Saturday 22 August 2015

Dark Music Review – Between The Horizon And The Abyss

Dark Music Review – Between The Horizon And The Abyss

Written By Casey Douglass 

Between The Horizon and The Abyss Cover art

Between the Horizon and the Abyss is remarkably polished and fluid. Within its realm, no seconds feel wasted, and every sound feels purposefully placed, even as it moves and flows in perpetual motion; strains of a distant angelic choirs fall beneath a complex array of arcing tones, liquidous, molten textures, & harrowing orchestral shimmer, with fervent masses of malevolent atmospherics billowing forth in glorious detail. While this technically falls under the banner of dark ambient, what Yen Pox has managed to create goes far beyond genre specifications and boundaries, crafting a new benchmark and adding a high water mark to an already stellar discography.

The part of the above album blurb that describes the perpetual motion and liquidous molten textures contained within Between The Horizon And The Abyss is a great description of the sound the listener can expect from Yen Pox' album. Most of the tracks feature this wall of sound that seems to at once hit the listener and at times wrap around them, giving an almost visceral heat-like feeling to the soundscapes contained within. This makes the yellowy steam of the album art a great fit too. If ever there was a soundtrack for the fiery orb of the sun rising over a black horizon, this album is it, in my humble opinion.

The Tracks:

The Awakening
A full drone with looming highlights of a higher sound that sounds a little like a flock of strange birds calling and whistling as they come nearer and circle overhead. A more mechanical expulsion joins, hinting at forces being brought to bear. Somewhere around the midpoint, the sound shifts a little, things falling a little quieter with a bassiness and deepening thrum that gives the listener the sensation of things lowering, or growing deeper. Other sounds undulate from left to right in the ear, pulsing and vibrating with an energy and rhythm that sees the track out.

White Of The Eye
What sounds like an expansive guitar-based drone begins this track, a lovely wall of noise that fills the ear. It grows and fades and grows and fades after awhile, distorting and tailing off as it swoops around the soundscape with other peripheral electronic sounds dancing around it. These sounds take on a choral aspect at times, more scream-like shrills at others. At around the half way point, string-based notes carry over the soundscape, their tone rich and strong like the rising sun over a desert plane. Towards the end, a lighter note plays around on top of the now more settled drone, the contrast between the two enjoyed before it fades into the noise once more.

Cold Summer Sun
A quiet start with a vibrating metallic sound against a drone that steadily grows in volume. A deeper bassy sound looms underneath adding a feeling of stark beauty to proceedings. Sounds that put me in mind of chittering insects and fluttering wings emerge, that along with the title, created the mental image for me of cold sunlight piercing the depths of a dark cave and disturbing the inhabitants. Maybe some rock slide opened a fresh shaft into the cave that the sun can now shine down through. Some of the later sounds and rumblings of this track hint at a larger and darker creature being disturbed too, something that might have been best left slumbering. Like the previous tracks, things change as the track progresses, things becoming a little quieter and a little more high pitched.

In Silent Fields
A vocal-type sound rises and falls against the backdrop of a digeridoo-like bass noise, other sounds joining that make it seem like a sun kissed landscape being roamed by strange creatures, their calls and shrieks represented by the different sounds that enter the ear. Harsher “crashes” sound at intervals adding an extra texture to the soundscape.

Grief Ritual
An almost alarm-like sound begins this track, deeper sounds and high screeches interspersed around it. The title and the sounds contained in the track put me in mind of someone alone in a foggy graveyard, spectral figures forming and dispersing around them, shouting and screaming before they become intangible once more. Things go quieter at the mid-point, like a breath held. A swarming maelstrom of whispers and tones swells. Whether this is the intervention of a more powerful being or not, who can tell, but it sounds nice.

Ashen Shroud
Vibrating metal and vocals alternate in a dance of sandpaper and falling dust. Things settle to an almost dripping atmosphere of ticks and abrasion, the voice rising and falling as the echoes recede into the distance.

Tomorrow In Ruins
A light drone that almost sounds wind-like is soon joined by other sounds, one that might actually be the wind. Sounds of strings and a deeper roaming drone expand the soundscape into something melancholy and grainy, a windswept post-apocalyptic city or landscape perhaps.

The Procession
A buzzing bee-like drone, or maybe like a car at a steady speed, starts this track. Distorted words insinuate themselves over the sharper sounds that knife their way through the drone, a conversation the listener is not meant to hear. Near the midpoint a very deep bass rhythm pulses and the other sounds take on more of a laboured exhalation, like a big pair of lungs shuddering and squeezing out a quantity of insects with each breath.


I found Between The Horizon And The Abyss quite difficult to analyse. Whether this is due to fatigue or just the way the sounds mingle I am not sure but I did enjoy listening to it. Each track has a good texture to it, layers of sound giving the mind of the listener plenty to focus on and use as it possibly daydreams or roams free. As I said in the introduction, I felt like every track seemed sun-kissed, even though some of the sounds sounded more of the abyss than the firmament. That being said, mentally looking back over the album, which I listened to a number of times, I find it hard to pick a track that stood out from the others for any particular praise or criticism.

I give Between The Horizon And The Abyss 3.5/5. It achieves a lot with the textures it works with but I think I need more in the way of focal point sounds in my dark ambient music rather than walls of sound. Of course, this means it is more my own personal taste rather than any real issues with the music. Someone else will more than likely rate it higher because it ticks the right boxes for them. I still recommend any dark ambient fan checks out Between The Horizon And The Abyss though, it just didn't resonate with me as much as it might have.

Visit the Bandcamp page for Between The Horizon and The Abyss here for more information and the ability to have a listen.

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

Album Title: Between The Horizon And The Abyss
Album Artist: Yen Pox
Label: Malignant Records
Release Date: 05 May 2015