It’s no secret that modern day humanity loves a good disaster story, especially if it made it’s ways to the annals of history at the expense of hundreds (or even thousands) of lives, or if the monetary value was so high, that it would take decades for companies to recover from them. Just a few off the top of my head that I can recollect are the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Bhopal gas spill in India, sinking of The Titanic, the Pan Am/KLM Tenerife Airport disaster of 1977, and most famously, the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. The Chernobyl disaster painted an extremely grim picture of how government & society – at the time – dealt with downplaying an incident of such a magnitude, that many lives were lost, a complete city was left in ruins and never to be inhabited again, and the cancerous fallout still lingers in survivors of the incident to this day. There have been many fictional and non-fiction movies and TV shows, and musicians that have become a sounding board for the incident in popular culture. However, none of them have quite hit home like ‘Ashen Winter Of Chernobyl’, a near two and a half hour-long monument by Hiemal.
The forty two minute long album opener, “Ghost Town” tells a dreary story of life in Pripyat after the last of the city’s population abandons for safety. These smooth, spacey drones sway back and forth in an eerie pattern as if you’re along in the sunless city, patrolling the streets to ensure the evacuation process has completed successfully. “Chernobyl’s Shrine” is a twenty six minute long, extremely bleak drone, that has a very calm and demeaning wintery vibe, as if you’re standing in one of the desolate parks looking out into the nothingness and holding your hand to catch the snow. Only it’s not snow but the traveling ash from reactor number four, less than twenty miles away. Next is “Falling Ash Over The Exclusion Zone” and it continues with the same atmospheric standard as the previous track. Knowing what this album represents, this track is especially relaxing and frightening at the same time. The final epic song on the album, “The Forests Claim Back Pripyat” is a heavyweight anthem coming in at over forty five minutes long and represents the many years of solitude the city has gone through and the only inhabitants allowed are that of Mother Nature. As the ash fades, and the smog gives way to sunlight, natural growth takes over Pripyat and reclaims its territory.
Hiemal have created a wonderful story that tells the harsh reality of mans mistakes and the disappointment of never recovering. ‘Ashen Winter Of Chernobyl’ is well written and produced and the atmosphere on this album is simply stunning. Support this outstanding artist and download this album by clicking on the link below.
The struggles of fathoming time and space are real and the theme for a lot of space ambient releases is to expose the elements of deep space to the point where certain aspects are justified for exploration. Typically in most releases, there is an introduction of calmness before journeying to the outermost regions of the unknown. There, the music becomes darker with obsidian themes, usually resulting in a harsh ending with no turning back. However, on the latest recording by Melanohelios called, ‘VII: Warmth Within Endless Emptiness’, the cosmic ambient adventure takes us in the opposite direction.
Album opener – the near twenty minute long, “Void” – slowly builds into a dreadful flight of the unknown, that at first seem hopeless and endless for the protagonist. By the end, deep drones provide optimism for the mission at hand. Continuing on with “Inner Self”, morbid field recordings and industrial-like soundscapes provide an additional nightmarish spectacle that once again abolished all hope of success. “Fathoms” is twenty eight minutes of purgatory for the protagonist as the transition to light space is upon him. During this reasonably lengthy blackout period, we hear heavy breathing as he can only hope and wait out the middle-ground terror that is providing the safe passage to warm space. “Warmth” and “Warmth II” is the culmination of light space travel and the successful completion of the mission and/or the arrival at a safe destination to an Earthly environment where the scenery is alive and two way communication between beings exists.
As with all of the previous Melanohelios albums, there tends to be a well thought out theme that encompasses each track, that takes the listener on an unfathomable journey. ‘VII: Warmth Within Endless Emptiness’ is an exceptional story that is told well by a voiceless protagonist. Not only is the name – Melanohelios – a cool name for a dark ambient artist, but the logo has to be one of the best of the genre! Initially, one would think this would be a black metal album based solely on the logo, and although black metal & dark ambient do have similarities, this is strictly ambient art at its best! If dark, space ambient is your thing, it doesn’t get much better than Melanohelios so click on the link below and support this amazing artist!
Isn’t dark ambient a wonderful thing? Throughout the years – and with the help of expanding technology and more keen-eared artists – dark ambient has taken on a massive life form of its on, even producing multiple sub-genre’s to distinguish the many soundscapes that make up this wonderful culture. Of these sub-genre’s, space ambient seems to be taking off (no pun intended) into the outer limits of our hearing zone! Space ambient is usually known for its super long track lengths, droning tones that give you that feeling of claustrophobia, and ethereal soundscapes that provide a launchpad to endless reaches of the universes. If a dark ambient track can accomplish all of these, then in my opinion, it’s a successful space ambient recording.
‘Unseemly Sequenced Conscience’, the third collaboration effort by Scott Lawlor and The Flesh, Full Of Black Sand, accomplishes all of that and then some. In this single track, seventy six minute opus, they take us on a horrific journey through deep space as if we’ve been traveling for decades in the confined quarters of a spacecraft on a one-way mission to nowhere. I love the song intro, as it reminds me of the quirky sounds that are heard while walking through Disney’s Space Mountain attraction. I can imagine the imaginary protagonist that this journey portrays heard those exact same sounds as he left earth decades ago, knowing his fate of never returning. As the song slowly drones on, the sounds thicken, to represent the endless travels through the unknown regions of deep spaces. As claustrophobia starts to set in, the silence becomes deafening, and the layers of sound builds and climaxes several times.
The production on this recording is crystal clear and the mix is a bit louder than on the previous two collaborations by these two stellar artists. As the droning fades in and out, there isn’t any loss of clarity in the track, easily paving the way for additional elements to be introduced throughout. Although this single-track album is seventy six minutes long, there is so much going on that before you know it, the song is over with and you’ll be wanting more.
This is an excellent representation of dark ambient and the space ambient sub-genre and I’m definitely a fan! Scott Lawlor & The Flesh, Full Of Black Sand are on to something here and I hope to hear many more collaborations from these artists. Don’t pass this one by, head on over to the link below and support this awesome body of work!