Friday 29 September 2017

Dark Music Review – The Faceless One

Dark Music Review – The Faceless One

Review by Casey Douglass

The Faceless One is the second part of Ruairi O'Baoighill’s Rueayn Trilogy. I reviewed the first album, Walpurgis, a few weeks ago, and found it to be an occult-infused dose of dark goodness. The Faceless One, takes that mantle and runs with it further down the lane, dishing up another six tracks in a similar vein, along with a couple of bonus tracks thrown in for good measure.

Each track contained on The Faceless One sets the scene for some kind of ritual, whether of conjuration or devotion, and sets the focal sounds in soundscapes that seem to be scraping the edge of hell or purgatory. The first track, Invocation, begins with a maelstrom of buffeting wind-like sound, and it doesn’t take long for the air currents to bring blood curdling screams to the listener's ear, bringing to mind an etheric tornado holding the souls unlucky enough to be inside it captive. The words of the titular invocation begin around the midpoint, but whether the rite is aimed at one soul in particular or the thing that controls the tornado, I don’t know.

Track two, Veil, begins with a single drum beat that rhythmically echoes as it fades. It sounds again, and fades again. An up swell of sound follows, a reaction maybe from whatever is circling nearby, like baiting the sea with chum and seeing a distant fin move closer. That’s quite a good analogy I think, as the sound, besides the hint of whispered voice, sounds a little murky and muffled, a little like being underwater. There are other tones, and the odd chime sounding, that balance the darkness a little, but this felt like a probing, stretching track, the audio equivalent of a face pushing out through a rubbery wall.

Incantation is next, a track that starts with the vigorous sound of some kind of horn. It sounds a number of times before a host of echoing, sacral chanting begins. The tone of the voice rises and falls, seeming to reflect back from unseen corners and strangle angles. There is a hissing sound, snake-like, and a rumbling that creaks around the soundscape. The other stand out sound to me is what sounds like someone breathing, particularly in those moments when the rest of the soundscape falls quieter, a watcher waiting to see the outcome of their actions maybe.

Procession is track four, a funereal soundscape with the sonorous sound of a church bell tolling for who knows who. There is a scratchy string-agitating sound and the occasional gong/cymbal being crashed. The track certainly brings to mind what it might be like to see a host of dark-robed figures wandering deserted streets, the smoke from their censer’s vanishing into the darker shadows around them. It’s the longest track on the album, which further adds to the feeling of going from here to there.

Trancendence is the penultimate track, another gong/cymbal featuring composition, that, along with chanting, seems to feature the mewling of something trying to sing along with the singers. This track brought to mind an old cathedral, the rite happening down below, a strange and twisted thing up in the bell-tower mocking and mimicking the sounds it is hearing. This is one of my favourite tracks, purely for this pleasing idea.

Ritual is the final track, a soundscape that begins with a deep voice chanting, and slowly builds to what sounds like more joining. It sounds a little devotional, and later, the atmosphere of the track seems to react to them, a swarm-like malevolence builds, with thumps and angry energy.

The first of the two bonus tracks is Ceremony, another ‘windy’ drone-led type of track, again featuring a chant, but this one is reedy and hollow, the soundscape itself higher-toned and shimmering. It also features the same sensation created by Trancendence, the notion of something trying to sing along in the distance.

The second of the bonus tracks is Faceless One, a track with a swelling, booming soundscape, the tones and sounds creating a mirage-like shifting effect. It also features a deep guttural voice that sounds clipped and dialled down, suggesting that something is communicating from another realm. Scream-like sounds hang in the air, and the whole thing sounds like the Faceless One is coming to see you. Great stuff.

The Faceless One is another darker than pitch, dark ambient album, one steeped in the miasmic realm that seems to lean so close and yet so far from our every day one. Twisted cries and ritual elements all blend to bring into being something dark and wholly satisfying to enjoy, contemplative and aggressive in equal measure. If you’ve yet to listen to any of Ruairi O'Baoighill’s creations, I urge you to check them out, particularly if you like your dark ambient with occult themes.

Click here to go to The Faceless One on Bandcamp to have a listen and for more info. You might also like to read my review of Walpurgis here.

I was given a copy of this album for review purposes.

Album Title: The Faceless One
Album Artist: Ruairi O'Baoighill
Label: Cursed Monk Records
Released: July 11, 2017