Grande Loge Evokes Tribal Beats And Ritualistic Atmospherics On Compelling ‘Mantras’ Release

Once again, I find myself arriving late to the party on a fantastic album that was released toward the end of 2020. With so much music being released in the genres that I’ve created this blog for, it sometimes feels impossible to stay dialed in to all of the magnificent works of art that find their way into this world. However, as I’ve always said, it’s better late than ever, especially if discovering something that may have a lasting impact. Grande Loge definitely fits that bill with their awe-inspiring, ritualistic ambient debut, ‘Mantras’. Featuring seven tracks of ceremonial dirges, these songs exemplify ancient tribal hymns with traditional instruments and a solid production.

From the start, “Epopteia” takes the lister back in time, to a medieval Scandinavian period where music and art were inspired by the land, ancients Gods and culture. A broad mix of conventional instruments and hymnal chants, this track sets a particular mood for mythological inspiration and ritualistic dominance. As the track continues, the pace increases and the compositional movements become more austere. “Mithra Invictus” commences with bold vocal incantations, followed by Middle Eastern-style melodies. A variety of percussive elements create a galloping style arrangement and the vocal performance become increasingly powerful. An impressive break toward the middle of the track brings more layers of stringed instruments and soon after, it picks back up to an enchanting performance of strident harmony and ancient throat singing. “Hekaten” continues with the powerful vocal performances in a chant-like manner, complete with serene musical accents, with the occasional bell ring. As the song ages, the vocals become more majestic and continue to stand out. This track is reminiscent of a group of Norse warriors participating in a ritualistic ceremony before forging on to battle. “Avekko” has a compelling and unique vocal performance, with layers of vocal chats & whispers, while drones of throat singing occupies the background elements. Harsh shrills of warrior-like cries peak at random intervals, while a beautiful violin lead stands out between all of the vocal endeavors. “Aecroto” begins with a simple percussive beat and then menacing overtone vocals begin to engage – chanting a traditional narration. A background drone increases with anxious intent while a wide range of voice melodies continue to shine. “Tenya Pon” is a fun little track that will have the listener tapping their feet in unison with the drum beats, while singing along with the simple vocal chants that are present throughout. It’s easy to tell that this is a celebratory track due to the upbeat percussive performance and the sing-along style vocals. The final track on the album is the ceremonial “Hierophantes”. Various traditional instruments synchronize to compose a minimalistic but glorifying final performance. Representing the darkness of nature and melancholy, this song is soundtrack worthy and succeeds in catapulting the listener back to a dark time where an ancient civilization lived off of the land and endured the hardships of Arctic-like elements and suffrage through battle. This is such an exalting way to end this amazing album.

‘Mantras’ is an exception album and such a bold statement for a debut. Grande Loge sustains a high caliber performance throughout this stunningly beautiful magnum opus and every track stands out in the most impressive of ways. Combining elements of traditional instruments, multiple singing styles and haunting background ambience, Grand Loge creates a challenging platform for ritualistic inspired music. Fans of Wardruna and Phurpa should dive into this album immediately and everyone else should take the time to check out this extremely special performance. Click on the link below to download this grandiose musical experience.

Please Like/Follow my blog so that you’ll get first hand updates every time I post a review. Thanks for visiting the Dungeon!!

Links:

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

‘Music For Mental Health’ Brings Much Needed Awareness For World Mental Health Day

Today, October 10th, is the observation of World Mental Health Day. First celebrated in 1994, this International Day has grown into a global event that expands beyond 150 countries. On this day, supporters celebrate the education, knowledge and advancement against social stigma. What makes this day even more special is when artist across multiple genres of obscure music come together in a collaborative effort and release an album dedicated to this cause. ‘Music For Mental Health’ is that album and Hreám Recordings did a fascinating job curating this collection of fantastic tunes, especially since they have a deeper meaning for many of the artists that contributed. The outcome is over three hours of raw, honest, emotion-filled songs that excel at raising awareness for this special day. In addition, all proceeds from this album will go to Mind UK (link below). Please show your support for this cause and head over to the bandcamp link below and download this amazing album.

