Guan Yin Video Premiere For “Repentance II”

In May of 2020, I reviewed an extremely diverse and unique collaboration album released on Akashic Envoy Records called ‘Apostils Against Hegemony, Vol. I: Transitive Properties’. Although that album contained thirty three extraordinary tracks, I detailed ten of them that stood out the most. Amongst those standout tracks was “Evocation I” by Guan Yin. The ritualistic essence laid a foundation for bleak drones, discordant vocals and black ambience and left me wanting more. The time has finally come for a new track and I’m extremely excited to present the video for “Repentance II”. It’s everything that I expected it to be and so much more. I hope you enjoy this song as much as I do and please visit the links at the bottom of the page.

Information from the artist/label:

Guan Yin: a ritual ambient project from multi-instrumentalist Cicatrix (Nodus Tollens, Chernozem – they/them)) and vocalist Espi Kvlt (Seas of Winter, Apricitas, Nehushtan – they/he).

In much the same way that the duo’s other collaboration Exsanguinated Shade doesn’t fit neatly within the parameters of a single genre, Guan Yin doesn’t approach ritual ambient in the traditional way. For starters, there are no occult themes in the duo’s music – Espi Kvlt is a practicing Buddhist, and all of their lyrics come from Buddhist texts. From a musical perspective, Cicatrix draws as much inspiration from power electronics artists like Prurient and Theologian as they do from the ritualistic sounds of Corona Barathri or Emme Ya.

For the dark and frequently harrowing half of their split with cinematic ambient duo Sun Through Eyelids, Espi Kvlt took their lyrics from the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, specifically the section on Repentance. They chose that particular text because they were struggling with a mistake they made around the same time the duo were working on the split, and when dealing with serious life issues, the way they tend to overcome the pain and suffering from said issues is by making music. By focusing on the Repentance section of the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, they were able to heal through singing the words and forgive themselves for said mistake. While no amount of repentance can ever truly eliminate the pain caused to another, it can serve to spread good will into the world and bring loving-kindness to any beings we have wronged.

The Sun Through Eyelids/Guan Yin split will be available on cassette from Acepahle Winter Productions on March 19. Limited to 50 copies on metallic silver shells. Preorders launch on March 5.

Links:

https://guanyin.bandcamp.com

https://acephalewinter.bandcamp.com

https://sunthrougheyelids.bandcamp.com

Randal Collier-Ford Ventures Down A Dark, Ritualistic Path on ‘Advent’

If you’re in the market for Dark Ambient that is loaded with substance and distinction, then look no further than Randal Collier-Ford. His unmistakable sound hangs in the balance between desolate drones and ritualistic terror. Somewhere amidst that rudimentary structure, frays of industrial modulations, sonic soundscapes and transcendental field recordings integrate seamlessly to present his signature take on Dark Ambient madness. However, on his latest effort, ‘Advent’, we find a broader approach to the songwriting venture, presenting a more melodic and cinematic sound than ever before. Ranging from effervescent orchestrations to tonal black ambience, ‘Advent’ is the Randal Collier-Ford album I’ve been waiting to hear for a very long time.

The opening track is the near twenty minute long juggernaut, “Beckoning Absurd Shapes”. It begins as expected – bleak, desolate soundscapes with a calm-before-the-storm approach. The drones ascend like low, howling winds and the sound of horns that resembles an early warning alarm enacts in the distance. Disturbing vibes continue to play out, creating an environment of angst and dread. Prolonged stringed arrangements add a slight gothic presence with a noir sediment. Ritualistic undertones in the form of dark, inaudible chants add a necessary layer of power and sonic presence to this track as it continues to ebb and flow with its audible storyline. The last half of this track is inundated with ghastly drones, beautiful stringed compositions and a variety of field recordings that will keep the listener engaged in this visionary conquest. The next track is “Eyes Of The Temple (feat. Northumbria)”. Northumbria – known for their textured guitar and bass recordings – adds a gripping layer of coldness that embodies the true essence of minimalistic ambience. The musical combination of these artists establishes a dreadful world of chaos and darkness that builds into a massive wall of sound. The star attraction in this track is the grandiose guitar reverb. It creates a sound so hollow and disturbing that it’s bound to create nightmarish effects. The final track on the album is the twelve minute long “The Second Wound”. Commencing with powerful drones of a destructive nature, this song slowly ascends into a world of desolate visions. A sultry piano arrangement leads into a tribal drum line of war-like proportions. Enormous soundscapes and industrialized summonings bring forth a climactic ending as the drones fade between the bombastic percussive parts. The track finally comes to a close, as the drums dissolve, leaving synth pads to create a fulfilling ending.

