to propel the listener back to an ancient time, preparing them for the Medieval campaigns that lay ahead. Every so often, a dreamy synth lead will add a sense of peace and tranquility, as the sound effects continue to carry the story. Calmly leading into “Echoes Of The Past”, we’re greeted with lush vocals and synth harmonies that continue down the path of equanimity. As if that wasn’t serene enough, the soothing sounds of gentle waves crashing on a shoreline are added and maintain repose until the end of the track. The next song, “Beyond Hill And Dale”, is a relaxing, yet whimsical tune with random bits of distant laughter and a variety of instrumental effects. Although just a couple of minutes long, this is a beautiful piece that fits right in with the rest of the album. “The One Atop The Mountain” commences with a cracking fire and a soft ambient tone before fusing into a noble synth melody, suffused with layers of harmony and trance-like modulations. I love how the mild use of discordant notes change the atmosphere of this track and the spirit of this arrangement is one of my favorites on the album. “The Oxenfurt Drunk” begins with a quick narrative clip that is loud and crisp in the mix and if you’re not expecting it, you’ll probably jump at first listen. As the narration firmly belts out, “I’m here to talk about the contract”, you’ll be fully participating in the audial essence of the music that begins right after. From ambitious to whimsical, this track goes through several atmospheric changes and is a strong contender for the most cinematic track on the album. “A Story Night Of Arcane Hexes” starts with softly played synth leads and a hint of a strange commotion in the background. Key leads and haunting vocals are reminiscent of a horror movie soundtrack while a multitude of dangers lay ahead as the song is filled with evil sounds, firing blasts and obscure melodies that paint a bleak scene of destruction. “A Silent Vigil For Oncoming Plagues” dabbles in the synthwave arena while staying firmly planted in the cinematic Medieval Synth genre. Elongated synth leads combined with dark, oppressive soundscapes and field recordings provide an extremely textural composition with the occasional subtlety to keep it pertinent with the rest of the album. “Child Of The Elder Blood” is a dreamy arrangement that combines pastoral synth leads and melancholic drones. It’s as if you’re having an out-of-body experience and this track is maintaining a trajectory to propel you to another plane. This is an amazing piece and another one of my favorites. “The Path Of Warriors” is more on the lines of a traditional Dungeon Synth song with lo-if synth effects, combined with soft, flowing winds and a beautiful backing synth arrangement. From chirping birds, a warrior drawing his sword to an overall peaceful setting, this is another outstanding track and is sure to gain multiple listens. The final track on the album is the epic, “The Lord Of Undvik”. At almost eleven and a half minutes Lin length, it’s the longest track on the album and the most diverse. Beginning with the usual field recordings and soundscapes, an ominous drone carries forth in the background and flows persuasively from side to side, as it fuses into layers of ghastly synth leads and battle-like soundscapes, as if a deranged outcome was suddenly bestowed upon an unlikely kingdom. This haunting track concludes with devilish laughter and dark ambient-like drones and a perplexing end to this fantastical story.

I’m so glad that the Noctilucant mastermind decided to venture out and try his hand at Dungeon Synth. Not only is it a highly impressive album, but it showcases quite a story as well. There is adventure, cinematic music, a daring mix of genres and an entertainment value that will definitely keep this album in my play list for a long time to come. I highly recommend checking out this amazing album as well as all the other incredible albums on the Noctilucant Bandcamp page. Please click on the link below and download “A Silent Vigil For Oncoming Plagues “ by Gavella Glan.

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Links:

https://noctilucant.bandcamp.com/album/a-silent-vigil-for-oncoming-plagues

Ambitious And Hypnotizing, Dagmar Gertot Conjures An Enrapturing Improvisational Chronicle Called ‘Os Lacrimale’

I remember my first time experiencing Scott Walker’s ‘The Drift’ album back in 2006. For those that are not familiar, Scott Walker is a singer-songwriter that had a string of avant-garde albums late in his career, which were a heretical change of pace from his pop beginnings. At any rate, ‘The Drift’ (at the time) was one of the most mesmerizing recordings I’ve ever heard, and at times, it was downright terrifying as well. Fast forward to present times, and once again I am feeling the exact emotional state with Dagmar Gertot’s debut album on Cyclic Law, ‘Os Lacrimale’. Eight tracks of vocal and instrumental improvisations that invoke a sentiment of aimless wander and endless nightmares.

