Tuesday 22 December 2020

Dark Ambient Review: X-Theory (Best of 2005-2020)

Dark Ambient Review: X-Theory (Best of 2005-2020)

Review by Casey Douglass

X-Theory (Best of 2005-2020)

Xerxes The Dark is a dark ambient project from Iranian artist Morego Dimmer. It was founded in 2005 and is imbued with the concepts of strange spaces, warping time frames, and darkness. X-Theory (Best of 2005-2020) is a collection of some of the output from Xerxes The Dark in that time frame, a compilation that stretches to four hours in duration. That’s a lovely, heady dose of darkness if you ask me.

In the last couple of years, I’ve reviewed a couple of Xerxes The Dark’s more recent releases: Tower of Silence and Final Crisis. In general, in my dark ambient reviews, I usually highlight at least three tracks that stood out for me as ones that I particularly enjoyed. X-Theory contains five tracks from these two albums. Before I began to write this review, while listening to X-Theory, I noted down the tracks that immediately appealed to me, and then realised upon checking that they were from these two albums. Above, I’ve linked to the reviews in which I covered the tracks at length. Below, I’ve looked at three of the tracks from the many on X-Theory that I’ve just heard for the first time.

Timetube Travel is the first I'll mention, as for me, it’s a track that could have easily come from Final Crisis, Xerxes’ end of the world, black hole-laced dystopian album. Timetube Travel opens with a really pleasing corrugated plastic tube-like sound, a bit like someone dragging said tube over a hard edge, or maybe like a really pissed off bumblebee flying around a hollow plastic thing. There is a bassy, deep quality beneath the sound, and it soon gives way to a metallic dragging and jostling. Near the end, the sounds change to a swelling, pulsing bass version of the plastic tube. The track seemed to convey the different stages of travelling down one of these worm-hole type tubes. If we ever discover or create real time tubes, and get to travel down them, I’d like to think that they might sound like this.

(Sur)Realization is a track originally from the album Xenophillis, and for me, is another great track that excels at making the listener feel like they are traversing some strange space. It begins with a deep drone that roams the soundscape like a moody animal, with little sparkles or tinkles of electronic tone jittering in the air above it. It’s a soundscape where the low and the high have an uneasy meeting in the middle, maybe the audio equivalent of an anti-matter ocean in which certain waves boil up to meet our reality. Who knows, but whatever is going on, it sounds like a fun space to listen to on an album. Maybe not so fun to visit in reality though, if that were even possible.

The final track I will mention is something a bit different. Dimmer was originally released on the album DIM, and is a more frenetic creation. While I do find myself gravitating to Xerxes’ more brooding soundscapes, Dimmer is a fast-paced, retro-feeling, somewhat jaunty track that I found got stuck in my mind. It opens with an electronic melody that gets loud enough to feel almost uncomfortable, but then fades a little when lower tones join in. This track has a feeling of massive momentum, and the grainy distortion of the tones just gives it even more charm. Maybe it’s a radio broadcast from another universe, or maybe it’s a dimension jumper’s soundtrack of choice before they engage their mini-black hole-fuelled jump device. It’s a track that feels bright and vigorous, with a retro aesthetic that wouldn’t be amiss as the theme to a Netflix nostalgia-fuelled sci-fi series.

As you can see, X-Theory (Best of 2005-2020) is a great collection of some of Xerxes The Dark’s ambient creations. For me, it helped get me acquainted with some of his earlier work that I had missed, and also, in the case of Dimmer, saw me revisit an album that I should have paid more attention to, but that I didn’t feel was my type of thing at the time I came across it. I guess I’m saying that X-Theory is a gateway drug to Xerxes’ other works, smoothing the way for them to infest your mind. I’d bet that’s his plan anyway...

Visit the X-Theory (Best of 2005-2020) page on Bandcamp for more information. You can also watch the X-Theory Excerpt Video below:

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: X-Theory (Best of 2005-2020)

Album Artist: Xerxes The Dark

Released: 04 Dec 2020