Thursday 24 September 2020

Dark Ambient Review: Storm-Maker Red Horse

Dark Ambient Review: Storm-Maker Red Horse

Review by Casey Douglass

Storm-Maker Red Horse

The forces of nature are a rich vein of inspiration for many an artist. Even when we think we understand the intricacies of the gargantuan powers involved, there are always exceptions that sidle up to us and deliver a swift kick to the groin. Mombi Yuleman’s Storm-Maker Red Horse is a dark ambient album focussing on a terrific supercell storm and tornado. In theme, the album straddles the modern world and the superstitions of tribal deities. It makes for quite a mixture!

Each of Storm-Maker Red Horse’s five tracks gives a nice build up of the storm brewing, the field-recorded wind, rain and thunder creating expansive soundscapes that the drones, beats and vocals sit well inside. There are moments of respite too, most noticeably at the beginning and end of each track, where things settle for just awhile as the elements muster their energy for another crack at destruction. In the next couple of paragraphs I'll give a very rough skim over each track, mainly so I can talk about what stood out for me, and the elements that I really enjoyed.

Track one opens with an ominous rumbling and the electronic tones of a warning system. Then comes thunder and the insect hiss of a twilight scene framed by a darkening sky. When the storm reaches a certain level, a humming-like sighing booms, but at distance. Maybe this is the creature creating the storm. This is a perfect illustration of the modern giving way to the esoteric; the storm warning alarms being superseded by the sound of a god throwing its weight around. Howling wind and airy vocals lend the scene a delicate brutality, for all the rumbling thunder and Godzilla-like bassy footfalls. The second track begins with wind, rain and birdsong. The storm is still brewing, but it seems to be in the distance. It doesn’t take long for the scene to build into a cacophony of bird-like screams and guttural speech. Around the midpoint, an infectious fast-paced beat and chant begins, a soundtrack to the leaves and debris swirling in the maelstrom.

The third track opens with the sound of rain against glass panes and the rumbling of the storm overhead. It later takes on a deep-breathing aesthetic, with the gritty wind, and a different kind of beat, lending a nice kinetic feeling to the soundscape. Track four opens with what sounds like the squeaking of a gate or a windmill. Metallic distress and increasing winds are punctuated by a stab of lightning. An epic beat begins, accompanied by a punchy vocal “huh-like” sound. Think of the kind of music you’d hear if you were watching Jason and the Argonauts sailing into a tempest. The second half of the track turns into a howling, scream-infused drone, like the steam building in a massive kettle. The last track returns to the modern again, a siren-like tone almost doing battle against the heaving, sighing storm. Sounds of modern life encroach as the track goes on, hints of voices, rattling machinery, and a church-bell like resonance. Near the end, a very definite warning siren sounds, with emergency vehicle tones, exploding glass and destruction ringing around the listener's ears.

Storm-Maker Red Horse is an awe-inspiring album. It captures the majesty of the elements and the destructive power of a massive storm, and weaves in a lovely dose of supernatural forces to give things an even more tasty twist. A regular storm is nice to listen to, a supercell tornado is scary, but one fuelled by some ethereal being... even better in my book! If you enjoy dark ambient with a healthy amount of field-recordings, drone and a mythic mystique, you should really check out Storm-Maker Red Horse.

Visit the Storm-Maker Red Horse page on Bandcamp for more information. You might also notice that I helped out with an edit of the synopsis. I did this freely to practice my writing. Doing said writing didn’t affect my review; I already very much liked this album.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Storm-Maker Red Horse

Album Artist: Mombi Yuleman

Released: 18 September, 2020