The merriment begins with the portentous “Iron Cradle”. Commencing with a single, unbridled note – that seems to be a fusion of a horned and stringed instrument – the vocals suddenly belt out with an inaudible presence, but present heavy Middle Eastern influences with regards to vocal control and technique. This is improvisation at its best, as there is a particular chemistry between the instrumentation and vocalist that will certainly resonate with the audience. Next up is “Non Healing Wound” and although it slowly crescendos out of darkness, a maniacal presence will soon unfold by way of chilling stringed instruments and mesmerizing vocal effects. This one is a slow builder and finds every aspect of the arrangement coming together in a deranged harmonic variance, while the vocal performance creates a segregated instrument that stands out all on its own. “Snake Dance” starts with an operatic-like vocal performance that assembles with layers of odd harmonies. Although just over a minute long, this track packs a powerful punch and truly showcases the talent of Dagmar Gertot. “Delirious” is one of my favorite songs on the album as it is as entertaining as it is mysterious. Vocals are, once again, perfectly layered and in the background, ritualistic instrumentation sets a bleak scene that is soon filled with Oriental influences and haunting soundscapes. “Two-Headed Roe Deer” begins with crackles and hisses of vintage tape loops, while random stringed-instrument screeches and off-key piano notes create a dismal soundtrack for the vocal performance that – at times – wanders off in the distance. “Pyromaniac” emerges as an a cappella track with soft, layered vocals and an underlying track of deep grunts and growls. Without notice, various instruments play in alliance, but with different types arrangements, as if they are out of synchronization and trying to find their way to a unified sound. Toward the end, the vocal patterns become more eccentric, as if anxiously finding a rhythm to latch on to for a continued aural assault. “Nude Metemorph” begins with choir like vocal harmonies being played in a dream state. As the vocals become more eclectic, the dream turns into a nightmare, intensifying the listening experience. The music for this track is down right dreary and the vocals are some of the most chilling to be heard yet. The final track on the album is “Anathema”. Starting with a refreshing vocal harmony of inaudible cadence, random piano keys create an abhorrent atmosphere that is sure to induce a trance-like state (if allowed). At times, it seems as if the vocals and piano are trading off, telling two versions of an intense story that has no words, but one that can be felt through the power of music and emotions.

Dagmar Gertot’s bold statement of vocal and instrumental improvisations on her first album, ‘Os Lacrimale’ is a magnificent listen and widely open for interpretation. Although I mentioned a comparison to the great Avant-garde artist, Scott Walker, in my opening remarks, Dagmar Gertot transcends any single genre or classification and doesn’t deserve to be held back by any barriers. Whether you’re into ambient, experimental, ritualistic sounds Or avant-garde, ‘Os Lacrimale’ will definitely appeal to your musical taste. I highly recommend this unique artist, so please head over to the Cyclic Law Bandcamp page, or click on the link below to download this amazing album.

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Links:

https://cycliclaw.bandcamp.com/album/os-lacrimale

Hasufel Spreads Anguish Into The Halls Of Madness With Synth-Spectacular, ‘Exaltation’

‘Exaltation’ has been a highly anticipated release ever since the advertisements and promo packages have been putting out exciting information on the music contained within for the past few months. For me, it provoked a sense of enthusiasm for really wanting to dive in and examine the power of each track. With just four songs and about twenty minutes of playing time, I expected this one to hit hard right from the opening note until the final one. So after have experiencing this album at least five or six times now, do I think it lives up to the hype? Absolutely…and then some! ‘Exaltation’ is a seamless blend of Dungeon Synth, Winter Synth and Dark Ambient with superb vocal narrations and effects, as well as ominous soundscapes and field recordings. This is quite the unique listening experience and definitely a rewarding one.

“School Of The Prophets” begins with eerie drones and sinister, lo-fi soundscapes, depicting a true scenery of dungeon vibes and heinous Medieval existence. Winter synth tones come into the equation and are quite melodic, but as an addition to the darkened tones, it’s presents a grim listening experience. Pastoral narrations add a maniacal and dreadful emotion that may seem overwhelming, but fits in perfectly to maintain the gloomy ambiance. The song closes out with a single – high-pitched – tones that leads right in to, “White Mildew”, another bleak affair that showcases what it would have been like to be committed to a lifetime of Dungeon-dwelling existence. The slight echo on the voice narrations is reminiscent of early 90’s Black Metal ambient sections – desolate and ominous at best. Although keyboards are used in a minimalistic setting, they fuse perfectly with the atmosphere of this track. “Salvación” is a slow builder, almost tribal-like, with more outstanding narrative parts. This time there is a vocal variant that is added, expanding the density of the soundscapes and field recordings. This track is almost in the realm of ritualistic black ambient, and is one of my favorite recordings on the album. However, amongst the chaos, it ends on an austere, but peaceful note. The final song on the album is the title track, “Exaltation”. From the very beginning, it emits very creepy vibes with heavily reverberated piano tracks and almost circus-like anthems, as if a great show was coming to a close. This is a grand meshing of the senses, as it is part whimsical and part malevolent. It’s like chaos with paralysis and a perfect way to end this short but amazing album.

