Saturday 17 December 2016

Dark Music Review – Khmaoch

Dark Music Review – Khmaoch

Review Written By Casey Douglass

Khmaoch Cover Art

Exploring eastern esoteric traditions this will take you on a voyage through old civilization. The crackling sound of incense fills ancient ruins. A solitary flute by Ivan Ioanov leads you through dim lit passageways underneath. Deep drone summons forgotten spirits as lush noise of mother earth calms the soul. The contrast of dark and light on this album serves an enlightening experience.
ProtoU has already created, or had a hand in creating, two of my favourite dark ambient albums: Lost Here and Earth Songs. When I saw Khmaoch about to be released, I was hopeful of another album to add to that list, and largely speaking, that is what I found. The atmospheric field recordings of wind and water merge expertly with echoing soundscapes and various melodies, each track seeming to give the listener something new to listen to, or something familiar, in a new way.

Water seems to be a common thread between many of the tracks, whether squally and rainy, such as in opening track Bridge of Storms, or dripping and bubbling as it appears in Voices of the Water, a lot of flavour is brought by our aqueous elemental friend. Other elements are not overlooked however, wind being shown favour in the form of the above mentioned flute, which features in a number of the tracks, such as the excellent Stygian Vortex. Stygian Vortex is a composition that also includes lots of interesting scrunching scrapings, and a fun buzzing sound that put me very much in mind of an insect buzzing from ear to ear in a sun-bleached skull.

A particular favourite track of mine is Skar Mekh, a deep and brooding space filled with the sounds of furtive industry and an echoing beat. A low drone looms, mixing with voices and flute that for me, created a scene of preparation at some temple or other. Water flows, cries sound and, as the second half continues, there seems to be much bone scraping and the odd blood-curdling scream in the distance.

Khmaoch blends elemental forces with a deft touch, sprinkling in some catchy beats (such as in the track Pel), along with a healthy dose of darkness and light. The end result is a dark ambient album that wraps its arms around you in a strong embrace, but leaving you unsure whether it will drag you down into the ground, or raise you up into the heavens. I give it 4.5/5.

Visit the Khmaoch page on Bandcamp here for more information, and check out one of the tracks, Skar Mekh, below:

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

Album Title: Khmaoch
Artist: ProtoU
Label: Cryo Chamber
Releases: October 11, 2016