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.

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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.

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sumatran Black was the first.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 1: In the Dread

Part 2: Fathomz

Part 3: A Taxonomy of Grief

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15. Are there plans for more Haram Tapes releases?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links:

https://sumatranblack.bandcamp.com

https://www.sumatranblackrecords.com

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

https://youtube.com/user/reevespeterson

https://haramtapes.bandcamp.com

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

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

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

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

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Links:

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

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

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

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

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

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Links:

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

Hilyard Unveils Another High-Caliber Drone Excursion With ‘Division Cycle’

There is a reason why Cryo Chamber is the premiere label for cinematic, dark ambient music, as they consistently release stellar albums on a continual basis. Even artists such as Hilyard – that release other albums independently – seem to put out his best work under the leading label in the genre. ‘Division Cycle’ is no exception and it’s slowly becoming one of my favorite Dark Ambient releases of they year. Not only does it excel in drone modulations, but the cinematic quality is stellar and creates an addictive combination of mesmerizing tunes and emotional concepts, that demands multiple listens. Whereas 2018’s ‘Furthermore’ was a masterclass in Space Ambience, ‘Division Cycle’ is an exploration into an anatomical realm of grand design.

Lead off track, “Division Cycle” is heavy on the soundscapes in the beginning while a sustainable drone slowly builds. Synth effects provide a bit of melody while the trance-like forces maintain a powerful timbre. After several minutes, the track quietly (and slowly) descends into darkness, providing a dynamic introduction to the remainder of the album. Next up is the mesmerizing, “Equal Segments”. Not only is this my favorite song on the album, it is probably my favorite Dark Ambient song of the year so far. The layers of drones are extremely thick and they are positioned in such a way that emotions can be felt from their reverberations. A couple of minutes in, synth pads create a beautiful melody that is not only captivating, but equally serene. Although this track is just over six minutes long, I wish it were about fifteen or twenty minutes in length, in order to sustain that mindless state. “Of Hatred And Wrath” is an excellent follow on track as it continues the calming nature of the previous track, but adds a bit of depth and darkness to it as well. The flow of this song is so smooth and haunting, you’ll not want it to end, as it’s inductive of an out-of-body experience. Subtle soundscapes portray an ominous escape, but the over arching theme is relaxation of the mind and spirit. “Altars Of Warflesh” commences with a malevolent drone and theme-worthy soundscapes, as mischievous activity seems perpetual. The drones grow louder and closer as if destruction is imminent, but consoling synths & pads play dismal melodies that add to this daring adventure. “Feed The Earth” is another track of consoling drones but this time complimented by ghostly vocals. There is something eerie about this track that will leave the listener in total awe and unnerved at the same time. This is probably my second favorite track on the album and I could listen to this one over and over again and feel several types of ways with each listen. “Roots And Bones” begins with maniacal field recordings and minimalistic soundscapes over quiet albeit drifting drones. It’s as if you’re floating in a field of nothingness but headed slowly to a destination of importance, however as you get closer to the end, it seems to drift further away. The power of this music speaks in volumes with the variances of emotions that are created and observed with each listen. “Heartwood Reverie” contains bleak drones that leisurely builds in layers, while providing a stable platform to transform the mental state to another dimension. This is one of the most minimalistic tracks on the album, but it’s extremely alluring and conforms to the rest of the album perfectly. “Abandoned The Ramparts” initiates with ghastly soundscapes that fade into a spacey drone with a soft water-like field recording in the background. As the field recording dissipates, the drones become more existent and remain consistently hypnotizing until the completion of the track. The final song on the album is “To The Warmth Of Pyres (feat Dronny Darko & ProtoU)” and it’s an immaculate way to close out this impeccable album. Beginning with soothing field recordings and soundscapes, layers of synths & pads start to release audial tension as an audible dreamscape begins to unfold. The superb collaboration of these artists can be felt in each elongated note as a quest for solace and darkness unravels. So adventurous, yet remaining calm and pretentious, this is such an amazing track to close out the album as it properly summarizes the approach of all of the previous tracks.

Hilyard’s second album on the Cryo Chamber label is much different from his initial offering, but it speaks in volumes of the type of artist he is. Whether it’s lighter ambient (that is mostly presented on his own Bandcamp page), Space Ambient, or the haunting drones of ‘Division Cycle’, Hilyard is a seasoned ambient artist that has the skills needed to release countless cinematic adventures. Not only is the cover of ‘Division Cycle’ a proper representation of the album, but the music contained within is some of the best Dark Ambient/Drone music released this year so far. I highly recommend checking out this album so please click on the link below and support Cryo Chamber and ‘Division Cycle’ by Hilyard.

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Links:

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/division-cycle

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

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

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

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

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Links:

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Veinte 33 Records Compilation – From Perihelion To Aphelion

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

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

3. Sabled Sun – 2149

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

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

4. Taphephobia – Blue Hour

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

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

5. Anastasia Vronski – In The Dark

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

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

6. MNZKRT – MNZKRT

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

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

7. Material Loss – EP

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

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

8. BECKAHESTEN – Vattenhålens Dräpare

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

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

9. Shedir – Finite Infinity

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

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

10. Aegri Somnia – Nusquam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Links:

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