Randal Collier-Ford never disappoints, and has always delivered amazing results on his previous albums. However, with ‘Advent’, he’s stepped up his game and has conveyed his best performance yet. The epic track lengths make the difference for me, as they allow for the atmospherics to captivate the mind and dominate the emotional state. The Cryo Chamber label continues their effortless run of outstanding releases that continue to pioneer the Dark Ambient genre and ‘Advent’ embodies that streak completely. I highly recommend checking this one out so click on the link below and download this amazing album.

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Links:

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

Aleksis Tristan Shaw Reveals An Array Of Influences On The Cinematic ‘Drones Of The Hive’

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard to soak in and preserve a lasting affection for many of the albums that I review. It’s not that I don’t like them, in fact, I’ve been fortunate to love everything that I’ve reviewed up to this point. Once I’m finished with one, I tend to put that album on the back burner (for a while), so that I can move on to the next. However, there are many instances where an album stops me dead in my tracks and enthralls me for multiple listens, with an extended staying time on my iPhone. ‘Drones Of The Hive’ by Aleksis Tristan Shaw is one of those albums. Not your typical Dark Ambient release, this one digs deep into emotional wounds with grandiose, cinematic energy, ominous synth leads, and an endless supply of menacing soundscapes & textures that set the mood for continual meditative euphoria. The ten imposing tracks contained within, offer variety, horror, substance, and unequivocal entertainment for the better part of forty eight minutes. Let’s take a deeper dive into each of these tracks.

The album commences with the somber, “Human Remainder”. Soft keys and pads drift sadly as they create a lush melody that will instantly reel the listener in. Soon after, harsh, looping keyboard tones ring out like a warning alarm while the cinematic instrumentation increases. “Vestigial Cries” begins with low, tonal sounds that set a grim mood. High-pitched drones oscillate throughout the track, providing a glimmer of hope to the emotional vibe that was previously set. Layers of synths piece this track together boldly with hints of dissonance and conflict while never loosing focus on the contemplative state. “Shamanic Atavism” is brimming with discordant synth leads while the background sounds like a black metal style song into. This track is very dark, yet dreamy and introspective. “Tenement Graves” is another gloomy piece that features the sounds of a crackling fire and a nifty drum beat that fits right in with the pace of the synths. As the percussive parts change up, multi-layers of quixotic keys & pads provide a grandiose audial platform that’s so easy to get lost in. “Dukkha And Anatman” is a multifaceted track that goes from horror score, minimalistic droning, to cinematic bliss. The use of percussive elements really stick out as well, making this one of my favorite tracks on the album. “Drifting Consciousness” renders terrifying drones, looping soundscapes and unidentifiable noises that will keep the listener on edge. Although this is one of the shorter tracks on the album, it succeeds at masking a horrifying feeling of dread. “Fugitive Drone” is an addictive listen, as the quirky keys & pads fuse perfectly with the cosmic drones, proposing the feeling of a doomed celestial mission. About halfway in, a blast of malevolence alters the tempo, setting up for a lifeless finale that can’t be altered. On the polar opposite of the scale is “Untethered”. Looping tape hisses, minimalistic drones and obscure field recordings dominate this track and when the pulsating drum beat is initiated, it gets that much better. Amongst the crackles and pops, this is actually a really smooth and mellow song that deserves multiple listens. “Caravan Of Outcasts” begins with an ambiguous orchestral arrangement, like a symphony warming up in various keys just before the conductor provides the signal to silence everyone before starting a performance. However, there is beauty amongst the chaos, as melody can be heard throughout. Wind chimes and other field recordings add a layer of organic texture that makes this one stand out as well. The final offering on this wondrous album is, “The Wastelands”. Even though it’s less than three minutes long, this light ambient opus is full of emotions and provides a cleansing affect on the mind and soul. The energy surrounding these hollow drones is breathtaking and it seems to ends too quickly.

Aleksis Tristan Shaw certainly has an ear for not only Dark Ambient but synth music in general. Whether fascinating the listener with cinematic soundscapes, horrifying drones or melodic synth leads, Aleksis Tristan Shaw knows how to administer the perfect blend of music and emotion and the result of that fusion is ‘Drones Of The Hive’. If you’re into ambient recording with meticulous detail and a variety of flavors, then please show your support by downloading this amazing album from the link below. This is truly a masterpiece in sound quality and music depth and it deserves your attention.

