Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Black Goat Of The Woods

Dark Ambient Review: Black Goat Of The Woods


Review By Casey Douglass



Black Goat Of The Woods Album Art
Album Art

It’s funny how life changes you. When I was a lot younger, if I thought about going down to the woods, my head was filled with ideas about a teddy bears’ picnic, or occasionally, my then irrational fear of wolves. Nowadays, if I see a particularly dark, moody patch of tree-covered ground, I can’t help but smile and wonder what kind of horror film or novel would suit being set there. Black Mountain Transmitter’s Black Goat Of The Woods is a dark ambient horror soundtrack that takes this second idea and runs with it.

The album description explains that the general idea was, firstly, to make a tip of the hat to Lovecraft and Shub Niggurath, and secondly, to create the soundtrack to a lost horror film, one that happened to be found in a decaying cabin in the deepest part of the woods. What the listener finds in Black Goat Of The Woods is a fuzzing, pulsing, reality distorting swirl of unsettling sounds, eclectic tones and an ever present sense of being alone with something coming for you. This all takes place on one, forty minute long track, with each change in mood or tone flowing in a way that takes you deeper and deeper.

Around the 2:15 mark, things really feel like they get creepy. A variety of low wooden creaking sounds echo into the distance, with a strange piping tone seeming to summon a rumbling, windy space. This is joined by a pulsing, electronic miasma of pressure, like something is building and pressing against reality. I liked the “woody” feeling of this section of the track as it sets the scene so nicely for a jaunt in the woods. The electronic elements add a fun dose of discord to things, almost howling or growling at times. When these give way to a period of melodic pipe notes, it feels just as strange and whimsical.

Just after the 14 minute mark, the chiming of a bell begins, strange echoes and warbles playing off the edge of the sound wave. There is an owl-like hooting pipe tone and a sense of the wind, which immediately sets the scene of night having fallen. There is a fuzzy pulsing and a low throbbing that nestle into airy rushes and electronic fluctuations. Things deepen over some minutes, and the pipe notes seem to gain a yipping female vocal quality. I enjoyed how the same instrument seemingly gave rise to so many impressions, and the bell chiming gives this stretch a nice feeling of time running out.

At the 31:20 mark, a different kind of chiming begins. This is more ritual, more gong-like. The resonance created by whatever is being struck twists and warps downwards, an almost guttural voice warbling in the confusion of sound waves. A low rumble emerges with a gritty, trundling quality to it. There is some reverb that agitates the soundscape, some hints of what might be the flapping of wings, and later, a depressing organ-like melody. If time was running out in the previous section mentioned, I think the end is here at this particular point.

Black Goat Of The Woods is a dark ambient album with a lovely aesthetic for horror fans. At the beginning and the end, there are a few minutes of music to signify the opening and end credit music, and the thirty five minutes in-between is filled with the soundtrack to a waking nightmare on a sunny, hazy day in the woods. This nightmare goes from bad to worse, with night falling, confusion as to where you are, and something sinister with a love of shrill piping notes, following your every move. A fun, dark, fuzzy, retro-feeling horror soundtrack album.


Visit the Black Goat Of The Woods page on Bandcamp for more information.


I reviewed this album by streaming it from the Bandcamp page.


Album Title: Black Goat Of The Woods

Album Artist: Black Mountain Transmitter

Released: 31 October 2009

Sunday, 1 August 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Moth Star

Dark Ambient Review: Moth Star


Review By Casey Douglass



Moth Star Album Art

Moth Star is a dark ambient album from Altarmang, a music project created by Kenneth Hansson and Pär Boström. The album is described as an exploration of the patterns formed by the planets and the stars above, with a title that possibly hints at a lone, malevolent star that draws the curious under its influence, like moths to a candle flame.

Opening track Saiph gives a telling introduction to how the album will sound. It begins with an undulating drone and unnerving echoing pulses. A light tone floats and caresses as the deeper layers rumble and swell with ominous sounds. It feels dream-like and desolate, yet also incredibly old. It made me think of a pitch-black landscape with a lone crumbling building, and a moon-light so faint that all it does is give the merest of outlines to the structure. Creepy but fun to “walk” around.

