Tuesday 20 March 2018

Dark Music Review – Miles to Midnight

Dark Music Review – Miles to Midnight

Review Written By Casey Douglass

Miles to Midnight

Miles to Midnight is a Dark Jazz Ambient album with a Lynchian Noir feel: A hotel trapped between two worlds and a detective with a traumatized past. God Body Disconnect's live jazz drums and cinematic wall-of-sound builds the foundation of the mysterious hotel. Cities Last Broadcast brings ghostly tape loops and melodies stuck in time. Atrium Carceri dusts off his old pianos and shatters reality with low bass rumbles and brings you into the other side of the hotel. For lovers of smokey soundtracks to unwritten movies.

The first line of the description above does an excellent job of summing up Miles to Midnight’s tone and aesthetic. I’m not a big fan of jazz, but I do like me some weird. Miles to Midnight is an album that creates images of long, art-deco styled corridors, with green lampshades and brass figurines holding them. It almost causes you to taste the dust in the ruby red carpet that has lost its lustre, and it brings about an unnerving feeling that the shadows in the corners of the room are, somehow, a little darker than they have any right to be.

The jazz drum element is a tremendous fit for the dark imagery the soundscapes create, its relaxed rhythm and brushed beats nestling very comfortably amongst the more eerie vocal effects and bassy rumbles. A Thousand Empty Rooms is a prime example of this. After a delicate start of a few plucked notes hanging in the soundscape, a slow beat begins, joined by piano notes that seem to fill out the high spaces in the composition. When they tinkle into the rafters, a birdsong like flurry joins them, creating a quirky space that seems to have a life of its own. For me, this track brought to mind the image of an extravagant chandelier hanging in an empty room, a sole candle flickering nearby, its flame reflecting in the chandelier’s myriad crystals. Relaxing and a little melancholy.

A few of the tracks are like this, but others are more threatening or strange. The Other Lobby is a prime example of this. It begins with the sound of voices and some kind of bustling activity. There are dings, and the impression of muzak, before undulating electro-bee vocals and a strange alarm like sound create a further feeling of whimsy. The track brought to mind someone watching an old episode of The Outer Limits on a black and white bunny-ear bearing TV, the soundtrack of the show crackling its way into the room just behind the lightness and darkness of the images on the screen. Or, looked at another way, it felt like finding the Museum of Curiosities at the fun fair when you were just looking for the toilet.

Yet other tracks are more threatening, such as Sorry Sir, You Are In The Wrong Room. A deep, bassy space full of rumbling, crackling, darting notes and muted piano. It creates a hanging atmosphere of menace. If The Other Lobby was mistakenly finding your way into the Museum of Curiosities, this track was more like stumbling into a room containing shadowy people planning their next crime.

Miles to Midnight is an incredible slice of dark music, its rhythms and soundscapes lulling and threatening, heavy and yet sometimes light at the same time. I know from the description that it is based on a strange noir hotel, but I also got the impression that it could be an excellent depiction of an insomniac getting through the night. The isolated and spectral locations just seemed to create that general feeling of being alone, which could be transposed into any number of settings. If any of what I’ve said intrigues you, check out Miles to Midnight via the stuff below, and if you do buy it, pop it on just as the last light of the sun vanishes over the horizon one evening.

Visit the Miles toMidnight page on Bandcamp here for more information, and be sure to check out A Thousand Empty Rooms below:

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

Album Title: Miles to Midnight
Artists: Atrium Carceri, Cities Last Broadcast, God Body Disconnect
Label: Cryo Chamber
Released: Jan 09, 2018