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Links:

https://aleksistristanshaw.bandcamp.com/album/drones-of-the-hive

The Wyndham Research Institute Constructs A Retro-Grade Space Ambient Album With The Cosmic, ‘Interim Report No. 57: Io Transmitter Sub-Committee’ Release

When we think about the characteristics of space ambient music, usually deep, prolonged drones come to mind and they are complimented by resounding soundscapes that are celestial in nature. As a listener, we often feel as if we are alone on a spacecraft traveling through deep space on a doomed mission. However, not all space ambient albums have to carry out the same accord and that’s none more apparent than on the latest album by Wyndham Research Institute, ‘Interim Report No. 57: Io Transmitter Sub-Committee’. Elongated drones are replaced with retro synths and cosmic soundscapes that are more inline with a 60’s science fiction show soundtrack than modern space ambient. Fortunately, that’s the beauty of versatility in music and the creative complex. Although these compositions seem nostalgic, they are effective in creating a dark, intricate atmosphere that’s perfect for any ordinary space adventure.

Each of the seven tracks are presented as notes, as if to represent a transmitted sequence at a particular point of time. Right from the start, “Note I” has a retrospective feel and presents sound effects that could have be heard on a 60’s science fiction show. Minimalistic noises and tones serve as a beacon of nostalgia, just as older spacecraft lack the technology of newer ones. “Note II” begins with obscure modulation bends and frequency adjustments, as a smooth drone sets in to define the mission at hand. Organic effects tend to be a bit distorted and at around the halfway point, more antiquated tones generate a puzzling nuance as if an impromptu meeting with a foreign being is about to take place. The start of “Note III” reminds me of a special effect that Tool or Voivod would use, just before setting into a crushing riff. However, Wyndham Research Institute decides to dial back the noise to a low-frequency drone and more obscure soundscapes. Random ticks and buzzes play on throughout the track, making this a really unique experience. “Note IV” commences slowly into a hollow drone with piercing signals mixed in. Soon after, an 80’s-style horror themed synth pattern begins to play, making this one of the most terrifying tracks on the album. Assorted scratches and screeches intensify the scene as these unidentifiable patterns can only mean mayhem. “Note V” is like a spark of controlled chaos, as various discordances are fused together to present a grueling environment filled with intense moments and obscure happenings. Melodic keys are played throughout, adding a bit of peculiarity to this bizarre track. “Note VI” is one of the most accessible songs yet, as the smooth flowing drones prevail from the very beginning and ascend into layers of deep space bliss. Light soundscapes and an acoustic guitar strum are introduced as well, creating an intoxicating adventure. However, the additional attributes don’t last too long, as they slowly fade out and all that’s left is an austere drone to finish out the track. The final song on the album is “Note VII”. Commencing with a high-pitched frequency vibration and distorted ambience, the track shape-shifts into a mild-tempered hum with a slight Berlin School influence. The heartbeat-like percussive element is a welcomed sound to this final track as many new musical forms are merged together to what may be the best track on the album. The final minute consists of a continuous hiss, reminiscent of a combustion chamber of a spacecraft, thwarting a lonely cosmonaut into the far reaches of the universe.

Wyndham Research Institute have uniquely carved their own path for creating a variety of Dark Ambient, influenced by science fiction of an obsolete sound. This is also a breath of fresh air in the ever-growing Ambient community where modern, complex themes dominate most recordings. ‘Interim Report No. 57: Io Transmitter Sub-Committee’ is a rare treat for the Space Ambient sub-genre and is an unprecedented achievement for modern synth music. I highly recommend checking out this album so please support Wyndham Research Institute by download it from the link below.

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Links:

https://wyndhamresearch.bandcamp.com/album/interim-report-no-57-io-transmitter-sub-committee

Ashtoreth & Chthonia Join Forces To Conjure Ritualistic Ordeals On ‘Throne Of Astrōarchē’

To me, Dark Ambient is much more that a listening experience. It’s also a journey into ones own mind, to the realm where the conscious and subconscious rarely fuse together. Even though the soothing – often grim – elongated drones elevates our psyche to the realms of the unknown and produce a trance-like emotional state, there are other variables to consider as well. In the case of the magnificent collaborative effort of Ashtoreth & Chthonia, the use of ritualistic soundscapes, haunting narrations and chilling black metal-esque shrills can also produce a comparable outcome. On ‘Throne Of Astrōarchē’, four sinister compositions is all that is needed to coalesce the inner oracles of the mind, releasing a feeling of modular discomfort and ethereal tranquility.

