Thursday 9 July 2020

Dark Ambient Review: Graveyard Orbit

Dark Ambient Review: Graveyard Orbit

Review by Casey Douglass

Graveyard Orbit

I’ve been in a very sci-fi mood lately, so when a dark ambient album designed to evoke images of obsolete or damaged spacecraft slowly disintegrating in orbit, fell into my inbox, my interest was easily piqued. In Afnimaran’s Graveyard Orbit, each track is named after a starship or space-station, which I think is a great way to frame the music that each contains. As far as the tracks themselves, they feed the listener suitably sci-fi sounding beeps and radio-frequency fluctuations, but among the other tones and notes, are also ritual elements. When you hear an eerie chant break out in a remote soundscape, it certainly boosts the feelings of desolation and despair.

One of the tracks that I really enjoyed was Nostromo. It’s a dark and brooding track, but with a howling, trilling effect that comes and goes. There are also instances of echoing, plucked guitar notes, which boost the feelings of threat and remoteness nicely. For me, it was basically the dark ambient equivalent of what planet LV-426 sounds like in Alien. The track conjures up the murk, the wind and the threat until you can almost feel the seeping cold and sand-blasting fury of the planet. The second half of the track is more discordant, with a distorted, alarm-like blaring and some of that ritual chant that nearly always seems to carry some kind of impending doom.

Another track that I particularly enjoyed was BC-304. The main reason for this was that it carried the feel of an abandoned spaceship that might be slowly slipping into a black-hole. There is a sound that could well be the tones of the creaking superstructure of the ship, slowly being teased and pulled apart. There is also a whining, with whispers, chant and juddery strings that all create a lovely feeling of inevitability and resignation. I may be a freak, but the thought of being on an abandoned spaceship that is only hours away from destruction, with nothing to do or to be done... I find that a profoundly relaxing space to be in.

All of the tracks have their own flavour, from the more prominent chant elements in the latter ones, such as Solaris Station, to the ‘whistle-like’ tones in Enterprise-D. What unites them all is the feeling of isolation, obsolescence and looming destruction. Some of the soundscapes are relatively smooth, others become discordant or more jarring, which is also a nice touch. Spaceships, as people, all meet their end in their own special way. Where one might gently break apart, another might scream and strain until the very end. As you can tell, I enjoyed the concept of Graveyard Orbit, and it’s a concept that the album fulfills tremendously.

Visit Graveyard Orbit page on Bandcamp for more information.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Graveyard Orbit
Album Artist: Afnimaran
Label: Kalpamantra
Released: 20 June, 2020