My favourite track is Saturnine. It starts with a low drone and a hollow tube-like buzzing. The soundscape has a chant-like quality and features a relaxed pulsing and throbbing sensation. There are screechy, fuzzy sounds, distortion and blaring tones. There is the sound of metal impacting and sliding, and an agitating static that stirs the mixture. For me, this track felt like listening to some kind of infernal workshop, one that is deep underground and is the hot crucible in which death-dealing machines are birthed.

The final track Moth Star is a fitting end to the album. It feels like a windy, watchful soundscape, one in which the relaxed smooth tone seems to stoke the wind’s waxing and waning. This is a fuzzy, reverb-graced, gritty track, one with a hint of the void and of great forces at work. It’s also a track that feels like the audio equivalent of a giant being blowing all of the dust from a dead planet’s surface while a strange star looks on in glee.

Moth Star is a dark dream in audio form, a dream of the abyss, a dream of unknown influences that have unknowable aims. The soundscapes manage to hook into that Lovecraftian feeling that I really enjoy, that of cosmic horror and of how the human race should cower in the face of forces that could easily obliterate us and think nothing of it. Moth Star feels vast, deep and very dark. If you like your dark ambient to chill your soul in a soothing, almost relaxed fashion, you should check out Moth Star.


Visit the Moth Star page on Bandcamp for more information.


I reviewed this album by streaming from the Bandcamp page.


Album Title: Moth Star

Album Artist: Altarmang

Released: 21 December 2020

Friday, 30 July 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Fifth Nature

Dark Ambient Review: Fifth Nature


Review By Casey Douglass



Fifth Nature Album Cover

One of the main consequences of social media and its “instant stardom for extreme view holders” is that thinking in shades of grey is sadly a rare thing to see. Everything boils down to a “with us or against us” standpoint, with the nuance and complexity of an issue banished to the side-lines. Fifth Nature is a cinematic dark ambient album from Skrika, one that contains a narrative featuring two sides of just such an issue.

Fifth Nature’s album description explains that the events that it depicts are happening in the distant future, that the Earth is fucked, and that the remaining people are split into two different camps: The Lemmites and the Atom Priesthood. The former think that even more technological intervention is the answer, the latter, that nature should be left alone and not meddled with. This sets the scene for sometimes mechanical, sometimes biological, sometimes ritual soundscapes, with chants and field recordings of the natural elements brushing up against sci-fi electronic tones.

My favourite track is Apokrytein. It begins with a deep droning chant and an ear to ear rushing sound. A male vocal begins to sing, a sighing quality in the soundscape behind it at times. When the singing stops, the soundscape fills with hushed whispers and more sensations of flowing air. A deeper sacral chanting begins, and shortly after, a floating high tone. A guttural throat gurgle insinuates itself from the shadows just before a choral vocal starts, the same guttural sound seeming to laugh a short time later. For me, this track felt like a temple peppered with flickering candle-flames, a sermon and the faithful gathered for solace and guidance, with a strange, mutated and unknown visitor chuckling as it peeps through a gap in the wall from the outside.

Another track that really stood out for me was Mechanics of Desolation. This is a rumbling track, with hints of wind that has a faint howling quality. There is a hollow, echoing beat and a bat-like chittering in response, followed by slow, chiming beats. This track feels like it’s “of the junk-yard”, metallic knocks and tones that all come together to create a rhythmic soundscape. There is a roulette-wheel clicking, a gas-like hiss and a grinding stone scraping. It has a feel of rattling bones too, and many of the elements come together at times to create the impression of a doomsday clock ticking away in some dark cathedral.

Seventh Extinction is also a track that I particularly enjoyed. It starts with a low drone and an electronic growl nestled amidst the sound of wind. String-like notes weave in the air and a breathless scuffling can be heard in the soundscape. Higher tones emerge later, along with an organ-like feel to things. This track felt like some kind of angry android trying to perform a task but getting bogged down by the rot and decay that it finds itself in.