To begin the ceremonial happenings, “Asir” boldly combine many of the elements I previously mentioned. Dark, liturgical soundscapes make a menacing introduction as they are combined with insane Black Metal styled vocal effects and sacred narrations that will have the listener fully engaged. Void of any prolonged drones, it is replaced by creepy sound effects that enhance the grim vocal arrangements. “Nehalennia” commences with a consoling drone that captures the essence of spiritual beauty, along with various soundscapes and ringing bells. I love how nothing is rushed, allowing for the mood of the music to take hold of the listener and bring them into this dark, captivating world. At almost seventeen and a half minutes long, there is plenty of time for many additional things to occur that will build this mystical journey to be remembered. At around the four minute mark, the drones begin to assemble in layers, creating a space-like vibe. However, as soon as the vocals come in, this track takes on a whole new meaning. This song has such an esoteric vibe that it’s so easy to get lost in its dark beauty. Even at its epic length, this song just isn’t long enough and is easily my favorite one on the album. “Marmarospilia” begins with a field recording of a rain storm and what sounds like crashing waves. However it is soon joined by warm drones and synthwave-like keys and pads, producing more of an obscure sound than on the previous tracks. The layering of these elements create such a massive atmosphere, even with a minimalistic arrangement. This fascinating combination carries on for the better part of twelve minutes and the time passes much quicker that it seems. The final track on the album, “Baetyl”, opens with ominous, howling winds that – at times – screech at piercing volumes. Soon after, the combination of soft, effervescent vocals and deep, guttural tones of throat singing begin to emerge as if providing the main drone for the near fifteen minute long track. Various spots of soft whispers and devilish shrills continue to tell an eerie story that remains gloomy and mysterious. Several times throughout the track, the vocal intensity increases, but always descends into darkness as to not take away from the ritualistic experience. The malevolent chanting that occurs in the last few minutes are epic and I really wish there was more occurrences of this on the album. However, that doesn’t distract from the fact that this song has a certain purity that is nearly perfect from start to finish.

I’ve been a big fan of Ashtoreth for quite some time now and I enjoy the emotional journey he creates through his music. His diverse back catalog crosses several music genres, yet his energy remains the same throughout. This effort, along with Chthonia, is no exception as it takes the listener on a bleak, ritualistic journey that is as haunting as it is cleansing. I highly recommend this album for those of you that like to wander beyond the normal boundaries of Dark Ambient, especially if the addition of harrowing vocals and narrations are your thing. ‘Throne Of Astrōarchē’ is the album for you and it demands to be taken seriously. Please support this outstanding collaboration and download this album from the link below.

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Links:

https://ashtoreth1.bandcamp.com/album/throne-of-astr-arch

Robert Eggplant Leans On Expansive Field Recordings And Tangible Surroundings To Offer The Organic Sounds Of ‘Fields Of Yarrow’

The recordings of Robert Eggplant are a rare commodity in the Dark Ambient community. Instead of relying heavily on intense drones, elongated synth notes & pads, he cultivates a unique sound built around field recordings, tape loops & hisses, and guitar manipulations. That’s not to say there aren’t any synths involved, but it’s just not the “go to” instrument of choice. In the end, Robert Eggplant succeeds in constructing a decaying sound that is grim and – at times – down right sinister. As if the sound exploits of the first two albums weren’t enough to blow you away, ‘Fields Of Yarrow’ is released as a magnifying effort to the stunning elements of the previous two albums. At just over an hour long, this seductive offering is meditative and trance inducing but the constant subtleties will keep your sensory level sharp and aware of the ominous effects that skulk without warning.

Album opener, “Absorbence” finds a myriad of field recordings fused together in a pristine effort and cemented by the lull strums of a guitar. Storm winds, rain and other natural sounds present the illusion of nature in its most sedative state. This is where Robert Eggplant excels the most, as though some of these nuances are dark and abrasive, he brings them all together in a soothing package that has complete meditative value. Continuing on, a few tracks later we find “9/18/20”. I’m not sure of the significance of the title but the field recordings suggest a date that may have been great for venturing out and enjoying nature’s elements. The placid flow of an isolated stream is powerful enough to calm the greatest of temperaments and the ominous instrumentation flows just as smooth. “Deer Park” is a short piece but is one of my favorite tracks on the album. The music is quite ghastly and a slight distortion on the drones creates a bucolic feel. “Poetry Is Best Read In Braille” is another standout tracks as it features monumental tape loops and deformed hisses, mixed with a rainstorm field recording. The additional “close up” rain drops add a personal touch as well. Twisted guitar chords produce a manic touch to this esoteric song. Skipping over a few more tracks, we find the dreamy “Absconded Prisoner”. Haunting guitar reverberations with a retro-style texture start things off and then fades into wicked drones, minimalistic soundscapes and field recordings. From start to finish this track is completely hypnotizing. The last track that I’d like to spotlight is the final song on the album, “Warrior’s Bracelet”. This track epitomizes the quest for complete sound manipulation as massive use of reverb, distortion and tape loop reconstruction creates an atmosphere of controlled chaos that is as much chill as it is anxious. The creepy vibe resonates throughout this near six minute track and the end result is beautifully disturbing.

Robert Eggplant is one of the most unique Dark Ambient artists I’ve had the pleasure of listening to and his releases are unprecedented with regard to sound deconstruction, use of field recordings and overall ingenuity of crafting experimental songs. The latest album, ‘Fields Of Yarrow’ is no exception and the thirteen songs contained within form a perfect bond between the listener, music and the dark side of nature. Please show your support for this exceptional artist and download ‘Field Of Sorrow’ from the link below.

