Tuesday 3 November 2020

Dark Ambient Review: Seclusion

Dark Ambient Review: Seclusion

Review by Casey Douglass


Being alone doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In the current Covid times, getting away from crowds of people has its own soothing effect, and that’s just crowds of normal people who do their best to social distance. I won’t mention the #covidiots that the click-baiting media love to put on display to get everyone riled up. Seclusion is a dark ambient album from Dark Fields, and its deserted soundscapes and barren ruins might be just the thing to escape into, when humanity is really doing your head in.

The album description paints the picture of an extinct humanity. To be fair, it doesn’t specify humanity. It could be about an alien race on an entirely different planet, but to my mind, the clues point to humans having wiped themselves out, probably by an idiot taking a selfie too close to a button that says “Do not press!” Whatever happened, the landscape is now one of perpetual fog, snow and ruin, all framed by a nice murky sky. The final line of the album description says: “An infinite dark calmness. It is SECLUSION, the beauty of Loneliness.” I wouldn’t mind walking through that landscape, and listening to this album is probably the next best thing.

As you might imagine, Seclusion makes use of sounds that convey the aspects that you might associate with such a landscape. I often heard the bleak rushing of the wind, hollow tones and gentle plucks and pops. Low drones rumble and high, sparkling tones dance in the sky. I often felt that I was listening to the equivalent of snow falling from pregnant black clouds, the grey flakes battling with the perma-fog in the mind’s eye. The track: Snowflakes brought this out for me the strongest, but it felt like an ever present flavour to most of the other tracks too.

Nails stood out to me for its “lowness.” Wind and a bassy rumbling deepen into something that just feels like it gets deeper and deeper. There are higher tones and vibrations, but the star of this track is the maelstrom that feels like it’s happening just outside the window. It deepens in pulses, like the rhythm of the sea when an extra big wave comes in. I even wrote in my notes that I felt the track kind of “dragged me down”, which I don’t think I’ve written about anything else before. I don’t mean in mood either, just a force that wants to crush me. A great track.

Dust is another track that I wanted to describe. It starts with a saw-like whirring. Metallic and swarm-like. There is a high tone that emerges a short time in, one that takes on a screaming-type of aspect, at least for me. This track conjured up the feeling of ash being blown around, ash from burned bodies and open graves that have cooked in some intense inferno. Near the end, the sound of what seems to be gas-mask breathing begins, finishing off the post-apocalyptic aesthetic nicely. So maybe there are some survivors after all. Or maybe the listener is the gas-mask wearer...

Seclusion, for me, is the ideal Winter listening album. When the long, grey days begin to become tiresome, when the sun begins to feel like a myth, Seclusion is the soundtrack for just that kind of day. If you find yourself in any kind of Covid restriction or lock-down, Seclusion will doubly stand in for the sentiments that the situation might create in you too. Maybe you could even listen to it at the supermarket, particularly when you see that the toilet paper is all gone and you find yourself thinking some distinctly uncharitable thoughts about the human race. Whatever the occasion, if you like bleak, post-apocalyptic dark ambient soundscapes, you might want to check out Seclusion.

Visit the Seclusion page on Bandcamp for more information. You can also click around and sample the full album on the Dark Fields’ YouTube video below:

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Seclusion

Album Artist: Dark Fields

Released: 17 June 2019