Hasufel fuses the best of both worlds – speaking specifically of Dungeon Synth and Dark Ambient. Although ‘Exaltation’ doesn’t fit firmly in either of these genres, the prodigious tracks contained within takes the best of both genres and expands them to a realm of unimaginable terror and viscous imagery. I’m completely fascinated by this recording and it reminds me of 90’s Black Metal as well, especially with the dissonant ambient interludes that create the horrific scenes between the tracks of hateful riffing. I highly recommend checking out ‘Exaltation’ if any of the above-mentioned descriptives appeal to you. I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed, so click on the link below and download this spectacular album.

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Links:

https://pacificthrenodies.bandcamp.com/album/exaltation

Celestial Ephemerides: A Collection Of Dark Ambient Summary Reviews, Part II

The Dark Ambient community is such a prodigious one, consumed with brilliant artists that release some of the most diverse albums in – what is widely considered – one of the most minimalistic spectrums in music. That being said, I’m proud to present round two of my Dark Ambient summary reviews, that finds many of these artists broadening that spectrum with some of the most divergent tunes I’ve heard in a long time. I hope you enjoy reading these and please support these amazing artists as the continue to progress their musical achievements.

1. Aldebaran’s Nebulah – Deep Form Of Cosmic Signals

Cosmic, Lo-Fi dark ambience that depicts a cold and callous realm beyond the reach of any civilization. Soothing and minimalistic, each track portrays the bleakest depths of space with hints extraterrestrial effects and soundscapes. Although just two tracks, this is a very enjoyable outing and I’m looking forward to more by this artist.

https://aldebaransnebulah.bandcamp.com/album/deep-form-of-cosmic-signals

2. Veinte 33 Records Compilation – From Perihelion To Aphelion

Veinte 33 Records has quite the impressive lineup of artists and releases, producing stellar ambient and obscure efforts on a consistent basis. For those that are not familiar, can start with this amazing compilation album that showcases some of their most incredible talents. From nominal soundscapes to bizarre discordance, these fourteen tracks provide a massive eighty minutes of impressive music. Some of my favorite artists on here include Colonial Skyway, Trucking To Tokyo, ExistenZ & WhaltHisney. I highly recommend this collection!

https://veinte33records.bandcamp.com/album/from-perihelion-to-aphelion-a-veinte-33-records-compilation

3. Sabled Sun – 2149

When it comes to Sabled Sun, I honestly prefer the ‘Signals’ space ambient series over the ‘21xx’ post-apocalyptic ambient series. However, I still love the ‘21xx’ series and ‘2149’ is the perfect addition to the dystopian storyline. Everything about this album is just perfect – the field recordings, desolate piano chops, soundscapes, and even the tape hisses & vinyl scratches gives it a wonderful nostalgic feeling. One of my favorite Dark Ambient albums of 2021 so far!

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/2149

4. Taphephobia – Blue Hour

Cyclic Law continues their unfathomable streak of enthralling releases with the captivating sounds of Taphephobia. ‘Blue Hour’ provides a slow-motion listening experience of ethereal proportions and the magnitude of the soundscapes expand beyond the grand sphere of audial bliss. If you close your eyes and really absorb this album, you’ll find yourself having a euphoric out-of-body experience.

https://cycliclaw.bandcamp.com/album/blue-hour

5. Anastasia Vronski – In The Dark

If atmospheric chaos and turmoil is your thing, look no further than ‘In The Dark’ by Anastasia Vronski. With two tracks of industrialized black ambience decimating the inner ear cavity for over thirty one minutes, there is no room for recovery and little chance of survival – if your mind is not prepared for this raw and austere journey. This is a very impressive release and hopefully this sonic creation is just the beginning of a string of amazing albums.

