Dark Music Review – Endtime Psalms
Review Written By Casey Douglass
Aegri somnia returns with his long awaited second album on Cryo Chamber. The hum of the Endtime Psalms echo through burnt out buildings. Awaiting impending death as the sky grows dark. Black smoke wheezing from charred windows. We were born from stardust, but are but puppets in a mindless game of DNA manipulation, life. Deep analogue drones rumble under the heavy boots of the human machine. Aegri Somnia plays the role of field recorder and audio manipulator with surgical precision.
The analogue drones of Endtime Psalms really put me in mind of some of the 80s synth-type soundtracks seen in sci-fi or horror movies of that era. While not the same, I must admit to half expecting a sun-glasses wearing leather jacket clad hero chewing a toothpick and squinting into the twilight of sunset to appear. Those images soon left me once I broke into the album proper though, the soundscapes created by Aegri Somnia far darker than any film.
Most of the tracks feature a selection of field-recordings that sit well with the drones, from water-based dripping or waves, to more industrial metal creakings, clankings and scrapings. Some of these effects are toyed with and twisted into something more sinister, distortions and strange echoes creating an immersive narrative, even if you don’t fully know what is happening and can only guess. A good example of this is the very first track C.A.H.R, a track that begins with the gentle sound of water, is met by a textured analogue drone and android scream-like distortions, but ends with what sounds like a pursuit through crunching snow.
The track Endtime Psalms also features some wet field-recording, but I must admit that the wet flapping at the start made my mind think more of a body being skinned for some reason. Maybe that is just me being twisted though. A sacral drone and a deeper counterpoint interplay with static as things thicken. The midpoint of the track features voices, insects and more wetness, before a lighter melody sees the track to its end.
DNA Cult is another track that I particularly enjoyed, its gentle start of static and quiet squeaks soon joined by pleasing tones, but around the midpoint changes into a grinding insect-leg scratching space, furtive scurryings accompanied by a quiet bell tolling and chimes. The track ends with delicate beeps of Morse code, changing slightly into a more buzzing-beep as it ends. I liked DNA Cult for creating the sensation of lightness and darkness, and with the title of the track in mind, the inference of a future-looking immortality project being thwarted by human frailty and evil intentions.
Something else that Endtime Psalms does very well is to toy with the listener’s expectations when it comes to how a track is behaving. A number of tracks feature the building of layers, maybe a drone, other tones and field-recordings, but sometimes, just as one element sounds like it is slowly fading out, it might end even more abruptly than you thought, leaving a void that the other sounds still playing make seem even more powerful. This isn’t glaring or disrupting in any way, just a very clever device for keeping things slightly unpredictable.
Anyone who has read enough of my dark ambient reviews will probably know that I appreciate albums that make quite heavy use field-recordings, so I found myself almost naturally liking Endtime Psalms. The analogue drones were something that I was struggling to find words to describe, they certainly feel like they have a warmth or texture that other drones might lack, and I appreciate their effect on the way the other sounds are received by the listener. The soundscapes created are dark and interesting, and the level of talent that has gone in to making this album certainly shines through. If you like drone-heavy field-recorded dark ambient, this is an album well worth checking out.
Visit the Endtime Psalms page on Bandcamp here for more information, and be sure to check out DNA Cult below.
I was given a free copy of this album to review.
Album Title: Endtime Psalms
Artist: Aegri Somnia
Label: Cryo Chamber
Released: March 7, 2017