From the curator of this project:

The artists involved in this project are all more or less of the No Audience Underground:
8 Track Dogma, A Beautiful Idea, Audio Obscura, Bolivian Fireships, boycalledcrow, D^mselfly, Distant Animals, DJ盲目, Dogs Versus Shadows, Drew Mulholland, EXPOSE YOUR EYES, fencepost, Henrik Meierkord, Lednik Frontier, Malady of Knots, Quiet Clapping, Rauppwar, relay station, Sound Effects Of Death And Horror, The Creeping Man, The New Emphatic, The Owl, The Wyndham Research Institute, there are no birds here, Vanessa Pettendorfer, V’Gernull, Wonderful Beasts and Xqui.

The compilation covers genres as: experimental, drone, ambient, soundscape, electronic and improv. There are 27 tracks all in all and over 3 hours of music waiting for the listener. Most of the tracks are specially written for this project, with a few handpicked. Many pieces reflect over the creators own struggles with mental health issues and there are even some that chosen to leave a written message to read while listening to their creation. We have all worked very hard for this and are very proud of the result. It will be a true joy to be able to share this one with the world.


All proceeds will go to Mind UK:

https://www.mind.org.uk/

Hreám Recordings:

https://hream.bandcamp.com

Withering Of Light Unearths A Collection Of Obscure Fragments On ‘Reliquary’

There is a particularly dark scene in the movie, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in which Luke Skywalker is undergoing his Jedi Knight training. They come upon a dark path of sorts and Luke asks Yoda, “What’s In there”, in which Yoda replies, “Only what you take with you.” That is such a haunting sentence, especially when experiencing the unknown. It also serves as a metaphor for Withering Of Lights latest album, ‘Reliquary’. It’s almost hard to describe in words what that actually means, but fans of Dark Ambient music can easily relate to this analogy, as this genre of music excels at providing a platform for emotional and spiritual expansion. As for ‘Reliquary’, the six songs contained within contribute to a sense of isolation and dread, in which unforetold tales are inevitable and open for an array of interpretations.

Harrowing album opener, “Apocryyphal”, administers a jolt of cold atmospherics and creepy soundscapes that drag the listen down a bleak pit of doom. The drones cascade with minimalistic angst and lurking synth effects crescendo at random intervals, providing an unfathomable experience. “Fane” continues this dark excursion by weighing the listener down with a barrage of consoling drones and sequences of terrifying sounds. As the ear-piercing tones isolate the listener from a peaceful reality, low-end reverberations zero in on the minds gloomy whereabouts. Toward the end of the track, a hint of calming keys expand this emotional journey into new territory. The next track, “Hive”, is like a chain reaction of evil intent, as sinister soundscapes continue to build at will. Superbly arranged synth leads adds a depth of character as this develops into one of the most malevolent concepts on the album. Industrial effects give this an overall apocalyptic vibe as this nightmare increases with each passing second. The albums title track, “Reliquary”, lives up to its ominous name as I can imagine hearing this upon discovering an ancient ark in a long forgotten cave. As curiosity presses you to open the ark for a vivid discovery of the relics contained within, a sense of relentless evil darkens the skies and morphs all tranquil thoughts into an inauspicious will of self-destruction. “Spectral Resonance” is like an austere sense of awakening as this minimalistic piece represents a void of surroundings and a slow-motion effort to investigate a way out of this purgatory. This track also provides a cold, desolate dais for emotional captivity, spewing filthy soundscapes, manipulated by eerie reverberations and manifestations. The final track on the album is “White Chrism”. A great – but excruciating – blend of nominal drones and loosely embedded soundscapes, this track serves as the horrifying exit from a nightmarish adventure and the scarred return to a gloomy reality. Even as the track comes to a close, these dreary modulations will remain as a everlasting cicatrix, replaying over and over again with no end avail.

Withering Of Light does a compelling job at turning minimalistic drones into a work of decaying art. ‘Reliquary’ is an album of evil intent and disquieting accord. Not only are these tracks downright terrifying but for listeners in the wrong state of mind, could cause traumatic affects. The metaphor that I presented in the beginning of this review still holds true for this recording. There is so much space ingrained in this music that the emotions you bring to this listening experience is a customary component to its audial outcome. This is an excellent Dark Ambient album that deserves to be heard by the masses. Please show your support for Withering Of Light by downloading this album from the link below, as well as checking out the back catalog of superb albums.