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Links:

https://roberteggplant.bandcamp.com/album/fields-of-yarrow

Destruktionsanstalt Resurrects A Cluster Of Menacing Tracks From Various Projects To Comprise The Superbly Written ‘Kaelder Mug’

Destruktionsanstalt is no stranger to The Dungeon In Deep Space site, as I reviewed the mighty 2018 offering, ‘Døds-hymner’. Fueled with industrialized anguish and a powerful artillery of noise, this was a pinnacle album of harsh dark ambience. Fast forward to 2020 and we find the compilation release of ‘Kaelder Mug’, an undeniable distribution of sickening atmospherics amongst several projects by Per Najbjerg Odderskov – the mastermind behind Destruktionsanstalt – that are being unearthed and brought to dark light. Destruktionsanstalt, God Cancer, and Lidane Livering set a new standard in breaching critical mass with deep ambient drones, sinister soundscapes and the harshest of noise modulations and combined, formulate a seventy two minute album that will appeal to the minds of malevolence.

The first eight songs come from pitch-shift master, Destruktionsanstalt. Combining jolting frequencies that pierce the inner ear and sustain a constant discontent for easy listening, these tracks are not just a mine field of random noises. They are randomly crafted oscillations that fuse with morbid soundscapes and narrative samples to create a meaningful soundtrack of crafty intonations. Album opener, “Familia” begins with gloomy tones in the form of layered drones with heavy distorted sequences. Voice samples tell an eerie story and it matches the music perfectly. A couple of tracks later, “Mali Spiritus” blasts off with sharp, piercing resonance and alternates between high and low decibels as if an alarm is providing an early warning for an unfamiliar doomsday. Again, a progression of audible narrations play a major role in deciding the anxious outcome of things. “Sanguinem Pressura” is nearly four and a half minutes of agonizing modulations that deliver some rabid drones and horrifying soundscapes. This is one of those tracks that are not for the faint of heart and is best played in a dark, cold place to receive its full affect. The final Destruktionsanstalt track is “Hic Sunt Dracones”. Commencing with a desolate wind field recording, the radiant, penetrating noise accents suddenly desecrate all in its path. As the wind volume picks up, so does the noise intensity. Together these sounds are mesmerizing and easily succeed at putting the listener into a catatonic-like state for its duration. Samples and various effects can be heard throughout, adding an evil value to this already mind-bending tune. The next three tracks come from the God Cancer project. Although there is still a noise intensity about those songs, there is more of a cosmic vibe to them, thrusting the listener into the farther most reaches of the harsh realms of the universe. The first track, “Midnight Distortions” contains a great dose of glitch recordings and immense pads to radiate the intensity that much more. It’s as if being sucked through a black hole and an dodging an oncoming asteroid field at the same time is unavoidable. “The City Is Alive” is like a sonic nightmare, as this seven plus minute track sees multi-layers of modulations glitch and bend endlessly, catapulting the brainwaves into an unexplained dimension. The final two tracks are from the Lidane Livering project and although these two tracks are probably more accessible than the previous, they are far from being insidious. The final track on the album, “Dunwich”, epitomizes the field recording technique and heavy use of soundscapes makes this minimalistic song a cold adventure all in itself. With the soft sways of an ocean vessel the ripple effects of passing currents, the calm-before-the-storm scenario is close at hand. Soothing drones and inaudible whispers howl in the background and without recoil, it all quietly disappears.

I’m a big fan of Destruktionsanstalt and I really enjoy the intriguing mix of dark ambient and harsh noise that this project provides on a consistent basis. With ‘Kaelder Mug’, we get a fascinating compilation of not only Destruktionsanstalt tracks, but an excellent glimps into two other amazing projects – God Cancer and Lidane Livering. Although the Bandcamp page for this release lists these tracks as part of abandoned projects, I sure hope this is not the last we’ll hear from any of these acts. If you like your Dark Ambient with a touch of harsh noises, look no further than ‘Kaelder Mug’. You can download this awesome piece of work at the link below.

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Links:

https://marbrenegre.bandcamp.com/album/kaelder-mug

https://destruktionsanstalt.bandcamp.com

https://godcancer.bandcamp.com/releases

https://lidanelivering.bandcamp.com

Lenitive Drones Of An Evocative Manner Prevail On Afnimaran’s Supreme Composition, ‘Graveyard Orbit’

When preparing myself for music reviews, specifically ones of the Dark Ambient genre, I put myself in almost a meditative-like state – at least for a few listens – so that I can fully comprehend the atmosphere and theme of the album at hand. Even though the genre is mostly minimalistic, I receive a great sense of emotional fulfillment with every listen of every album. For me there is no greater force than the true power of music. Afnimaran’s ‘Graveyard Orbit’ epitomizes that standard with a renewed vigor for maximizing space with haunting drones and quaint soundscapes. There is a dark, lurking presence on this recording but it also feels like total fear of singularity as well. I can imagine the silent void of decommissioned satellites, orbiting the earth in a cold endless loop as their powerless shell continues its useless and endless saga. The seven tracks constructed for this album supply a grueling soundtrack for their lifeless mission that is not far fetched from the equivalent depressive state of human kind.

