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

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

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

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

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Links:

https://abhasa.bandcamp.com/album/–3

Shelter-In-Place Dark Ambient & Dungeon Synth Playlist

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

Recommended in Dark Ambient:

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

Recommended In Dungeon Synth (and beyond):

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

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

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

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

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

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Links:

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

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

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

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

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

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Links:

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

Eyre Transmissions IV: Interview with Visionary Dark Ambient Artist, Ruptured World

My love for the dark ambient genre goes back several decades. Although admittedly I started off as just a casual listener, I soon found a love for the eerie soundscapes & deep, ritualistic drones and the emotional state they put me in. Through the years, there have been many artists that have captivated me with their musical ventures, but one that stands out amongst my favorites is Ruptured World. Seamlessly combining dark ambient, piano sounds, and scripted narrations, Ruptured World emerges as a unique entity in a genre known mainly for its minimalism. Additionally, Ruptured World was one of the artists that inspired me to begin writing this blog and ‘Archeoplanetary’ became my very first review. I recently had an opportunity to interview Alistair Rennie – the artist behind Ruptured World – to find out the methods and inspirations behind his visionary craft.

1. First of all, thanks for the opportunity to conduct this interview. In 2019, you continued with the “Planetary” series and released the extremely impressive ‘Archeoplanetary’. Not only was it one of the first reviews for my site, it was also listed in my Dark Ambient Top 10 albums of last year. What what’s the writing/recording process like for this album? Do you have any plans to continue on with this series?

The process is one that starts off with a few nebulous ideas that begin to assume a more direct focus once the music and narrative elements start to form, and then it just starts to fall together and gather a momentum almost of its own.

Once the ideas begin to crystalize and take shape, I think that’s when I start to organise the music and spoken word narrative in more direct correlation with each other.

I never start with fully formulated ideas or a written narrative for the music to be written to. I find that too much planning in advance takes some of the excitement out of it. It’s a bit like getting spoilers before watching a film. So I try and leave room to allow for a certain degree of spontaneity. In saying that, once the first version of an album is done, I’ll go back over it making significant revisions and changes from start to finish. The idea or vision of the work gets clearer and more refined that way, until you have the completed work.

2. One thing that stands out for Ruptured World is the heavy use of commentary and spoken word. What influenced you to incorporate this into your brand of dark ambient?

It really comes from my activities as a writer. I write genre fiction (science fiction, horror and fantasy) and have a novel published and some short stories out there, mainly with US-based publishers and magazines. So it was very natural for me to create narratives that I could adapt to music through spoken word. Dark Ambient tends to be cinematic in terms of its characteristics, so it seemed a very obvious and quite normal thing to do.

3. Dr. Archibald Macrae is such a dignified and compelling character. What kind of research (if any) went into honing this character and his vast knowledge of archeology?

I have a good knowledge of ancient culture in Scotland, and, especially, the North of Scotland where I grew up. So I was able to feed a lot of that into the story through the character of Macrae. All of the places and some of the artefacts referred to in the album actually exist and serve as a basis for the fictional elements to be built on. These are places that I know intimately, some of them featuring also in my family history. So the knowledge mostly comes from lived experience and absorbing and learning over time rather than research. In saying that, I have studied aspects of the Picts at university, so there’s also some formal research that’s gone into it.

4. So, when you’ve created the albums of the “Planetary” series, do you write the music or narrations first?

I’ll start with the music but the narration starts to form alongside the music quite rapidly. It seems to happen as part of the same eruption of materials, overall, driven by the same impulse, both emerging simultaneously. I think there will be some music that has been created first, perhaps something that emerges from new material I’m working on, or something that rises out of periods of experimentation, that stands out and starts to go in a particular direction. And then the words and music will occur simultaneously. At a later point, I’ll start to do the vocal recordings and work on integrating those into the music using the appropriate sound design techniques.

5. I think I follow you on just about all of the major social media platforms and you seem to do a lot of field recordings. How important is this to your music?

