Thursday 3 January 2019

Dark Ambient Review: Primal Destination

Dark Ambient Review: Primal Destination

Review by Casey Douglass

Primal Destination

If you walk into a travel agent and ask for a primal destination, you’ll probably get a baffled look and end up with a ticket to somewhere with no toilet. In an ideal world, you would get a brilliant smile and a ticket to an untamed planet somewhere far far away. Sadly, this world is far from ideal, but just such a planet is envisioned in Dead Melodies’ dark ambient album Primal Destination.

The listener takes on the role of planetary explorer as the various soundscapes Primal Destination contains unfold around you. There are technological sounds such as static and electronic tones. There are also field-recordings of nature, from the quiet dripping of water to bird and animal calls that are twisted into something unusual and unfamiliar. Both of these elements meet to conjure the ‘feel’ of the album, which for me, was a chilled feeling of wandering among strange vistas.

I think my favourite track is Subterraformed, a track that kind of channelled a feeling of Lovecraft to me. It begins with dripping water echoing in what seems to be an underground cavern. The bubbling water that joins this a little later hints at the idea of a vast lake stretching into the distance. Add in the distant drone and pulses of ominous bass tone, and my mind was set to thinking about the entrance to the abyss hidden deep under the Mountains of Madness.

Another track that I really enjoyed was Pearlescent Dawn. Beginning with sweeping birdsong and snatches of wind, the track creates a breathing landscape, one with buzzing insect-like sounds and a mechanical feel. For me, the “pearlescent” in the title made me bring to mind the shimmering rainbow colours on the surface of an oil puddle, so I kind of viewed this as a scrapyard of alien technology. Actually, the previous track, Somatic Mutation made me think of a robot graveyard, so the technological feel of these tracks was clearly quite strong for me.

Glades is also an intriguing track, containing a soundscape tinged with swampy glugs and wind-swept threat. The strange animal/bird calls feature here too, some of them even sound a little like the howling of a wolf, but distorted into something a little different. There are wading sounds a little later, and while this probably was meant to suggest explorers pushing through, I had visions of a strange cluster of creatures holding lanterns and walking through the mist in a sombre procession. Both ways of viewing it are equally fun though.

Primal Destination is just what its title suggests, an album containing raw and alien soundscapes that takes the listener’s mind on a smooth, calm journey through unknown valleys and caverns. The interplay of technology and alien creatures adds a lovely amount of novelty to things, and the soundscapes can all be enjoyed at an unhurried pace. If you are a fan of sci-fi-based dark ambient / space ambient, you should take a look at Primal Destination’s Bandcamp page here.

Check out Pearlescent Dawn below:

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Primal Destination
Artist: Dead Melodies
Label: Cryo Chamber
Released: 1 Jan 2019