“Nostromo” glides on an ominous trajectory as airy drones and nefarious soundscapes collide in this colossal album opener. Like an orbiting satellite drifting silently at seven thousand miles per hour, its speed is almost deafening as it appears dormant to the naked eye. As the drones modulate from high to low tones, malevolent sound effects predict a soon yet violent ending. “Heighliner” begins with grim pads and keys, making sounds equivalent to the voids of deep space. Soon, a rush of steady drones come in to play, pulsating the track to vociferous heights. The moderate frequency adjustments warrant an agonizing intonation and the doomed trek further away from natural light sources continue. “BC-304” rushes in with urgency as soundscapes and haunting loops influence this piece. Piercing tones and buzzes placate at unknown variables but leave a pillage of audible distraught in its wake. Although the drones aren’t predominate on this track, a steady amount of background hum and dead air plays fierce surprise to the ears. “Enterprise-D” commences with disturbingly peaceful drones with subtle spots cosmic pads and piercing atmospherics. There is a particular dreary tone to this track that is increasingly frightening as the song continues to play out. This is the most grim and ghastly track on the album. “Super Star Destroyer” is another nightmarish gem of cruel intentions and is minimalistic in nature. Where as the velocity of deep space movement is represented by immense sound density, this track proceeds that and shows great veracity by intricate details in the pads and soundscapes. All of this combined make up a gratifying, yet mysterious track that continues the exploration of uncharted space. “Solaris Station” continues with the perilous tonal accents with careening drones and various instruments and samples that fuse together like several out-of-sync clocks that suddenly gather in unison. In the background, pure evil lurks all around in the form of audial dynamics. The final track on the album is “Atlantis”. At just over ten minutes in length, it’s one of the longest tracks on the album and concludes this doomed space mission. Right from the beginning, lengthy drones flow steadily without reason and crescendo when necessary. Background noises crackle and process continually as the dead satellite reaches the end of its orbit and begins a new cycle in the same fortuitous journey.

Afnimaran really knows how to create a daring, Dark Ambient adventure. ‘Graveyard Orbit’ consists of compelling drones, retro effects and soundscapes and other musical variants that thwart this album into a cosmic rotation. Instead of spinning out of control, everything is meticulously integrated to produce a magnificent album. If you’re into daring space ambient music with an ominous undertone, look no further than ‘Graveyard Orbit’ by Afnimaran. Please support this monumental artist by downloading the album from the link below.

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Links:

https://kalpamantra.bandcamp.com/album/graveyard-orbit

Darkness Descends Upon Victorian-Era London on Dead Melodies & Beyond The Ghost’s Masterful Collaboration, ‘Crier’s Bane’

It’s been quite the year for Dead Melodies, as the Cryo Chamber Label artist not only released a magnificent solo album, ‘The Masterplan’, but also collaborated on spectacular releases with Zenjungle and Beyond The Ghost as well as participated in the annual Lovecraftian-themed Cryo Chamber album, ‘Yig’. All the same, Beyond The Ghost released one of my favorite albums of the year, ‘Eternal Drift’. That all being said, it seems fitting that these two exceptional artist team up to bring us a captivating thriller set in the rigid streets of Victorian-era London.