Fifth Nature is a journey into a bleak future, one where technology and faith clash together on the battlefield of a ruined Earth. The two main characters mentioned in the album description do reconcile, but apparently, far too late to save the planet. It’s a multi-layered, dark album, one that presents the various elements at play in an accomplished and satisfying way. I look forward to hearing more of Skrika’s creations on Cryo Chamber.

Visit the Fifth Nature page on Bandcamp for more information. You can also check out the track Apokrytein below:


I was given a review copy of this album.


Album Title: Fifth Nature

Album Artist: Skrika

Label: Cryo Chamber

Released: 20 July 2021

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Journey of a Dying Girl

Dark Ambient Review: Journey of a Dying Girl


Review By Casey Douglass



Journey of a Dying Girl Album Cover
Album Cover

Death, or brushes with death, are probably the ultimate contact with reality. They offer a fresh perspective on how you view yourself and the world, and cut through so much of the fluff of life. Scott Lawlor’s Journey of a Dying Girl is a dark ambient album themed around one such experience: an attack, a floating between worlds, and a person returning to life utterly changed by the event.

Journey of a Dying Girl achieves the depiction of its theme by creating soundscapes infused with duality. The light tones and vocals nestle on a sea of low drones and rumblings, and this creates a feeling of the ethereal and the mundane brushing up against each other. There are piano and string notes, and a pleasing hint of the breeze that for me, firmly cemented the soundscapes as happening outside. These are tracks that flow and ebb as they play, each swell and fall of tone carrying the listener along.

My favourite track was Covered in Darkness. It opens with a low pulsing and a high distant whistling tone. A gentle drone sits in the background, a perpetual “ahhhh” populated with small chiming notes. As the track intensifies, there is a whistle like a metal kettle coming to the boil, a pleasing shimmering, and later, crackling, shuffling movements, along with what sounds like dripping leaves. This track made me think of a person walking through a black fog during the day time, tiny glinting pixie lights flaring and sputtering in the thick air particles around them.

Exit this Dimension is another track that I really enjoyed. It starts with a climbing and echoey female vocal sitting in a droning, breath-like space. The drone grows and a pulsing ringing tone emerges. Some time around the midpoint, the female vocal begins to create the impression of falling, with what I thought were the hisses of whispering at the fringes. Like Covered in Darkness, this felt like one of the darker tracks on the album, a meeting of one world with another.

Finally, the last track, In the Middle of a Garden, You Will See a Rose, is a great track for the album to end with. The album description describes the dying girl as coming back to life, and this track seems a great accompaniment to that. It begins with echoing piano notes and an insect-like buzz. There are the sounds of wind and leaves, with smooth high tones joining piano notes. There are bird-call-like electronic tones that seem to fall, a gentle drone and a pulsing feeling. This is a gentle track to end the album with, its darker tones and mood merging with a feeling of overcoming something, even if the act of overcoming has a high price.

Journey of a Dying Girl is the sound of a peaceful dalliance between the worlds of the living and the dying. While many dark ambient albums achieve their darker elements by more explicit means, this album creates a more subtle, smooth, depiction of the dark. It’s a chill and relaxing listen, and one that I believe is well worth your time to check out.

Visit the Journey of a Dying Girl page on Bandcamp for more information.


I was given a review copy of this album.


Album Title: Journey of a Dying Girl

Album Artist: Scott Lawlor

Released: 16 July 2021

Sunday, 25 July 2021

Dark Ambient Review: The Dark Side of Obscurity [EP]

Dark Ambient Review: The Dark Side of Obscurity [EP]


Review By Casey Douglass



The Dark Side of Obscurity [EP] Cover Art

When people start to piss you off, particularly the stories that they tell about each other or about the state of the world, by which I mean the “news”, I’m always thankful for dark ambient music and its ability to push everything away. The Dark Side of Obscurity is a dark ambient EP from Equidon, and its three cinematic tracks give the mind a great mini-break from society.

