Thursday 26 November 2020

Dark Ambient Review: Kosmobushir

Dark Ambient Review: Kosmobushir

Review by Casey Douglass


If I could, I’d love to visit some of the dark, sci-fi universes seen in fiction. There is something soothing about bleak distance, from the comfort of your own armchair anyway. As I can’t go into space, dark ambient albums like Kosmobushir are the audio vehicle to carry my imagination there, and I’m so glad that they exist. Kosmobushir is a dark space ambient album from Anihila, which in turn, comes from the mind of Flowers for Bodysnatchers’ Duncan Ritchie.

The album description paints the picture of the Soviet Union beating the U.S in the space race, and by the year 2158, being the power exploring the fringes of the solar system. Many Soviet citizens live out on the various planets and their satellites, with others pushing further out all of the time. One such ship, Akademgorodok, went missing near Neptune, and 14 years later, a strange transmission is received hinting at what it might have found.

Kosmobushir includes a lot of the things I hope for with a dark space ambient album. I want to feel like I’m on a spaceship, drifting in the darkness, hearing the metal creak and groan, seeing strange sights, and feeling like I’m somehow alone, but not alone. I found all of this on Kosmobushir, a prime example being the track Further Aft. Dripping echoes along metal corridors, a fuzz or static seems to permeate the air, and a strange yowling sound gives everything a creepy tint. This track is full of straining metal and cascading rumbles, making me feel like I was exploring a doomed spaceship, but one with a story to tell.

Alongside the metallic groaning and shuddering, Kosmobushir also makes great use of the whine and sweep of radio signals. The very first track, Neptune, opens with a “shrill, whistle-like scanning sound” (from my notes), with other sounds around it seeming to take on the aspect of half alarm siren, half swarm. The knocking and deep vibrations that come later really created the mental picture of approaching Neptune on a space ship that has to fight against itself to slow down, possibly because its sensors have just seen something very strange out there.

I think the most captivating track for me was the final one, Far Beyond The Reach. It makes great use of changes in direction, the soundscape morphing at different stages. I can only say that it made me wonder if this was what it might sound like to enter a black hole and to return again: the feeling of death and doom as the ship sinks in, finding yourself in a strange place that seems at odds with what you expected, and then being spat out somewhere else, back in our universe. Maybe I’ve watched Interstellar too many times. No, I don’t think that’s possible.

Kosmobushir is a fun journey into the bleak mystery of a doomed spaceship. If you find the idea of being in space riveting, even with all of the peril and strangeness that it might entail, this album might be a great one for you. Not only does it give you ominous creaking and hissing soundscapes to relax to, but it also frames them with an alternative history-fuelled future, and a conundrum, to boot!

Visit the Kosmobushir page on Bandcamp for more information.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Kosmobushir

Album Artist: Anihila

Released: 31 Aug 2020