Thursday 5 November 2020

Dark Ambient Review: Werifesteria

Dark Ambient Review: Werifesteria

Review by Casey Douglass


According to Urban Dictionary, Werifesteria is the word used to describe someone walking through a forest, on the hunt for mystery. French dark ambient artist Hiemal’s Werifesteria album, brings this notion to audio life. The album consists of three tracks. The first two clocking in at over 30 minutes each, the third lasting almost 20. Each offers the listener their own forest mystery experience, and each adds a slightly different feeling or texture to that experience.

The first track opens with the sound of a strong wind rustling the forest canopy. A mid to high pitched drone begins, nestling comfortably among the field-recorded sounds of the elements. The drone is both mercurial and stable, simple yet complex, depending on how you listen to it. The best analogy I can think of is how visible light is made up from all of the colours of the rainbow, and you can only see the individual colours when it passes through a prism. I felt that the drone on Werifesteria sets the listener’s mind as the prism, and the drone as the light. If you listen for the lower tones, you hear more of them. If you set your ears to the higher end of things, you’ll hear things too. Other tones do emerge but they are matched so well to the drone that they almost appear to sneak in.

The drone also changes over time, but it proves decidedly slippery to notice. I’ve listened to Werifesteria a decent amount of times, and the number of occasions that I’ve settled back and told myself “Pay attention to when the drone changes!” and I’ve just not managed to. If you click through the tracks it’s very noticeable, but in real time, it might take quite some time to think “Hey, has this changed?” I really like this element of the album. The drone itself is a great thought magnet too, sucking everything in. I once tried to meditate by holding a continuous “Aum” sound in my mind’s ears. It left me feeling quite strange, and the drone on Werifesteria seems to tap into this same feeling. There is something about a sound that just goes on and on and on...

The first two tracks of Werifesteria feel quite similar. In the first, the field-recordings feel more wind-based, in the second, more water-based. Both share the same kind of mind-focussing drone, with slight variations, although I felt the drone in the second track seemed a little less bold. The third track opens with the crackling of a fire and the sound of night insects chirruping. The drone/tones on this track seem like a continuous string-note floating in the air. There is also an ominous hollow feeling to some of the bassier sounds, maybe hinting at darker things roaming the shadows behind the fire light. I enjoyed this feeling.

One of the key qualities that I enjoy in a dark ambient album is if it is conducive to nodding off to sleep while you listen to it. Werifesteria has this quality for me, and then some. The evolving nature of the drone and the soundscapes means that I didn’t really notice many moments that were harsh enough to break the spell it casts on the listener. If anything, the only times I seemed to wake up were when a track was fading out. Maybe my mind missed the drone and began to wonder where it had gone. The field-recorded forest sounds and droning tones make this a lovely album to listen to, and a great escape from the mundane, into the mysterious.

Visit the Werifesteria page on Bandcamp for more information. It’s currently “Name Your Price” so it’s a great time to check it out.

Album Title: Werifesteria

Album Artist: Hiemal

Released: 25 Oct 2020