Saturday 12 December 2020

Dark Ambient Review: Nocturn

Dark Ambient Review: Nocturn

Review by Casey Douglass

Nocturn Album Art
Nocturn Album Art

When I sat down to write this review of Kehseverin’s dark ambient album Nocturn, I found that my understanding of the word “Nocturn” was partly wrong. I thought it was another way of referring to the night, and it is, but it seems to have its roots in some Christian rites that had to be observed at night as well. I guess I’ve learned my thing for the day. Nocturn is an album that takes the nocturnal hours as its muse, featuring low, dark-in-feeling soundscapes and melodies that blanket the listener, much as night might blanket the view through your window.

Amongst is one of my favourite tracks. It opens with an airy drone, one with a kind of grinding quality behind it. A shimmering tone builds, sending reverberating judders through the soundscape. This track caused my imagination to conjure up a dark forest glade with a strange, ancient stone archway inside, fairy-lights crackling around and through it. The track becomes more mellow and gentle as it approaches its midpoint, maybe hinting that the listener has passed through the portal. An ominous rumbling begins a short time later, joined by gentle pops and crackles in the ear, and later, some wind. Maybe the portal doesn’t point to anywhere nice...

Another track that I enjoyed was Upon A Hill. This track opens with gusts of wind and a gentle puttering sound, like a very unhealthy heart-beat. There are grainy clicks, swirls of movement, and a roaming electronic tone that throbs in the air. I felt that this track had a general feeling of malice about it, and daydreamed a lone figure on a hilltop, watching across a valley. When the Moon comes out, the figure is gone, but their shadow is still in place on the ground. It’s a furtive, looming feeling.

Eclipsed is another track that I felt contained its fair share of malice. It begins with an uneasy metallic drone, a little like a steam engine hissing and grinding to life. Rather than steam however, this one might just be ejecting spumes of ectoplasm and dust. Big tones hold long notes, the sound underneath sometimes feeling like it takes on a chittering, rotating aspect. The second half of the track deepens into an ominous space, the sound a little like a dark sacral chant. I’m not sure what is being eclipsed, and by what, but it sounds nice and brooding.

Nocturn is an album in which some of the tracks feature more melody than others. For me and my own dark ambient taste, I think I gravitated more to the ominous, droning spaces in the tracks above, and to the ones with very slow melodies, but I did enjoy the more musical tracks too. All of the tracks shared the same kind of midnight murk and muted peace, the furtive silence of the night rubbing up against uneasy shadows and encroaching dreams. If you like your dark ambient low-toned and dark, but that livens up with some faster melodies at times, you should check out Nocturn.

Visit the Nocturn page on Bandcamp for more information.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Nocturn

Album Artist: Kehseverin

Label: VoidSoundLTD

Released: 02 Dec 2020