Tuesday 28 April 2015

Dark Music Review - Reminiscences

Dark Music Review – Reminiscences

Written by Casey Douglass

Reminiscences is a Dark Ambient album with a cinematic edge that draws its conceptual basis from apocalyptic science fiction. This album features the darkest side of Zalys, focusing on schizophrenic sounds, post-apocalyptic textures, industrial elements and disturbing atmospheres that will summon and invoke thrilling images of a blight future in the vast immensity of outer space.

When first-person survival game Alien: Isolation was released, I got firmly into the horror/sci-fi groove, the cold expanse of space and the hard metal of the space-station just worked together to leave me fancying more. I didn’t have too long to wait for another piece of media to come along and scratch that itch. Reminiscences by Zalys channels that hostile-to-man feeling and mixes it with the majesty of space.

What I really enjoyed about Reminiscences is the feeling of desolation conveyed by almost every track, the tones and drones subtle and smooth, with just the right hint of high-pitched resonances and echoes to create genuinely dark spaces.

The album starts with the creaking metal of “Leaking in the Machine Room”, its minimal beat and echoing signals a fitting soundtrack for a camera drone as it explores the nether regions of some hulking derelict spaceship maybe. That was the image suggested by my imagination anyway. This is something Zalys makes great use of, the less-is-more approach to dark ambient, echoing beeps, quiet drones and lots of space for the tracks to breathe. A perfect example of this is track three, “Hopeless Mind”, a soundscape that uses some lovely high-pitched resonances overlaid on a drone that pulsates ominously in the background.

One track that tickled my nostalgia gland was “Industrial Dementia”, a track that uses a lovely resonance that put me in mind of the opening scene to PC game Half-life, just at the part where the experiment goes wrong, but a longer and more subtle version of this.

The final track that I wanted to mention by name is “System Failure”. It starts in a quite muted way but doesn’t take very long before a noise begins that sounds like the strange call of some insane human, or strange creature. Later on in the track, sounds like something breathing and pacing issue forth, a sinister and chilling thing to hear.

Reminiscences certainly lives up to its album description quoted at the start of the review, every track seeming to evoke some gloomy vision of the fading splendour of a technological race that has seen better days. It’s a subtle journey for the most part, nothing really jarring or in your face about the tracks therein. I give Reminiscences a solid 4/5, and think it would be a great listen for anyone with an interest in sci-fi or the more cinematic styled dark ambient type of album.

Visit the Reminiscences page on Bandcamp here for more info.

I was given a free copy of the album to review.

Album Title: Reminiscences
Album Artist: Zalys
Label: Arecibo Records
Release Date: 10th March 2015

Dark Game Review - Killing Floor 2

I take a look at Zed slaying PC gore-fest Killing Floor 2 over on Amongst Geeks here.
Image © Copyright Tripwire Interactive

Thursday 23 April 2015

Dark Music Review – The Old City OST

Dark Music Review – The Old City OST

Written By Casey Douglass

This 15 track soundtrack by Atrium Carceri was composed for the Narrative Philosophical game The Old City. Soothing string like atmospheres, distorted drones and brooding atmospheres carry the listeners throughout the album.

I always felt that many of Atrium Carceri’s tracks depicted what it might be like to wander through a strange city. Now, in the guise of The Old City OST, that impression has become concrete as it is the soundtrack for a game which features just such a city. Sadly, I have yet to play the game, but this soundtrack has been on my permanent rotation for a good few weeks now.

The album starts with “Intro / Menu” which is one of my favourite tracks. Distorted piano is backed by a soft drone. Haunting vocals really evoke such a feeling of melancholy that even re-listening to it while I type this has made my eyes prickle. Other emotive tracks are “Childhood I” and “Childhood II”, compositions that make great use of notes that mimic a slow music box, some notes lagging behind the others slightly, others in perfect harmony, with some quite epic vocals intoning around them in “Childhood II”.

Not all of the tracks are melancholy or so emotive however. Some sound more primal, like a force of nature. The 10+ minute track “Leviathan” is a rumbling string-infused piece that certainly hints at something large and unseen, yet possibly not hostile. The brief track “Underground” echoes with a thrumming movement and is a more jarring soundscape.

Other tracks create great rhythms that lace the gloomy backgrounds with melodies that get stuck in your mind. “Journey Home” is a great example of this, featuring a great 3-note hook that the rest of the soundscape can easily hang from.

There are no tracks that I disliked, they all have their own charm and unique take on the audio theme of the album. Some are longer, more subtle journeys, others are short interludes of grief or nostalgia, like the sun breaking through a sky scarred by the clouds of a nuclear winter. This is an album of murk that has a tenderness to it brought through by the clever use of piano and vocals. I can only hope that Atrium Carceri does more soundtrack work as this is a fantastic album for any dark ambient fan’s collection. With this in mind, I give The Old City OST 4.5/5 and heartily recommend it!

Visit The Old City OST Bandcamp page here for more info.

I was given a free copy of the album to review.

Album Title: The Old City OST
Artist: Atrium Carceri
Label: Cryo Chamber
Written, Produced and Mastered by: Simon Heath
Released : 3rd March 2015

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Dark Film Review - Locke

I review Locke on Amongst Geeks, a film about one man in a car that soon becomes all too crowded. Click here to read the full review.

Image © Copyright Lionsgate

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Dark Game Review - I Am Bread

I review quirky PC game I Am Bread over on Amongst Geeks. A fun and frustrating game but one that you can't help going back to again and again. Click here for the full review.