Please Like/Follow my blog so that you’ll get first hand updates every time I post a review. Thanks for visiting the Dungeon!!

Links:

https://witheringoflight.bandcamp.com

Sydalesis Constructs a Berlin School Classic With ‘Living Machine’

For over a decade now, Sydalesis has been crafting a vibrant blend of atmospheric music that ranges from light to dark ambient with a ton of experimental electronic-based compositions in between. However, earlier this year, horizons were expanded when the Berlin School heavy ‘Living Machine’ was released. This album presented a masterclass of krautrock based synths with over two and a half hours of mesmerizing soundscapes to launch the listener into an overwhelming cosmic universe. On a typical music review, I would present my view of every song on an album but with ‘Living Machine’ and it’s fourteen tracks of celestial encounters, I’ll spend some time elaborating on just a few of my favorites.

Transcendent album opener, “Dawn Of The Rise” blasts off at a contentious pace, setting a resilient standard for the remainder of the album. At six minutes and fifty eight seconds long, it’s actually the albums shortest track. However, the traditional but complex Berlin School sequences provide a nostalgic realm to begin an elongated drift, as this album is undoubtedly relentless. The backing drones elicit a calm demeanor amongst the mild chaotic blend of synth leads and soundscapes. I can’t think of a better track from this album to start this amazing audial journey. Moving right into an epic blend of mesmerizing synths and celestial drones, “Operatives” decreases the velocity initiated by the first track but replaces it with a soothing and emotional retro-adventure for over sixteen and a half minutes. Percussive patterns and melodic keys are the proponents that elevate this gem to solar heights making it one of my favorite tracks. Skipping over a few tracks will bring us to “Epilogue Of War”, an eleven minute sixteen second long excursion into a bleak world of ethereal soundscapes and captivating melody. As one of the darker tracks on the album, the synth leads soar into oblivion over looped percussive patterns and a slightly distorted Berlin School sequence. The retrospective arrangement and bold use of effects will have the listener meandering anxiously in a world of voided space and floating memories. Skipping down a few more tracks, finds my overall favorite song on the album, “Resurgence”. Commencing with a mid-paced sequencer effect and atmospheric keys that quietly build into an aimless composition, the droning keys are what stands out the most to me. The fantastic melody is so fluid, the listener will instantly drift back to a time of neon lights, bleak horizons and cruising in a DeLorean at midnight with their sunglasses on. Although traveling at full speed, the surroundings seem to float by in slow motion, being caught systematically in the keen peripheral vision of the driver. Even at the mammoth length of this song, it seems to pass by too quickly, enticing the listener to hit the repeat button again and again. The last song that I’d like to talk about amongst this fourteen track collection, is the dainty “Capital Metropolis”. Utilizing additional effects and several layers of Berlin School sequences, this near ten and a half minute magnum opus showcases a broader range of sound and dynamics than some of the other tracks. It is arranged in a way that almost sounds like a continuous build. The magnificent synth leads provide a dreamy scenario in which emotional travels to distant worlds can be achieved. Again, this is another fantastic moment on the album in which one doesn’t want it to end. Every single song on this album is simply amazing but I wanted to highlight a few of my absolute favorites.

‘Living Machine’ is a front runner for Ambient Album Of The Year in my opinion. Even though this album is over two and a half hours long, there isn’t a single boring moment on it and the masterful use of Berlin School sequences is absolutely addicting to listen to. Although it showcases a slightly different side of Sydalesis, it will surely leave its mark in several sub-genres of the synth community. If you’ve not had the opportunity to listen to this massively underrated album, I highly recommend checking it out. Please support Sydalesis by downloading this album from the link below. You’ll be glad you did!

Please Like/Follow my blog so that you’ll get first hand updates every time I post a review. Thanks for visiting the Dungeon!!

Links:

https://sydalesis.bandcamp.com/album/living-machine

Psyclopean, Visions Of Ulnahar & Noctilucant Congregate For A Cinematic Lovecraftian Offering With ‘Libris Arcanum’

What happens when three idealistic artists come together on a collaborative effort with a single theme in mind? An absolutely brilliant album is born and an unparalleled blend of Dark Ambient and Dungeon Synth intonations tell a Lovecraftian story of horror and lore. ‘Libris Arcanum’ presents six epic tracks of sonic adventure with Psyclopean, Noctilucant and Visions Of Ulnahar contributing two fanatical adventures each. These dark compositions combine droning ambience with the essential sounds of riveting Dungeon Synth, providing an eerie exploration into the world of One of our favorite fantasy authors.

