Saturday, 2 March 2019

Dark Ambient Review: Faversham

Dark Ambient Review: Faversham

Review by Casey Douglass


Faversham


Faversham is a collaboration between musicians Mauri Edo and Leighton Arnold. The album was born from a lengthy improvisation session, and then duly shaped by long-distance conversations and edits into a 5 track collection of dark ambient sound. The result for the listener is an album of bitter-sweet spaces in which the moods of hope and threat seem to gently battle for supremacy.

Album Description: Faversham is a collection of dark soundscapes, sprinkled with hope at times. The result of mixing guitar passages, low-frequency drones, field recordings, bells and traditional Korean instruments. The tracks evoke a landscape of barren lands, abandoned factories, old forests and a thick fog that surrounds the everything.

As is often the way with my dark ambient listening, Faversham created a kind of narrative for me, one about a dark village nestling in the bosom of an isolated valley, each track progressing the story further. Opening track Watchtower’s bell-tolling and deep crackling throb seems to suggest the shadows cast by the setting sun, the smooth hilltops somehow casting jagged, long-nailed stabs of darkness across the village besieged by some unknown threat.

If the first track was the oncoming gloom, the next, Kapela Mira, is the defiance. It opens with a harsh shimmer and the sound of insects, but soon warms into gentle piano and guitar notes. There is an underlying pulsing bass sound, but the lighter tones and melody seemed to show the defiant occupants of the village singing to display that they won’t sit and cower in silence.

Currents is the third track, one that starts with a low vibration, a bit like a petrol-fuelled generator. A tinkling beat joins, and before long, crackling notes are plucked. Strings feel like they warp, and the deep pulsing that flows beneath everything oozes threat. For me, this track was the evil wandering the streets, looking for anyone foolish enough to be out and alone. I really enjoyed the crackles that accompanied the notes on this track, they almost hint at some kind of etheric trembling.

The scene shifted for me when I came to the penultimate track Forest Outpost. I let the title lead me here and found myself looking down towards the ink-stained village from a high place. A shimmering rhythm opens things, crackling its companion once more. Wolf-howl tones raise and breathe as dawn kisses the outpost, the lone occupant wondering if there is anyone left to go home to.

The final track is Tunnel, a harsher track that opens with an engine-like swell of activity. Muted crashing and tumbling sit behind it. Maybe this track is the occupant of the Forest Outpost making their way to the village by way of a hidden tunnel. All I know is that as the track continues, certain of the instruments, particularly the hyang piri, put me in mind of some of the tracks from the Hannibal TV series soundtrack. I’m not sure if they were the same instruments, but they had the same kind of feel, something dark and primal.

Faversham is a dark ambient album in which the layers of each soundscape seem to have a clean purity about them. I never felt that there were too many elements vying for my attention, and the ones that were there, such as the crackling or chiming, sat nicely in the soundscape, easy to enjoy and absorb. As you can probably guess from my review, I enjoyed the images that Faversham brought to my mind, and I also appreciated the changes in mood, from threat, to hope, and back again. If you like your dark ambient to seduce you with crackles and gentle notes, but to underlie this with unnerving bassy threat, Faversham might be the album for you.

Click here to go to the Faversham page on Bandcamp. You can also watch the teaser video below:


I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Faversham
Album Artist: Mauri Edo, Leighton Arnold
Label: Chemical Imbalance
Released: Jan 3, 2019

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