https://kalaminerecords.bandcamp.com/album/in-the-dark

6. MNZKRT – MNZKRT

What’s better than thirty five minutes of heavily distorted drone tunes suffused with deep modulations, glitches and eerie soundscapes? Not much, if this sort of audio terror is your thing. ‘MNZKRT’ is an unusual recording but surprisingly captivating with spacious atmospherics of the highest order. I highly recommend checking this out.

https://mnzkrt.bandcamp.com/album/mnzkrt

7. Material Loss – EP

This is an amazing recording that borders the dimensions of harsh black ambient and minimalistic soundscapes with hints of industrialized madness. These four tracks take the listen to an alternate reality, where escape from apocalyptic terror is imminent but highly unlikely. At times bleak and consoling but the remainder of the aural duration is spent with glitches and disturbing sound resilience. This one is best played with the lights down low and a few lit candles to set the mood.

https://materialloss.bandcamp.com/album/ep

8. BECKAHESTEN – Vattenhålens Dräpare

This album is the result of the fortunate collision of nature and a dystopian future of another dimension. These soundscapes are purely cinematic and chronicle an intriguing story of world hereafter. Chanting vocals, haunting narrations and tribal drumming add to the mystique of this adventure and it is sure to garner many repeat plays.

https://cycliclaw.bandcamp.com/album/vattenh-lens-dr-pare

9. Shedir – Finite Infinity

‘Finite Infinity’ is the perfect blend of dreamy space ambience and cinematic soundscapes, fused with elements of both light and dark ambience. Shedir capitalizes on these strengths and creates a bold style of synth-based music that is inductive of trance-like repercussions as well as a sense of ambiguous emotions. Although I wasn’t previously familiar with this artist, it’s safe to say that these songs will continue to be in heavy playlist rotation.

https://cycliclaw.bandcamp.com/album/finite-infinity

10. Aegri Somnia – Nusquam

If I had to pick at least one artist on the Cryo Chamber Label that consistently gave me a sense of strained settlement with each release, it would be Aegri Somnia. These are some of the most well-crafted dark ambient songs that have been released by the artist and there is a steady flow of cinematic quality that can’t be overlooked. One thing that particularly stands out is the excellent use of field recordings and how they extend the listening experience through various cosmic realms.

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

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Askiburgion Mists Invades Dead Air Space With Lo-Fi Dark Ambient Monument, ‘Rübezahl’s Kingdom’

Sometimes DIY musical projects create the biggest impact due to the personal nature of the compositions and how they captivate their audience. Sure, we love over-the-top production quality – especially when it comes to Dark Ambient music – but the rawness of self-production seems to hit home when the music is on point. Askiburgion Mists is a prime example of this scenario and with ‘Rübezahl’s Kingdom’, gritty, minimalistic dark ambience paints a bleak picture of nature’s malevolent ways. Although consisting of only three short tracks (in terms of Dark Ambient songs), they could have easily come from a past dimension, where early-90’s Black Metal albums relied on haunting ambience to manifest terroristic visions.

“Morning” slowly fades in, just as a gloomy sunrise would try to appear through a thick fog at daybreak. Production hisses add a grim fidelity that’s not normally prevalent on Dark Ambient recordings. As this minimalistic rush rises and falls with ambiguity, a sense of esoteric desires complicates the mood but doesn’t distract from the trance-like patterns that remain intact. Before the track ends, there is actually a nice melodic arrangement that fits in rather well before it abruptly comes to a halt. Next up is the field recording heavy, “Kingdom”. Commencing with a dense rain sound, hypnotizing drones begin to materialize, creating a baseline for desolate refrain. Scarce embellishments of soundscapes are used throughout, creating a callous atmosphere of darkly arranged instrumentation that are thought provoking. The final track, “Dream Of Giants”, is the most exploratory composition on the album and it (hopefully) sets the stage for more exciting adventures from Askiburgion Mists. Utilizing an array of field recordings and soundscapes, they are masterfully fused with dismal drones setting an enchanting environment of dark times, where hopes of a peaceful future has fallen victim to dystopian accord. This is my favorite track on the album and I’m hoping that more music of this nature is released soon.

Askiburgion Mists is an astonishing up-and-coming Dark Ambient artist that demands to be heard. Although only an EP and a single has been released on the artists’ Bandcamp page, they are both excellent musical endeavors and would be a great addition to anyones Dark Ambient collection. The grungy, lo-fi production is a standout quality for this album and it also provides a unique spin on the typical Dark Ambient sound. Please click on the link below and support this amazing album and artist.

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Links:

https://askiburgionmists.bandcamp.com/album/r-bezahls-kingdom-demo