Psyclopean caters the albums lead off track with “De Vermis Mysteriis”. This majestic undertaking begins with soaring synth leads and subtle soundscapes that set a captivating scene of somber foreboding. The cinematic approach to the first section is a beautiful introduction to this extremely diverse album. However, gloomy elements start to merge in a horrific fashion with moments of layered keys fused with a grim ambience. Elegant keys bring this song to a close, properly preparing the lister for the remaining intonations. The next track is “The Dhol Chants” by Visions Of Ulnahar, setting an aggressive pace with jolting soundscapes and loud, distorted keys. As these tones drone on at full capacity, evidence of evil luring in the background is apparent, as subtle instances of abhorrent effects make their presence known. This one will definitely get the heart racing as the unknown prevails. Next up is “Cthäat Aquadingen” by Noctilucant. The sound of crashing waves start this eight plus minute journey into oblivion and soon, discordant keys set a bleak atmosphere. Inaudible noises dwell in the background as sections of divergent disarray cast a spell on those that continue to listen. About halfway into the track, ominous keys create a sense of melody, casting a shadowy light on this otherwise dark encounter. Psyclopean is up next with their second track of audial ambience in, “The Book Of Dayan”. A beguiling, warm drone casts a melancholic foundation while synth effects churn out a cold arrangement. A mournful vocalization adds a layers of funereal essence before giving way to a drifting thunderstorm field recording. Echoing narrations can be heard in the distance while peculiar percussion valiantly plays an off-kilter beat. The final few minutes of this track is filled with celestial drones, thunderous explosions and ethereal chants. If this doesn’t get you in the mood for Lovecraft-themed Mythos, then I don’t know what will. “Zanthu Tablets” is the next track provided by the magnificent Visions Of Ulnahar. Desolate waves on a gloomy beach front encounter cinematic tones and synth glitches showcasing a mixed emotive state. It’s as if this composition represents the ancient clash of good versus evil. This mesmerizing combination carries on until the end of the track, where the waves suddenly disappear and we’re left with just a soft theatrical melody. The final track on the album is provided by Noctilucant and it’s called “Cultes Des Goules”. Continuing on with a barrage of soundscapes and incandescent tones, this track is like an audible nightmare with haunting ambience, muffled wind sounds and soaring effects that are close to ear-piercing in pitch. A malevolent narrative piece is embedded amongst the ghoulish chaos as this nightmare of a track continues on. Retro synth leads are included in the mix and they provide a sinister tone to the overall sound of this track.

I know that this album has been out for a while now, but it’s never too late to review an epic collection of songs of these proportions. Each of these three artists – Psyclopean, Visions Of Ulnahar and Noctilucant – bring their own perception and taste for Synth excellence to collaborate on this pinnacle recording. Combining the best features of both Dungeon Synth and Dark Ambient music, this theatrical presentation tells an illuminating story of conceptual Lovecraftian manifestations. These are top-notch compositions with a supreme songwriting effort that deliver prestigious music of the highest order. Please support this album and these artists by listening to (and downloading) it from the link below.

Please Like/Follow my blog so that you’ll get first hand updates every time I post a review. Thanks for visiting the Dungeon!!

Links:

https://noctilucant.bandcamp.com/album/libris-arcanum

Ruptured World Segregates New Album, ‘Shore Rituals’ From The Planetary Series For A Darkened Realm Of Ancient Landscapes

Since 2018, Ruptured World has presented us with an astounding trio of albums in his Planetary series that follows the visionary experiences of several generations of archeological experiences, based on the discoveries of the Macrae family. Those albums expanded upon a universe with galactic drones and immense piano sequences that bridge the gap between haunting ambience and a clever storyline that thrills with divine amazement. Now back with an exploratory tale of maritime enthrallment, Ruptured World produces an audible story of daring adventure through sonic soundscapes, field recordings and a cryptic narrative. The end result is ‘Shore Rituals’, a near fifty minute excursion through dangerous worlds and environmental contemplation.

