Monday 28 December 2020

Dark Ambient Review: Anthems Of Solitude

Dark Ambient Review: Anthems Of Solitude

Review by Casey Douglass

Anthems Of Solitude

When I am alone, unless I am practising some kind of mindfulness technique, my mind goes to other places. These tend to be fearful future ruminations, or more often than not, wandering through some kind of fantasy or mythical location, by way of book, film or just my own imagination. Phragments’ dark ambient album Anthems of Solitude is described as an exploration of the concept of solitude, and it’s a great audio companion to the feelings that might arise.

When listening to the first track: Hollow, my mind did its usual thing of constructing some imagery around the sounds and feelings created. Hollow opens with a distant drone and a sound similar to a radio momentarily picking up static. A ghostly “howl” type of tone begins, part wind blowing through small gaps, part desolate waste-ground gale. This latter impression is amplified by the metallic clattering and thumping that begin shortly after, along with a machine-type grinding. What came to mind listening to this track, was the notion of the top of a mineshaft, but one where it’s known that goblins live. A chant-like sound begins after awhile, which, for some reason, led me to think of a someone sitting at the top of the mineshaft, maybe trying to call the goblins from below... for company?

The next track is Consequence. Low tones swell in the darkness, things becoming darker and deeper still as the track progresses. A shimmering tone hangs in the air, and what could be distant cries or hissing sounds can be heard at the fringes. The soundscape feels like it gets a bit harsher after the midpoint of the track, with a howling type tone rounding things off. For me, this track might literally be the consequence that meets the person in the first track, the goblins answering their call and coming up to play, but not in a violent way, more a “blink, and they’ve vanished” kind of movement.

Frontiers of Hope opens with a “breathy” flowing drone. This is soon joined by a spectral melody that seems to float in the air. For some reason, the imagery brought to mind when I listened was a mist covered floor, the air currents occasionally revealing the bodies of dead unicorns. Maybe the higher tone is caused by some kind of fairy beings dancing over the dead creatures, crying their little hearts out. Or maybe I watched Legend too much as a kid. A horn-like blaring begins to sound and a shimmering, chittering quality seems to infuse the soundscape. Maybe what killed the unicorns is approaching, and it fancies some fairy desert?

The final track is called An Ode to Our Times, and for me, this rounded off the dreamlike qualities I described above. The main reason for this is due to one of the tones sounding a little like someone has dozed off with their mouth to some kind of wind instrument, blowing gently as they snore. There is a distant “steam train-like” whistle at one point, and at other moments, I half fancied I could hear a distant rumble that might just be traffic. This track had a “mist of memory” feeling to me, an awakening. The time-flickering as the age of steam leads to motor vehicles and to the modern day. I guess another way of saying this is that the soundscape seems to shimmer and flow with the audio equivalent of fantasy meeting reality, and if someone really has dozed off in an easy chair, are they waking up to anything better than where they’ve just been?

Anthems of Solitude is a dark ambient album that contains a calm darkness. I’m not surprised my mind did the thing it does and created the images and landscapes that it did. I can even see the symbolism or themes in the things that came up. I mean, a track title that mentions hope and me thinking about dead unicorns... Fun stuff though, and I say that sincerely, not flippantly. That’s why I love dark ambient music, horror and anything else that sends fluffy people running for the hills. Anthems of Solitude is a cracking album for the time of year too, and I only just realised that solitude and the Covid pandemic/lock-down cycle is another great fit. Go and check out Anthems of Solitude, it’s well worth your while.

Visit the Anthems Of Solitude page on Bandcamp for more information. You can also checkout the YouTube teaser video below:

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Anthems Of Solitude

Album Artist: Phragments

Label: Construct.Destroy.Collective (CDC)

Released: 20 Dec 2020