The first track is Underground System and it’s my favourite. It sets off with muffled, distant cracks of thunder, or explosions of some kind. A growing drone accompanies them, and a wind-like hiss that seems to blow a gust of pressure through the soundscape. A small “tappy” beat begins, and as the track progresses, this starts to feel more and more like a clock ticking. Over time, the track becomes a whispering, crackling space, the hissing wind sounding a little more howling as the end looms. There is even a little audio skip or glitch at intervals that wakes you from the lull of the drone. A dark track that really does feel like traversing dark tunnels while some calamity is happening upon the surface.

The next track is Nuclear Submarine. It starts with plinking, creaking echoes, the kind made by things floating in water and bumping into hard metal edges. The water glugs, there is a hiss of air, and a slow, low buzzing tone begins. This is a dense track, one that feels like being pushed down or confined in a small dark place. There are high elements such as a shimmer that comes and goes, but for the most part, this is a throbbing, murky track, one perfectly suited to pondering what it might be like to be stranded in a submarine, fathoms below the surface of the sea.

The final track is Approaching. This is a lighter track in comparison to the others, but still a strange one. It contains tones that warp and twist, and metallic clattering sounds. The sound of “smoothed” thunder appears a little later, small impacts and a quiet shimmer joining the droning space. I’m not sure how I’d describe what might be going on here. Maybe a psychic is summoning another being in a dark, musty cellar, the sounds of distant nightlife occasionally breaking through. It’s peaceful though, chant-like.

The Dark Side of Obscurity is a micro-dose of dark ambient to get you through your day. We are often told the benefit of taking a ten minute mindfulness breather, so why not take a 17 minute infusion of darkness on your lunch-break? If you are anything like me, it could be just the trick after you’ve eaten your sandwiches, stretched your legs, and realised just how tense your neck and shoulders have become. Sample some murk before getting back to work.

Visit the The Dark Side of Obscurity page on Bandcamp for more information.


Album Title: The Dark Side of Obscurity [EP]

Album Artist: Equidon

Released: 2 July 2021

Friday, 23 July 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Aerography, Vol. I

Dark Ambient Review: Aerography, Vol.I


Review By Casey Douglass



Aerography, Vol. I


Mars is an enigmatic planet, one that looms large in the mind of anyone thinking about how humanity can become an interplanetary species. For a seemingly barren planet, it isn’t half beautiful to look at, knowing how remote it is from us. Aerography, Vol. I is a dark ambient album from composer Rodolfo Pitti, an album themed around Mars and a doomed astronaut mission to its surface. Some of the sounds that are used to achieve this are swirling tones, pulsing bass and electronic soundscapes that seem infused with the triumphant impression of “We are here!” even if things are going very badly for the fictional astronauts.

My favourite track is The Uninhabitable Caves of Mars. It begins with a low drone, one that is soon joined by a kind of rising and falling “spaceship flying over” sound. It feels like a cascade of pressure, with low hisses and barks possibly being the sound of ghost’s voices; maybe the beings who first lived on Mars millions of years ago. High gentle beeps emerge from the swirl, echoing rushing sounds feeling like there is movement where nothing can be seen. A dark, creeping sci-fi track.

Valles Marineris Reconnaissance Drone is another track that I enjoyed, as it is another track that had its own kind of darkness. This track opens with a rising and ominous bass melody, one that almost blares like a sinister horn. It feels like it edges into the kind of heavy you might hear in a heavy metal track; snarling electric guitar and fuzz. There is a roughness to the other tones, and flurries of sound at the edges. I got the mental image of a drone skimming the Martian landscape, each swell of the soundscape revealing the next valley or dried up ocean. The track feels a little lighter after the midpoint, but on the whole, another dark track.