The majestic anthology begins with “The Merman”, an introspective nuance of various samples and soundscapes that slowly disintegrates into a somber drone with random musical oddities thrown in. The soothing nature of this intro sets a relaxing tempo and when the beautiful piano textures commence, it places this track on a whole new level. The sound of crashing waves in the background sends the listener to another world of natural scenic beauty. “Black Tides Harken To The Summons Of Eons” begins with peaceful wave motions before leading into a powerful percussive tone set to a dark cadence. Drones and hisses add a nostalgic feel as the amount of space provided allows for other sound patterns to evolve. “The Silencing Tide” carries on that same sediment as random frequency bursts create a vivid state of eeriness. Haunting soundscapes and vocalizations fill the void as this track seemingly comes to life. “The Whales Mouth” commences with a calming natural vibe while layers of placid drones and percussive elements produce a tranquil atmosphere. Random sounds of computer generated noises add a celestial feel, as this is one of the most dynamic tracks on the album. In typical Ruptured World fashion, we’re treated to a dose of spectacular narrations that verbally expand upon this audial transmission. “Radio Signature Interludium” launches with an array of modulations that puts the listener in the middle of a space mission, while a consoling piano melody systematically creates an offsetting foundation of bleakness. This obscure track ends with the commotion of relentless waves crashing along a desolate shore. “Catharsis II” is a spooky piano piece that features the retro sounds of tape hisses and a dragging element that slightly alters the speed of the track. The exquisite use of synth tones gives this a fantastic retro feel, as if taken from a 80’s science fiction movie soundtrack. Probably one of my favorite songs on the album. “The Human Vessel” continues on with the maritime field recordings while adding an ominous musical recording that is barely detectable. Soon, an alluring piano melody is added, increasing the magnificent appeal of this track. Another narrative sequence provides a supplemental piece to this adventure, increasing the depth of this darkened experience. “Bow Fiddle Rock” is a no-frills dark ambient excursion that is as hypnotizing as it is sedative. Minimalistic drones lean more to particular warmness, but it’s the maniacal samples that proves it’s disturbing appeal. “The Unexplained Fury” extends the bleakness of the previous track with enthralling drones and crisp soundscapes that submerge the listener into an enchanted maritime experience. There is also a soothing melody throughout that is reminiscent of a retrospective dreamscape. The last track on the album is “The Three Kings”, a final glance into this fascinating tale of ancient oceanic mystery. Harrowing drones and suspenseful synth chops bridge the worlds of suspended animation and natural essence. These looping sounds create an epic realm of controlled chaos and ethereal beauty. Obscure samples and random radio frequencies fuse seamlessly with these qualities, producing a transient ambience of the highest order.

It’s apparent that the audial cosmos created by Ruptured World come naturally. Every album emulates a particular environment, whether it’s in a series of recordings or a diversion into a different realm. ‘Shore Rituals’, allows Ruptured World to have a clean break from the Planetary albums while diving into a new environment of quintessential excellence. I appreciate this new atmosphere and particularly like the massive use of field recordings and samples as it conceives a unique take on the Dark Ambient genre. If you’ve not had the opportunity to spin this fascinating recording, I can’t recommend it enough. Please download this fantastic album from the link below.

Please Like/Follow my blog so that you’ll get first hand updates every time I post a review. Thanks for visiting the Dungeon!!

Links:

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/shore-rituals

Xerxes The Dark Delves Deeper Into The Chaotic World Of Death & The Macabre With ‘Soundtrack To The Blind Owl’

Over the past few albums, Xerxes The Dark has taken a seemingly harsher approach to his Dark Ambient output. Instilling more of an industrial assault rather than lush, cinematic tones, it’s safe to say that XTD is producing some of the most aggressive work of his career. Although his past work has contained quite a bit of ominous modulations and sinister soundscapes, material from the past couple of years have been extremely bleak and harrowing, but a fitting progression for one of the best artists in the genre. That leads us to this years surprise release, ‘Soundtrack To The Blind Owl’. Extremely influenced by the 1937 novel, ‘The Blind Owl’ by Sadegh Hedayat, the story is about a desolate mans descent into chaos after experiencing personal loss and metaphysical shame. XTD interprets that discord into a grueling six track album of harsh noises and antagonizing dread that breaks down ones own spirit and will force the listener to question their own sanity.

