Dark Music Review – Episode
Written by Casey Douglass
A mental journey through unconscious destruction
With recordings from 2013 to 2015.
The “destruction” part of the above album description seems to be the most apt part, the two tracks that make up Sound Awakener’s Episode are raw soundscapes that to some might be simply dismissed as noise. Listening more closely, you can hear the artistry in how the volume, pace and composition of the tracks changes as the time marker moves on. Let’s take a look at the tracks in sequence:
Episode – Distorted sound that seems to contain various noises. I could hear hints of wind, rattling foil, an engine. Episode is a maelstrom of ebbing and flowing noise that makes the listener feel like they are caught in a digital storm. There are moments where the sound stops totally and then stutters back into life even more violent than before. There are also great reverb type effects that sound a little like an elephant trumpeting in a blizzard.
Stones Turn To Ash – Very harsh distorted static at the start that seems to keep a balanced range. There are hints of other noises but the sheer volume of the main destructive tone leaves me more unsure if they are just audio hallucinations. As the track nears its end, I think I hear a rising and falling tone, like someone tuning a radio or messing around on a theremin.
The first thing I would say is that these are not two tracks for the uninitiated in experimental or noise based recordings. I have been listening to dark ambient and experimental stuff for a good many years now and I can’t really imagine anyone coming to these as their first exposure to this kind of music and coming away impressed. There are certain degrees of nuance that can only be detected by ears acclimatised to these kinds of track so it goes without saying that I don’t recommend these to everyone.
That being said, I enjoyed my time spent listening to them. They have enough quirks and variation to them to keep the interest, and while they might be uncomfortably raw at times (especially the beginning of Stones Turn To Ash), they never quite get to the “Sod this, I can’t take it any more!” level of audio barrage. Of the two tracks, I much preferred Episode. While a fairly desolate track, it had a bit more to it than the wall of sound thrown up by Stones Turn To Ash.
I give the album Episode 3.5/5, mainly due to the enjoyment of one track above the more monotonous second track. Played one after the other, the listener can experience the progression from one to the next and appreciate the more violent second track, which is the main reason my rating isn't nearer 50%. As a snapshot in time and an audio-emotive endeavour, I felt Episode does a good job of encapsulating what a journey through unconscious destruction might just sound like.
Visit the Episode page on Bandcamp at this link for more information.
Album Title: Episode
Artist: Sound Awakener
Release: 18 May 2015