Finally, Our Hearts Yearn For Something Mars Can't Supply is a track that appealed to me for different reasons. Whereas the previously mentioned tracks were dark, this one felt light, but in a strange way. After a delicate start, the soundscape feels like it spins up into a shimmering space of dancing high tones and airy “fluttering”. This combination gave me the mental image of a ball of golden light with strange mechanical red moths flitting around its surface. It felt like something flying in sunlight to me at the least. A sad track, but also a nice one.

Aerography, Vol. I is an album that creates the feeling of vast vistas on an unforgiving planet. There is a sci-fi aesthetic that underpins everything, and as I said in the first paragraph, a kind of triumphant, even celebratory feeling that seems to emerge in each track. I like this mixture of triumph and doom. It feels like the audio equivalent of someone trying really hard to teleport somewhere using only the power of their mind, achieving it, being ecstatic, and then realising that they are falling from the sky a split second later.

Visit the Aerography, Vol. I page on Bandcamp for more information.

Album Title: Aerography, Vol. I

Album Artist: Rodolfo Pitti

Released: 10 July 2021

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Dark Ambient Review: La Peste

Dark Ambient Review: La Peste


Review By Casey Douglass



La Peste


La Peste is a dark ambient collaboration between Vallée des Larmes & Catacombes de Paris, one that takes the period of The Black Death as its fevered muse. You’d think that I’d have no real appetite for listening to music themed around plagues and mass death right now, but strangely, I do. Maybe it’s because, for all its effect on the world, Covid-19 is nowhere near as bad as it could have been. If it was a virus which proved fatal to everyone who caught it however... the thought just boggles the mind.

The tracks of La Peste fall under the stewardship of each of the creators. Vallée des Larmes’ creations tend to feature distorted music and noise-filled vocals, while Catacombes de Paris’ soundscapes tend to fall into what feels more like the dark ambient genre that I know and love. For the most part, I gravitated more towards Catacombes de Paris’ tracks for this reason, but Vallée des Larmes’ are certainly something to be experienced.

Stella Caeli Exstir Pavit is the opening track of the album, and is from Vallée des Larmes. It begins with cracking thunder and a variety of voices and singing. These are underpinned by deep swells of tone and later, a high radio-like squeal. A repetitive sound-bite says “Shut your eyes and you’ll burst into flames”, and at the midpoint, a violent distorted beat accompanied by a chirruping sound agitates the soundscape into a harsher, forceful space. The smooth voices, the dark words and the harshness set up interesting conflicts, and the way that the track ends with monk chanting is very pleasing. It feels like a battle of wills and outlooks crashing against death.

My favourite tracks comes from Catacombes de Paris, and are Ritual I, II and III. The first opens with a slow, chiming beat and echoing plucked vibrating strings. There is a rasping insidious whisper, and a sparkling shimmer. Around the midpoint, there are small moments of a faster drumbeat that reverberate into the distance, and a crumping impact sounds at times. Ritual II comes a little later on the album, and is a deep, rumbling soundscape, with a high tone that crackles and distorts, and a breath-infused, droning, marching-beat infused space. Ritual III follows hot on its heels and is a knocking, echoing space, with screeching metal tones, quiet blares of sound and delicate chiming notes. I enjoyed all three tracks as they felt like three dark scenes or places. They felt deep, powerful and vast, and like strange forces were moving in the abyss.

La Peste might well be a battle between the human and spiritual elements that were around during the time of The Black Death. The voice and distorted music populated tracks from Vallée des Larmes could be seen as the human side, their words and songs trying to stem the flow of death. The hissing, mysterious cavernous soundscapes of Catacombes de Paris might well be the response from “the other side”. This notion didn’t occur to me until I sat to write this review but it seems quite apt as a way to view things. Regardless, if like me, you give yourself some kind of therapy by deliberately basking in worst-case scenarios, scenarios that make what has actually happened seem less extreme, I think you’ll find tracks to enjoy on La Peste.

Visit the La Peste page on Bandcamp for more information.


I was given a review copy of this album.


Album Title: La Peste

Album Artist: Vallée des Larmes & Catacombes de Paris

Label: Noctivagant

Released: 3 July 2021