It’s almost cliche to say that the album begins with a calm-before-the-storm approach. However, with the ensuing onslaught of punishing tonality that reeks havoc on the mind (and ears) for the following fifty three minutes, that statement is putting it mildly. “Misanthropic Mind Within Nightmares” begins with pulsating modulations and distorted guitar screeches that progressively sets the tone for this horrific ordeal. Subtle glitches are manipulated in a rhythmic pattern while random guitar noises inflict audial damage at deafening volumes. “The Women” commences with some of the same fragmented tones that were predominate in the first track and fuses with strident guitar reverberations that would please fans of the mighty Sunn O))). Bleak soundscapes are imbued strategically, enhancing the experience of the ascension of chaos. The layers of deep, guttural nuances give this track an overall creepy vibe. Next up is my favorite track, “Opium & The Bent Man”. Before I get into the details of this track, I’d like to point out that each song flows seamlessly into the next and is meant to be listened to as a single instance, showing a slow descent into oblivion and the process in which maniacal sentiment infiltrates all thought processes. As for “Opium & The Bent Man”, this is the eeriest eight minutes on the album and the celestial synth contained within are what phantasmic dreams are made out of. The droning, distorted guitar riffs are still present but take a back seat to the sinister soundscapes that oscillate at will, like an abandoned pitch shifter. “Bed Of Dead” continues down the path of destruction as distorted frequency sounds create a drone-like impulse, devastating everything in its wake. Layers of exaggerated guitar riffs continue to surge, adding a frenzied accent to this otherwise minimalistic intonation. “Horrible Abyss” continues the insanity but doesn’t begin with a constant hysteria of sound. Instead, vibrant impulses tease of an imminent demise before fully committing to an agitated madness of constant tones and malevolent riffs. The final track on the album is “The Shadow Of The Void”. Commencing with a low volume and gradually committing to a solid foundation of hateful, droning guitar riffs and dismal effects, this is the climactic piece that solidifies the concept of this very engaging album. As the psyche begins to wear thin, the throbbing fill of sonic distortions continue to blast at earsplitting volumes. However, everything comes to a grinding halt – and without warning – as the song stops in an instant, representing the abrupt end to the rapid decline of the mind.

Xerxes The Dark has been on a role over the last few years by releasing some of the best albums of his career. Instead of maintaining the status quo, XTD continues to add to his signature sound, digging deeper into the industrial ambient sub-genre and producing albums of harsher and more severe sounds. “Soundtrack To The Blind Owl” is no exception, as it’s his most brutal XTD output thus far. However, if this is what we can come to expect, then I’m already excited to hear of what may be next. This is not a relaxing, meditative listen. This is very coarse and requires the full attention of the listener in order to appreciate and understand what all is going on. That all being said, this album is absolutely amazing and one of my favorite Dark Ambient recordings of the year so far. Please show your support and listen to and/or download this outstanding piece of work from the link below.

Please Like/Follow my blog so that you’ll get first hand updates every time I post a review. Thanks for visiting the Dungeon!!

Links:

https://xerxesthedark.bandcamp.com/album/soundtrack-to-the-blind-owl

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

I love how Dark Ambient continues to grow and find ways to expand beyond the typical means of uniformity. While the baseline of stimulating drones and gloomy soundscapes are a permanent fixture in Dark Ambient music, the use of textured field recordings and the fusion of other genres show an increased variety in the music created for this genre and how it is able to expand. Welcome to round three of Celestial Ephemerides for my Dark Ambient summary reviews and I hope you savor these broad spectrum of releases and appreciate them as much as I do.

1. Secant Prime – Wavelets

For starters, this album is a few years old but after have been introduced to it, I knew that I had to write about it in some form or fashion. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill Dark Ambient recording, as it is filled with pulsating modulations, harsh industrialized noises with random samples and soundscapes that make this a horrifying affair. However, these five tracks present an hours worth of entertaining dark electronic music that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and trapped in a dark post-apocalyptic world.

https://secantprime.bandcamp.com/album/wavelets

2. Ulvestad – Fall

On the other end of the spectrum, Ulvestad presents the drone-laden, “Fall”. This minimalistic adventure commits the listener to a world of obscurity through elongated drones that build around cinematic soundscapes and grandiose production. This is as disturbing as it is tranquilizing and these four tracks tell a story through masterful synth and pad arrangements.

