Dark Music Review – Red Moon
Review Written By Casey Douglass
Red Moon is Phonothek’s second album on Cryo Chamber, continuing the theme of the inevitable death of our planet. A sad lonely trumpet echoes between ruined apartment complexes. The ground is dry and dusty, nothing grows here. Where once laughter of children lingered, now only the creak of broken swings remain. The earth is dying. The chosen got on the ships, but not you. Red Moon explores a world in flames through use of atonal instrumentation and layered atmospherics. Recorded in Georgia (Europe) it brings the sound of the old world to life as it shines light on the new and dying one.
The album description above certainly paints a tantalising picture for fans of the post-apocalyptic and dark ambient music genre. If you fall into either, or both, of these camps, I think you will enjoy any time spent in the company of Red Moon. I think it also might be an album that uses more brass instruments than any other I’ve listened to, in any genre. This certainly added to my interest in the compositions but on a personal level, I think that I found I’m not the biggest fan of brass instruments, no matter how skilfully deployed. There are other instruments too, some lovely violin notes and the tones of a piano, so I don’t mean to make the brass stuff more prominent than it is.
Phonothek makes excellent use of voices to add strange atmospheres to his soundscapes. Whether they are talking calmly and roaming from ear to ear, or more distant echoes, they add a human element to soundscapes that hint at the very scarcity of human involvement. I was particularly impressed with the effect achieved on third track: Come in the Whisper, the “te-te-te” aspect of what is being said setting up a hypnotic beat that sits perfectly with the other sounds around it, which in this case are echoing whispers, the see-sawing of strings and deep vibrations. Think of Gollum’s cave in LOTR, but a much more hostile and creepy space, and you are half way there.
Cry From The Abyss is another standout track for me, one that begins with bubbling water pressure and seems to get deeper and deeper as it progresses. The high tones and deep thrum made me think of some kind of leviathan creature swimming through the darkness, a halo of luminescent plankton or something similar illuminating its massive flanks. This track created a feeling of “stifling distance” for me, and it was quite enjoyable.
In the Smell of the Wolves is another track that I wanted to mention, and in this the brass instrument used does a tremendous job of sounding like a wolf’s howl at times. The track also features a strong beat and a chant-like vocal that gives every impression of a wolf hunting along abandoned streets as rain washes the asphalt.
I enjoyed Red Moon but I did find the brass instruments really not to my taste. There were a few instances of the blowing of air down one instrument without a note being played, almost like trying to clear a non-existent blockage. I just found it slightly irritating and it brought me out of any revelry I might have entered. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as other tracks do this in their own way at times too, the earlier mentioned Come in the Whisper gets a little overloaded for me after a sinister start, but in that instance I appreciated the effect. I could imagine that Red Moon will really chime with someone who has a more natural warmth towards brass tones, but as with all music, check it out yourself and make up your own mind. A very decent album.
Visit the Red Moon page on Bandcamp here for more information, and be sure to check out Come in the Whisper below:
I was given a free copy of this album to review.
Album Title: Red Moon
Label: Cryo Chamber
Released: April 4, 2017