The calmness and intensity of “Message From The Horsemen” is so compelling, yet it perfectly sets a cold scenery as dimly lit streets and the haze of low-riding fog overcomes this tragic town. The slow galloping of horses is complemented by warm drones and soft soundscapes. Various instruments play random sequences to fulfill the travesty that may soon occur and the natural sounds of field recordings find their place perfectly in the mix. “The Crossing” commences with layers of obscure drones and soundscapes, creating a dismal landscape for a cold, Victorian night. Stringed instruments scream of misfortune as terror may soon unfold. Toward the end, the track turns into dense layers of beautiful melody as a sense of obscurity begins to fill the air. “A Theater Of Shadows” compliments the previous actions with alluring soundscapes and field recordings that are easy to follow along with, as this tragic story continues to unfold. Harmonious drones continue to captivate each second and appeal more toward a cinematic nature than minimalistic sound designs. “Cursed Riders Of Night” starts with a carnival-type musical sound and as it fades in and out, elegant pads generate ambiguous rhythms and the imminent tragedy continues. The streets are dark, cold and desolate yet there is doom in the air that compliments a bleak occurrence. Haunting loops crescendo toward the end as additional soundscapes penetrate the airwaves, producing a massive finale for this track – that coincidentally ends as it started, with creepy carnival music. “A Momentary Refuge”, is a short piano piece with cold drones and eerie field recording that’s reminiscent of someone slowly creeping across an old wooden floor. As they finally make it to the other side, additional scenic sounds can be heard, signifying a daring escape (or a silent getaway). “At The Foundry Gates” features a magnitude of disturbing soundscapes, sonic modulations and a continuation of harrowing drones that seem a bit colder than usual. The infusion of how various instrument sounds are included is amazing and this is definitely cinematic ambience at its best. The monstrous footstep sounds about halfway through are downright terrorizing and the combination of high-pitched keys are enough to mess with the senses. “Parlour Of Ignorance” starts with a minimalistic approach with the drone production. As the additional instruments and sound effects come into range, this arcane arrangement begins to unfold in the most peculiar way. Distant screams can be heard in the background at various intervals and after several times, the calming loops begin to fade. The acoustic passage at the end of this is serene and I wish that it lasted so much longer. “The Unforgiving Toll Of Time” begins with a few bars of light, Gregorian chants and then the cinematic soundscapes take over. The effects of how well everything is put together makes it seem as if the listener is embedded right in the scene. Drones with heavy reverb fade in and out, and an imaginative tale takes shape over the next few minutes. “Vagrant Souls” launches with a soothing drone, but as the sound intensifies so do the malevolent soundscapes. There is evil in the air as these modulations intensify, catapulting the listener into a dark realm of the unknown. Voices and music samples are heard softly in the background as moderate drones play out for the final few minutes. The final track on this extremely adventurous album is “Threadbare”. At just over eight minutes in playing time, it’s one of the longest songs on the album and definitely the most meditative. Containing hardly any field recordings, this one relies on layers of spectacular drones and emotional melody to put the listener in a different state of being. As far as the conceptualization goes, dawn has broke, evil has fled the dimly lit city streets and the eeriness of the unknown continues to lurk around the alleys and cobblestone bridges. Although there may finally be peace, it came at a cost and these tracks give us the adventure that was necessary for conjuring up an amazing story.

Conceptual collaborations are really starting to grow on me and this year has seen some of the best Dark Ambient collaborations yet. ‘Crier’s Bane’ by Dead Melodies & Beyond The Ghost is no exception. If the amazing solo works of these artists weren’t enough, fusing their talents to create a story like this is mind-blowing. This is an exceptional release and each artist brought their best efforts forward to create something truly amazing. I hope to hear more collaborations like this in the future from these artists, as there are many untold story’s that could be conceived with the help of true cinematic dark ambient music. I highly recommend checking out this album so please click on the link below and download ‘Crier’s Bane’.

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Links:

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/criers-bane

Not Dungeon Synth Nor Dark Ambient But…Fifteen Albums From 2020 That (for me) Transcended Greatness!!

The year 2020 hasn’t been great for much of anything except for, well…music! I listen to (and appreciate) just about every genre under the sun and I’m never bored when it comes to finding something to listen to at any given moment. In a single sitting, I can listen to Dark Ambient, grindcore, soft jazz and progressive rock without blinking an eye! Because of that versatile appreciation, I’d like to share with you a list of fifteen albums (in no particular order) that were released in 2020 (that are not Dark Ambient or Dungeon Synth) that I found to be full of grandeur and sheer brilliance. I hope you enjoy these releases and please support these artists/labels.

https://myrkur.bandcamp.com/album/folkesange

I am a big fan of Myrkur and after 3 albums of blackened folk metal, she drops the black metal sound and delivers a folk album that is nothing short of stunning beauty. ‘Folkesange’ is like Enya on steroids but is still alluring and undeniably Myrkur. Without a doubt, this is my favorite album by her and I honestly wouldn’t mind if she delivered more albums of this nature.

https://popnihil.bandcamp.com/album/footsteps

DIY musician and multi-genre specialist, Daniel Holt, produced one of my favorite albums of 2020 under the Human Figures moniker. ‘Footsteps’ is a deep dive into darkwave, lush production and dreamy vocals and I can’t count how many times this album has been played in my house or on my ride to/from work. Every track is spectacular and I don’t think I have ever skipped over any of them while listening.

https://reposerecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-occult

Reign and Rulum, two Black Metal bands from the UK, team up in this eclectic split album to deliver nearly forty six minutes of supremely written metal. Although displaying two different styles, the combined alliance of these two bands present one of the most blistering metal albums of the year.