This actually follows on nicely from the previous question. I’m now finding that field recordings have a much greater influence on how the music starts off and takes shape. It’s become one of the crucial elements of the music and is increasingly central to much of what I aim to do. In more recent stuff I’ve produced, I’ve aimed to capture the atmospheric detail of specific locations and to use this as the core sound around which to develop the music. I’ve also started making short video productions in which this music is featured, bringing everything together in one setting of audio-visual representation.

Field Recording Mission in New Aberdour, Scotland

6. Where are some of your favorite places to record sounds?

There are certain locations around the coastline of the Northeast of Scotland where there are all sorts of rock features, including wave cut platforms, sea stacks and sea caves, where I’ve started collecting some fantastic ocean sounds from fascinating acoustic settings. It’s a common subject matter in field recording but for a good reason. We never tire of hearing water and the sounds of the sea. The specific kinds of rock formations will present unique sounds and amplifications. The sea caves are my favourite, though. As you can imagine, the way the sounds of the sea resonate within these enclosed geological spaces is fascinating. And I’ll often create additional sounds and percussive sounds using whatever stones and aquatic vegetation presents itself within the caves.

I also like to go inland towards the mountainous areas, particularly in and around the Cairngorm mountains. The glens and hillsides present all sorts of interesting sounds to capture. There’s a lot of wildlife making some great noise. There are rivers and streams constantly flowing. The plant life makes an abundance of sounds you’d never imagine until you actually start listening through field recording.

It’s also a good idea to take things with you to record in the outdoor spaces. Instruments will always sound incredible when you play them outside. And so will playing a digital synth through a portable amp or speakers.

7. You also seem to have a high regard for the visual aspect to your work. Does this also influence the mood of your music?

I’d say it was the other way round, certainly where video is concerned. It’s more the case that the music influences and often shapes the editorial choices and stylistic tenor of the video-making.

8. Speaking of visual art, you have a keen eye for photography and videography. Do you do this as a hobby, or incorporate it into your business ventures?

With video, it’s more like an extension of the music, really, with a definite aim of making it part of the whole aesthetic. It’s something I’m working on more, now, and something I’ve had some formal training in, which always helps.

That’s not the case with photography, which is more of a supplementary activity, always good for putting online. In saying that, I have a friend (one of a few mysterious accomplices of Ruptured World!) who is a very fine photographer with a great knowledge and approach in what he does. Those really great photos you can see on my Instagram page, for example, are his. He did the photo for the cover of “Frontiers of Disorder” on the Ruptured World Bandcamp page.

The not so good photos, the ones taken on a cell phone and put through a filter, those are ones that I’ve taken. I try to take photographs of some of the places I go to for field recording or video footage trips, just to share for interest and fun. Fans of Dark Ambient are almost always people who have an interest in the natural world. So anything I can capture of any atmospheric or dramatic scenes, I’ll put it online in the hope it’s of interest.

9. Getting back to your music; What is your recording setup like? Do you use mainly VST’s, analog/digital equipment, analog instruments, or a combination of them all.

It’s a combination of different things—digital synths, a lot of sampling of sounds, voices and acoustic instruments, as well as objects. A lot of the piano sounds I’ll use are recorded live on a really nice Roland digital piano I’ve got. It can bring some really good room ambience, and sometimes the noise of the keys, that I really like, giving it a sort of haunted feel. Samples and sounds derived from field recordings, as well as voice samples, are things I use more and more. I have some percussion instruments, too. I’ll have some core sounds or samples that I tend to use regularly, but with lots of room for experimentation and trying out new things.

10. Other than your Ruptured World project, do you have any other main musical ventures?

Just Ruptured World! I did dabble with some horrorsynth stuff a while back, and it’s a type of music I enjoy. But it’s not where my interests lie, really.

11. I know that you recently contributed to the ‘Hastur’ Cryo Chamber collaboration album – which was phenomenal by the way. Have you been featured on any other collaboration projects?

Glad you enjoyed it! I haven’t yet featured on any other collaborations, but there may be a couple of things in the pipeline to look out for!

12. Do you have any recording plans for 2020?

Yes, I’ve actually got another “Planetary” album currently under production, so look out for that one. And I’m also working on music for video productions like the ones I’ve already produced and put on YouTube, with an aim to putting together an album at some time in the future. And there’s one or two top secret collaborations that may soon be underway. So a few things going on.

13. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions. Do you have any final thought for anyone that may be reading this?

My pleasure. Thank you! I would just encourage people to keep listening, keep supporting the artists, and keep searching the skies for the gods of Dark Ambient, who must surely be out there, watching over us as we speak.

Links:

https://rupturedworld.bandcamp.com

http://alistairrennie.com

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

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

Harrogat Takes A Bold And Restrained Approach With Supremely Minimalistic Drones On ‘Pandemonium’

The term Pandemonium has several distinct meanings. The first definition that may come to mind is sheer and utter chaos, to the point where anarchy and uncivilized disorder can no longer be maintained or controlled. However, there is another meaning that is equally, if not more horrifying than the aforementioned. It is the habitat of a gathering of demons, simply known as hell. The characteristic for this definition is that the word Pandemonium is typically spelled out in all caps, is in the latest offering by Harrogat. ‘Pandemonium’ is a deep space, minimalistic narrative that will haunt you with its extended drones and creepy vibes. With a playing time of an hour and forty six minutes, this journey to hell will be a slow, agonizing descent, as Harrogat is determined to test sanity of all who are doomed

“Morning Star” is like the calm before the storm as the warm drones take you from a serene and peaceful existence into a realm of uncertainty. Like the dawn of a hazy sun on the distant horizon, this song gets brighter and continues to add more texture as it ebb and flows with soft velocity. The warmth ends there, however, as “Caronte” starts down the dark and grim path toward the evil destination. With field recordings that resemble the swaying and rocking of an old, wooden vessel, the drones in this track continue to build in layers, as if it is crossing the river Styx to deliver lost souls to the gate to the underworld. “Dite” continues to play on the psyche with eccentric pad effects on top of buried, rhythmic drones. During this twelve and a half minute bludgeoning affair, the tone stays constant for the most part but every so often, a frequency shift in the back end drones – which are barely audible at times – breath both life and death into this morbid manifestation. “Your Shadow, Your Name” features some towering soundscapes that provide an eerie depth to the overall theme for this album. Just like the deliverance of souls to the gates of Hades, this track signifies that there is no turning back and that the entrapped souls now belong to eternal abyss. “God’s Hypocrisy” uses broad soundscapes to set a true feeling of emptiness. It’s like a bleak space ambient tune set in a blackened void, where there is no sense of time or speed. “Evocation Of Lucifer” begins quiet and reserved but soon crescendos into an accelerated drone as if there is no inevitable way of escaping an anxiety-filled battle with faith. Random soundscapes in the background bridge the monotonous apex reached by the massively layered low-end noises. “The Death Of God” is a near twelve minute track of harrowing polar ambient sounds, set out to soothe the subconscious as the darkness prevails all around. There are several spots of inaudible spoken word recordings that are a cause for concern and angst. “The Shape” is a soundtrack-worthy ambient tune that provides a dark and emotional prelude to the massive ending for which is about to happen. The final track on the album, “Pandemonium” isn’t just the final stretch of the journey to hell, it is a colossal forty four and a half minute epidemic of dark ambient wizardry that sets the bar for long-play ambient tracks. Combining elements of dark, space and polar ambient, “Pandemonium” is a high-caliber dirge that is relentless from start to finish. The massive drone sounds escalate in volume, only to decrease – at times – to make way for other insanely penetrable commotions. At around the eight minute mark, the cacophonous space drones give way to a singular, grim polar ambient tone, deviating from an interstellar theme and bringing it back to and icy cold vibe. Incidental soundscapes push the boundaries of this section and give it a rather frightening foundation. At around the eighteen and a half minute mark, a barely audible deep frequency plagues the airwaves in a sense that it gives off an almost warping effect. It’s soon followed by added synthesizers, making it an absolutely gloomy section to fathom. At around the twenty nine minute mark, the reluctant droning tone is not as dark as usual but is in a subdued state, as if preparing the listener for a climactic ending. That’s exactly what the final four minutes of this track are, as luminous synths provide a final touch of melody and volume, like the souls finally reaching their gruesome destination of ‘Pandemonium’.

