Tuesday 15 September 2020

Dark Ambient Review: MNZKRT

Dark Ambient Review: MNZKRT

Review by Casey Douglass


I like machines. I also like the sounds that they make. There is an airport a couple of miles from my house, and it’s just far enough away that the idling jet engines often seem to take on the aspect of Tibetan chanting. I quite enjoy this. When MNZKRT fell into my inbox, I had a little listen, and I was again reminded why I like industrial sounds.

MNZKRT is inspired by the harsher things in life. The album art would probably tip you off to that fact. Bleak field-recordings and mournful sounds of desolation populate its soundscapes, with mechanical and electronic whirrings and beeps ratcheting up a kind of post-apocalyptic atmosphere. The images that came to my mind when I was listening, mainly consisted of a depopulated Earth, maybe a decade after some kind of advanced robotic alien race decided to stop by and steal our water.

Some of the tracks appear to feature snatches of radio or TV voices, which only adds to this sense of things changing. Maybe there is still a resistance somewhere, maybe some lone TV station is still running against all odds. Maybe the aliens are using the signals as bait to lure foolish people from their hiding places. Sorry, I’m getting a bit carried away with all this.

The track titles of MNZKRT are enigmatic sequences of numbers, such as the opening track: 1.14 0.97 90. Another alien trap I hear you ask? Or maybe that’s just me getting carried away again. They do correlate to something, they aren’t just random. You’ll have to use your own Google-fu to find out though. While I like it when a dark ambient album’s track titles help frame your sense of what a track is about, I also equally like this style, where you go into a track with no real hint of the tone, mood or design behind it.

I think my favourite track is track four: 4.48 4.12 81. It opens with a snippet of hissing static, and turns into a slow building throbbing soundscape of crackles, scraping echoes and a strange repeating impact-like sound. This sound put me in mind of, for some reason, a digital anvil being struck by a virtual blacksmith. There is just something about the quality of the sound, the way it rings out. This track, for me, was our new alien overloads slipping us into some kind of virtual reality, to make us more manageable.

Another track I want to mention is track three: 3.51 2.81 90, as it features some lovely thunder field-recordings interplaying with undulating bass tones and some distorted radio-style voices. It’s a nice brooding track. The last track, 11.70 10.90 90 is another one that features a similar mood. The lapping of waves and the roiling high tones are met with a feeling of winged things buzzing over head. There are echoing crackles and impacts, distorted wooden notes... It felt like another desolate space, but the water and rain near the end at least hints that nature is still surviving, with or without us.

MNZKRT is a smooth dark ambient listen. The soundscapes are not rammed full of complicated sounds, and this simplicity makes it easy to really focus on the sounds that are there. If you’ve ever found the whirring of a fan lulling or the hiss of a radio relaxing, you might like the various beeps, throbs and buzzing contained on this album. You might even start to turn into the meme of the guy on the Discovery channel who thinks everything is aliens! Who knows?

The aliens, that’s who!

Visit the MNZKRT page on Bandcamp for more information.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: MNZKRT

Album Artist: MNZKRT

Released: 11 September, 2020