https://zombi.bandcamp.com/album/2020

If you’re into Synthwave and B-movie horror soundtracks from the 80’s, then you have to love Zombi. They epitomize that 80’s retro-synth sound, and the duo just gets better and better. On this years ‘2020’ release, they’ve included electric guitars in their instrument arsenal and went for a heavier sound. However, there is no denying this is Zombi and ‘2020’ is the perfect nighttime driving album.

https://enslaved.bandcamp.com/album/utgard

If you didn’t know, I’m also a staff writer over at MaximumMetal.com and when asked to put together our Metal AOTY lists, Enslaved’s ‘Utgard’ was my top choice! Although no longer the cult viking black metal band they use to be, their current sound is absolutely incredible and they do everything with sheer brilliance. ‘Utgard’ is probably one of my Top 3 favorite Enslaved albums and they actually age better than fine wine!

https://sunaddictedfamily.bandcamp.com/album/solar-dreams

Another beautiful example of perfect genre collision when left in the hands of the right artist. Varkâna main man fronts this amazing new band that fuses post black metal, electronica, shoegaze and just about everything in between. Combine that with harsh screams, dreamy vocals and powerful lyrics and you have ‘Solar Dreams’. Such an amazing album that combines intensity and atmosphere in the best way possible.

https://gatemaster.bandcamp.com/album/gate-master

Gate Master brings the worlds of Dungeon Synth and Black Metal together on this unyielding self-titled album. Between the Dungeon Synth sections is some of the best trance-inducing black metal that has probably been produced this year. The inhuman vocals are frightening and the overall songwriting is magnificent. The track “Inverse Transcendent Hypostasis” is worth the price of the album alone!

https://nebulonambient.bandcamp.com/album/across-the-solar-tides

Flawlessly executed dark synth music with a heavy Berlin School influence, Nebulon continues to climb the ladder of excellence. ‘Across The Solar Tides’ contains three epic tracks to get lost in and it demands repeated listens. From the creator of Metatron Omega and Stronghold Guardian, Scorpio V continues his path of electronic music excellence.

https://hammerhedd.bandcamp.com/album/grand-currents

How can 3 kids (1 barely a teenager) from Missouri produce some of the most pummeling thrash metal of our generation? I would chalk it up to good parenting! Hammerhedd takes the sound of classic Sepultura and combines it with the technical ferocity of Gojira to make their own sound and it’s down right sick. I can just imagine how threatening (to other metal bands) they will sound in about ten years time.

https://thesunsjourneythroughthenight.bandcamp.com/album/eternal-black-transmissions

This album is my introduction to the band The Suns Journey Through The Night. It embodies the early 90’s spirit of LoFi Black Metal and with supreme atmospherics, shrilling vokills, precision drumming and discordant riffs, this has to be the sleeper Black Metal album of the year. It’s as grim as it is menacing and I was hooked from the very beginning and enthralled until the very end.

https://ouroceansband.bandcamp.com/album/while-time-disappears-2

Our Oceans takes it brand of melancholic progressive rock a few steps further on ‘While Time Disappears’. Adding metal guitar tones, screams and mesmerizing electronics, Our Oceans defies categorization this time around and simply generates the best music possible. “Your Night, My Dawn” is one of my favorite songs (any genre) this year!

https://unexplainedsoundsgroup.bandcamp.com/album/anthology-of-experimental-music-from-mexico

I was introduced to this album by Raffaele Pezzella (owner of Unexplained Sound Group) a few months back and it immediately blew me away! Containing nearly one hundred minutes of ambient, noise, industrial and experimental music from some of Mexico’s best underground artists, this album is a whirlwind of chaos and harmony. An absolutely stunning release!

https://abhasa.bandcamp.com/album/–2

Abhasa takes us on an enthralling journey with their sophomore album. It’s less ritualistic ambience and features more of a doom and post-metal sound. Every song is hypnotizing and plays to the emotional state of the listener. For me, this album combines the best of bands like If These Trees Could Talk and Isis (the band), in the most staggering of ways.

https://kscopemusic.bandcamp.com/album/space-for-the-earth

Ozric Tentacles have been around for thirty seven years and have stuck with the same aggressive, psychedelic space rock formula for almost the whole time. Led by the great Ed Wynne, ‘Space For The Earth’ finds The Ozrics laser focused on producing the best music possible. I’m always a first-day-buyer when a new album is released and this one continues their trek of spectacular releases.

https://witnesses-nyc.bandcamp.com/album/doom-ii

My introduction to Witnesses was the 2019 album ‘III’, which was a cinematic ambient album of the tallest order. However, 2020 brings about their latest effort, ‘Doom II’ and it’s an atmospheric doom metal masterpiece. Containing plenty of harsh riffs and grooves, it’s also complemented by spots of blast beat drumming, classical guitar moments, and stunning vocals. Expect nothing but greatness when listening to this gem!