Harrogat has conceived quite an impressive album with ‘Pandemonium’. Not only does it take you on a spiritual, ritualistic and emotional journey, but there is enough depth to each track to provide a sense of realistic vision for the quest that is intended for the album. With each new album that is released, Harrogat’s exposure to the dark ambient elements become more impressive. This album is mind-blowing in the sense that it is nearly two hours long and the detail throughout doesn’t seem to repeat itself. Show your support for this exemplary artist and download ‘Pandemonium’ from the link below.

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Links:

https://lakelabel.bandcamp.com/album/pandemonium

IDFT’s ‘The Great Gate’ Is A Dismal Collapse Of Life’s Essence That Will Leave You Lost In Reverie

You find yourself all alone as you awaken from a deep sleep. As darkness permeates around you, curiosity of your present situation lingers. How did you get here, and for how long have you existed in this state? As you begin to drift around the endless void searching for answers, you realize it’s filled with nothing – no solids, no visuals, and no memories. However, as you continue the unsighted venture, you come upon a structure more massive than you can imagine. It’s solid, cold, and familiar, yet mystical. You’ve reached the gate to the unknown, where the quintessence of nothingness will leave you in a trance-like state forever. You’ve reached ‘The Great Gate’, the horrifying portal provided by IDFT that will transform the psyche of the mind. For over sixty minutes, these mesmerizing sound sequences, synth pads, and minimal drones will besiege your soul and distort your judgement of reality.

As you enter the gate, the first audible sound you hear is “RS”, the lead off track on this stunning album. Sounding more like a warning alarm from hell, this short track, provides an eerie expression of the emotional journey that is to follow. “ZT” calmly starts with deep, single key tones like a fleet of abandoned ships in a doomed harbor, sounding their horns as if to give of vague warning signs for a ghostly invasion. The creepy keyboard arrangement and delicate soundscapes increase the angst of the situation. The searing noises of “eRD” coincide with the distresses of embarking on this dark adventure through the gate. The unfamiliarities all around you are synchronized with horrific tones and screams emitted from this track. “FH” is full of dreamy textures as if you’re suddenly floating through the darkness. An evil presence has overtaken your physical being and is pulling you deeper into the abyss. The dreams then turn to nightmares as the tones shift to a deeper frequency, exuding a more malevolent vibe. “NT” is a deep space drone with chilling vocal sounds that are layered to perfection. Giving off that wall-of-sound type of production, this track is like a powerful passage into the next surreal dimension. Once through the passage, you’re greeted with the sounds of “YUt”, a bleak and doom filled dirge, that showcases IDFT at its very best. The spectral bass effects and supernatural vocal melodies will send chills down your spine. Not only is this track extremely thought provoking and will get your imaginative juices flowing, it’s also my favorite track on the album. “Kulj” begins with savory vocal echoes and field recordings that provide the soundtrack for a discordant landscape. With emptiness all around, there is nothing to reflect upon other than the dark emotions excreted by the frequency of the keys that play them. “KT” shows a particular brightness not visualized on any other track. However, that doesn’t make this less sinister than the rest of the album. The tones are clashing and dynamic enough to leave you in a state of reproach. “Kelo” is another minimalistic drone that also has a cinematic quality to it. Once the muffled vocal tones begin, this track blasts off into something astonishing. For over ten minutes, this piece will have you in a trance-like state and you’ll not want it to end. The albums final track, “MW” contains some enchanting orchestral parts and layered keyboards to give a big climactic ending. As you reach the end of the dark journey, you find yourself back at the entrance of ‘The Great Gate’.

IDFT has a unique perspective on dark ambient. Instead of perpetual deep droning, and heavy use of field recordings, IDFT relies on minimalistic tones, deep & emotional vocal sounds, and the occasional melodic vibe to create a sound of its own. ‘The Great Gate’ is a haunting album that has many amazing moments and the artistic imagery that it provides is simply amazing. I can not recommend this album enough and you should add this one to your collection immediately.

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Links:

https://noctivagantcollective.bandcamp.com/album/the-great-gate