Image © Copyright Bossa Studios

Dark Fiction - Quantum Agitation

Quantum Agitation

By Casey Douglass

Lunfar crackled and fizzed as the stray transition particles jumped from his negatively charged body to the positive conference room around him. He blinked.
Singed bodies littered the large wood conference table, their limbs shrunken, the tang of fried blood cloying and enveloping the room in a shroud.
Lunfar looked down at the distorter gun in his hand. The nub on the end glowed red.
‘Status report Lunfar,’ a voice crackled in his ear piece.
‘Assignment completed.’
‘Full awareness?’
‘Negative. After event appraisal only.’
‘Confirmed. Return when your translocater has charged.’
Lunfar heard the link click into silence. A small melody chimed in his other ear. The translocater was ready. He looked at the scene around him and sighed. You got one like this about three times in ten. They always disappointed him the most. Not that he was a fan of killing. Quants like him kept the timeline clean and running on a better course for the Society. He didn’t fully understand the science but knew that they harnessed quantum events to burrow through time and space. The trouble with this is that every now and then, your body arrives a few seconds ahead of your full mental faculties. This isn’t that dangerous to a trained unit, but it still often left the Quant standing bemused surrounded by a ‘job well done’ with no memory of doing it. He sniffed.
He twisted his head to the right and craned his neck to the right until it cracked. The melody sounded again and he blipped out of existence.


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Sunday 12 April 2015

Dark Game Review - In Verbis Virtus

I review the voice-recognition driven PC puzzle game In Verbis Virtus over on Amongst Geeks here. A good game but one in which the main control scheme caused me a good deal of headache.

Image © Copyright Indomitus Games 

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Dark Game Review - Monstrum

I take a look at Team Junkfish's PC survival horror game Monstrum over on Amongst Geeks. A fantastic, creepy and nerve-jangling game. You can read my review here.

Image © Copyright Team Junkfish

Monday 6 April 2015

Dark Music Review – I Put A Time Bomb In Your Submarine

Dark Music Review – I Put A Time Bomb In Your Submarine

Written by Casey Douglass

It’s always nice when I get pointed in the direction of a style of music that is unfamiliar to me. I don’t like my music tastes to stagnate, but on the other hand, it makes putting my feelings into words that much harder, not to mention stretching my music knowledge as I try to identify how something was done. Bearsuit Records’ I Put A Time Bomb In Your Submarine is an album that falls firmly into this category, my only known point of entry my previous experience of one of the artist’s previous work (Utu Lautturi’s excellent album Nielu).

I Put A Time Bomb In Your Submarine is a compilation of remixes from various artists that could easily fall into any number of genre labels, from experimental and electronic to pop and rock. There are commonalities though. Many of the tracks feature airy vocals and short, sharp sound samples that give the sensation of listening to sound snippets masterfully stitched together to give the tracks a certain feeling of rhythm and flow (Circus Juice is one track that comes to mind for this). Many tracks make great use of ambient sound samples too, which adds another pleasing layer to things. The tracks that do feature vocals do so in a pop-like, hook-laden way that finds the words worming their way into your mind.

This will be another album review in which I don’t analyse each track, partly due to 22 being too many to make this feasible. There were a couple of stand-out tracks that I really liked though.

The first is Doll, and is track one on the album (or Anata Wa Sukkari Tsukarete Shimai - Doll (Senji Niban Remix) to give it it’s full label). The distorted, radio-like vocals and la-la-la-la-la-la mixed with the infectious beat make this an ear-worming track if ever I’ve heard one.

The next one that I really liked the feel of was A Shout Away (Harold Nono/Hidekazu Wakabayashi - A Shout Away (Stricknice Remix)). I think the mixture of relaxed piano, variety of vocals and the sound samples used all make this a pleasing track to listen to, with plenty for the mind to focus on amongst the many layers. The beat is good too!

The other track I wanted to mention by name is Circus Juice (Whizz Kid - Circus Juice (0Point1 Remix)), which I already mentioned above. The sound snatches and instrument variety just make it a lovely and eccentric track to listen to and I really appreciate that in a track.

The tracks that I haven’t mentioned all have things to like about them too of course, but these three caught my ear.

As a whole, I Put A Time Bomb In Your Submarine is a great value proposition, and gives the listener a great range of music to listen to and enjoy. I’m not wholly sure it is quite my thing, so I am not going to award it a review score, but I enjoyed my time with it and think it is well worth checking out for any fan of the electronic remix type genres of music.

You can visit the I Put A Time Bomb In Your Submarine page on Bandcamp here.

I was given a free copy of the album to review.

Album Title: I Put A Time Bomb In Your Submarine
Artists: Various
Label: Bearsuit Records
Release Date: 6th December 2014

Saturday 4 April 2015

Dark Game Review - Infinifactory

I take a look at Zachtronics' PC game Infinifactory, a fiendishly addictive puzzle game. You can read my review on Amongst Geeks here.

Image © Copyright Zachtronics

Thursday 2 April 2015

Dark Game Review - Please, Don't Touch Anything

I review PC puzzle game Please, Don't Touch Anything over on Amongst Geeks here.

Image © Copyright Bulky Pix

Dark Book Review - The Art and Making of Penny Dreadful

Penny Dreadful is one of my favourite series, so when the chance to review The Art and Making of Penny Dreadful came up, I jumped on it. You can read the result on Geek Syndicate here.

Image © Copyright /Titan Books / SHOWTIME Networks Inc.