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

3. Tarme Til Alle – Blood Moon Prophecy

‘Blood Moon Prophecy’ is a unique recording in that it contains all of the elements of a theatrical and climactic Dark Ambient album but in a harsher sense. The tone and volume on the instrumentation is mixed louder than usual, creating a level of acerbity and distortion not normally experienced in this genre. Whereas Dark Ambient (at times) tends to be calm and soothing, this album is more abrasive, presenting more of a realistic approach to post apocalyptic and industrial themed tracks. Fortunately, it blends perfectly and I need to hear more of this!

https://tarmetilalle.bandcamp.com/releases

4. Mindspawn – Daemon

Mindspawn excel at creating a drone masterclass with the ominous ‘Daemon’. Extremely minimalistic droning with the help of some very demonic sounding effects, this may not be the album you want to fall asleep to. However, I do recommend this for those times where you need bleak soundscapes to set a harrowing mood. The modulation variants are very creative and the arrangements couldn’t be any better for a one hour recording of ominous sounds from the underworld. Don’t sleep on this one!

https://mindspawn.bandcamp.com/album/daemon

5. Flowers For Bodysnatchers – Infernal Beyond

Flowers For Bodysnatchers epitomizes the conceptual experience with each of his albums. From start to finish, you can expect an enthralling journey through realms of the obscure. On ‘Infernal Beyond’ the use of bleak soundscapes and field recordings propels this journey beyond expectation and the results are a sinister cluster of tracks that will leave the listener in a maniacal disarray. An absolutely amazing album from one of my favorite artists!

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/infernal-beyond

6. Snake Eggs – The Birdland Chakras

‘The Birdland Chakras’ is a deep dive into the dimension of industrial-tinged experimentation. The variety of sounds and noises, mixed with Dark Ambient undertones creates a frantic output and the outcome is a horrifying collection of intonations that will dismantle your very core. At times whimsical and other times sadistic, this is a well blended assemblage of sounds that is very appeasing and completely entertaining. Can’t wait to hear more from this artist.

https://snakeeggs.bandcamp.com/album/the-birdland-chakras

7. Bocci/Arrighi/Lepore – Anagrammi

Now for something a bit different. Bocci/Arrighi/Lepore combine their compositional talents to create a piano-based album full of darkened arrangements and jazzy undertones. Their masterful piano and synth manipulations present a soothing, yet gloomy take on Dark Ambient and experimental music in general. Consisting of just four tracks, the listener is provided with a forty minute journey of alluring ambience that borders improvisational madness and supremely structured tunes. This one is highly recommended for fans of dark noir themed music.

https://unexplainedsoundsgroup.bandcamp.com/album/anagrammi

8. Melkor – Hall Of Bats

‘Hall Of Bats’ embodies the minimalistic listening experience with dark, depressive drones and occasional layers of grim soundscapes and field recordings. Interestingly, there is a sparse sense of melody used throughout this recording, keeping it from become a completely bleak experience. However, it’s used as an expression of dread and increases the grandeur of this Dark Ambient spectacle. This album must be listened to from start to end to gain an appreciation for the full compositional encounter. At times, it’s like having an out-of-body experience.

https://kalpamantra.bandcamp.com/album/hall-of-bats

9. Kammarheit – Thronal

‘Thronal’ is the perfect Dark Ambient album to listen to if seeking a completely melancholic experience. Agonizing synths accompany deep and slightly distorted drones to produce a deplorable sound that is not only addictive, but mesmerizing to the point of total submission. This album is like a minimalistic soundtrack for misery and sadness and I can’t get enough of it. Highly recommended for those seeking a dark and emotional audial dialog to accompany your own personal experiences.

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

10. J. Donovan Malley – Echoes In A Cage

J. Donovan Malley packs more into this twenty two minute album than a lot of artist in an album twice the length. From warm piano ballads and soothing soundscapes to industrial-based noise fills and vocals (both operatic and harsh), ‘Echoes In A Cage’ is a compelling Dark Ambient album that goes beyond standard drones and synth modulations and explores the psyche of emotional projection. This is another expertly crafted album that I highly recommend checking out immediately!

https://jdonovanmalley.bandcamp.com/album/echoes-in-a-cage

Please Like/Follow my blog so that you’ll get first hand updates every time I post a review. Thanks for visiting the Dungeon!!

