Monday 7 January 2019

Dark Ambient Review: Maal Niir

Dark Ambient Review: Maal Niir

Review by Casey Douglass

Maal Niir

Some dark ambient albums just seem to ooze threat, the soundscapes they contain seeping and glooping around the thoughts they create in the listener’s mind. Oestergaard’s Maal Niir is one such album, containing four tracks of lurking peril that drag the listener into the dark happenings of another reality. They also created a bit of a dark mental narrative for me as I was listening, which is something that I always enjoy.

Maal Niir gets things going, a track with a staticy rhythm and swells of dark tone. The interesting thing for me was that near the midpoint, the static sound became more akin to a flag flapping in the wind. Coupled with the other sounds, this conjured a mental impression of a crumbling city in a glowing fog, the only visible thing being a high tower with said flag fluttering in the breeze. I also felt that a massive leviathan shadow encircled the tower, a giant thing barely visible as a darker shade of fog. Gentle piano notes begin to sound nearer the end of the track, along with a squeaking grinding noise as the flag pole falls to the ground.

Next up is Niirbrôtn', a track that dragged me to a tunnel in the ground at the foot of the tower. The track begins quietly, with a breathing-like swelling of sound. A high tone occurs, like a bird call at distance, or it might be a scream. Then a crackling, like a boot stepping on a bone-strewn floor. A wave of static-distortion pulses along the tunnel at intervals, creating the impression of flickering red light bathing the walls before fading. This track, to me, was the entrance to hell, and I mentally walked straight in.

Rásiirat darkens things even more. The sounds at the start of Rásiirat begin like breathing, but soon turn into what could be a guttural demonic conversation or chant. A little later, a higher tone appears, the guttural demon words pausing around that point. The image this track created in my mind was that an angel (the high tone) might be dashing through hell for some reason, to give the poor souls there hope. The demon listens and then continues its chant, knowing that the intruder will soon be snuffed out by the watchers that guard the realm.

The final track is Kullméija', and I felt that this track contained the sound of the angel becoming trapped and having a long wait for the end to come. The opening music has a dark "om-like" quality, with juddering on-rushes of pressure. The soundscape caused me to think of the angel becoming caught in some kind of demonic fly-trap, stuck to glue-paper that melts the wings and scorches bone. A lonely track, one that ends with a quiet male-voiced monologue, speaking words that I couldn’t understand.

Maal Niir then, is a dark ambient album that I very much enjoyed. When an album causes my mind to create a narrative, and each track seems to progress that narrative, I often come away feeling quite the connection to it. Maal Niir did this, but I think that even if it hadn’t, I would have appreciated the darkness and bleakness it contains. The tracks have a pulsing quality, the low tones breaking against the mind like dark waves on a barren beach, each one helping the grimness to push into the brain that little bit more, but gently, calmly and patiently. If you like your dark ambient deep, dark and ominous, check out Maal Niir on Bandcamp here. You can also listen to the first track, Maal Niir, below:

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Maal Niir
Album Artist: Oestergaards
Released: 28 December 2018