Dark Ambient, Synthwave And Noise Collide on Trajedesaliva’s Intelligent Offering, ‘Ultratumbra’

Sometimes, the best albums out there are the ones that haven’t been heard yet. There are many gems hidden away on bandcamp and often it’s like a diamond in the rough, searching for the one that offers pure cosmic bliss. Fortunately, Bandcamp is one of the best platforms for music these days – especially for obscure genres – so finding an album as impressive as ‘Ultratumbra’ by Trajedesaliva is certainly appeasing to these ears. Combining all of the elements that I love about esoteric music, ‘Ultratumbra’ delivers forty two minutes of musical euphoria that fuses Dark Ambient, noise, spoken word and retrospective synthwave. The modulations that prowl behind every corner are unexpected but are eagerly welcomed, as this album is supremely put together and most of all, enjoyable on multiple levels.

Sonic album opener, “Todo Era Blanco”, sounds like an immediate drift back into time when retro analog synths ruled the airways and the break of dawn demanded its own sound signature. This track builds in grand layers with a lot of reverberation to thicken the sound. The synths are clean without being crisp, like a morning fog clearing before a beautiful day. Spots of percussion can be heard throughout without going overboard and this is such a grand way to start this amazing album. “A Casa Por Las Vías” continues on the strengths of the first tracks with massive, elongated synths that are slightly muffled but concise in the mix. We also get our first listen of a spoken word bit (spoken in Spanish) and it sounds so bleak with the terrifying layer of noises and percussive elements happening in the background. Upon the completion of the spoken word element, there is a climatic shift in music as it builds up in devious fashion before collapsing into a beautiful and melodic synthwave track. “Familia Ferro” commences with a loud, constant tone, followed by a short spoken word piece. It immediately unfolds into harsh noise modulations that shake the foundation with its strident industrial intonations. Next up is the multi-faceted, “Arenas Calientes”. Beginning with a single keyboard chop and then quickly expanding into multiple layers before suddenly unfolding into a mechanized tone, this track goes through several pitch shifts and succeeds at altering ones mood from dark to anxious to downright maniacal. Toward the end, sharp whispers can be heard throughout, adding some mysticism to this already terrifying song. “Mamá Es Un Animal Morado” starts with a jolting tone, like a large turboprop airplane already in mid flight. However, other sound effects are introduced, creating a spacious melody and then spoken words take over. The track deviates from the harshness and turns into a somber affair and the spoken words continue to complete the calming nature of everything that is fused together up to this point. “Mammillaria Sempervivi” is another melodic affair with dreamy keyboard harmonies and a compelling bass line that’s adds a great bit of depth. The spoken words continue to tell their tale and then 80’s style keys and beats commence, adding yet another aspect to this incredibly diverse album. “Queremos Verte” maintains the keyboard harmonies of the last track but adds an extra layer of emotion with superior song writing and haunting production. Even the spoken words sound different in this track, as the narrator seems to be at ease or in a more comforting situation than previously. The final track on the album is “Ultratumbra” and it immediately begins with a line of spoken word before fusing into a harmonic keyboard composition that sounds straight out of the 80’s. This track is magnificently arranged and contains all of the elements that I love about Trajedesaliva. Although it starts out smooth and alluring, there is a middle section that begins to fill out with harsh noises and drum rhythms that’s simply infectious to listen to. This song is so wonderfully arranged, I just wish it would never end.

Although Trajedesaliva is a new artist for me, they’ve been around for over twenty years. It’s a travesty that I’m just now getting to know their craft but I couldn’t be more pleased with what I’ve been exposed to so far. From the retro compositions, nostalgic arrangements, well placed spoken word bits and great use of industrialized noise, ‘Ultratumbra’ contains everything I could ever ask for in an album. I highly recommend checking this one out so please click on the link below and support this amazing artist.

Please Like/Follow my blog so that you’ll get first hand updates every time I post a review. Thanks for visiting the Dungeon!!

Links:

https://trajedesaliva.bandcamp.com/album/ultratumba

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