Sunday 3 January 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Daemon

Dark Ambient Review: Daemon

Review by Casey Douglass


I think that I first came across the word “Daemon” when listening to the audiobook of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. In those books, it was an animal manifestation of someone’s inner-self, but the word has a number of other meanings, from the background processes on a computer, to Greek notions of deity. Mindspawn’s dark ambient album Daemon, is a contemplation of a number of these notions, and it tells the story of one daemon in particular.

One of the sounds that I most enjoyed on this album, occurs on a number of the tracks. It’s a strange, stifled voice, like someone trying to talk with no tongue, or an echo from a long way away in a dark tunnel. Supplicate is a track strong in this. It begins with a low drone and a chant-like quality entering the soundscape. A high tone stabs through the air, making the atmosphere warble. Then the strange voices begin, like something trying to communicate with you, but that you can’t really understand. The soundscape seems to boil and trundle along, and after the midpoint, some of the sounds made me wonder if some kind of debate was going on, but one that has moved further away from the listener. A dense, heady track.

Axon Terminus is another track that I really enjoyed. It opens with a whirring, resonating tone. A pulsing buzzing joins shortly after, a lower tone also blaring out like a horn. It’s not long after this that some of the tones clip and cut out mid pulse, like someone stifling them in the air with their fingers. It’s an interesting sensation and conveys a great quirky feeling of strangeness. As in most of the tracks on Daemon, this one is a low, brooding soundscape. Around the midpoint, it becomes a more chimey, resonant space. There is even the sound of what might a strange creature jabbering at one point. Maybe the daemon has passed through, from the darkness to light, like some kind of etheric stargate?

Another track that had a great texture was Margin of Error. For me, the soundscape felt like it was describing something fantastical, rubbing up against the more normal world. It felt like being in a deep underground car park, hearing the rumbling of traffic high above but far away. It felt like seeing strange lights and shadows, and feeling alone and far from help. The deep swells of tone even made it feel like hearing the breathing of some great leviathan, maybe even being inside it. I don’t know whose error is alluded to in the track title. It could easily be the wanderer in that dark place, or rumbling things that were aiming for somewhere else, but found themselves in the wrong location. It’s a very cool track.

Unbound is the last track that I’ll mention. It’s a deep, brooding space, vast but dense. There are sounds that might be distant cries, but they sound like a chainsaw revving up and down. A little later, there are wolf-like howls, shimmering echoes and a feeling of chittering. For me, this whole track brought to mind some kind of mental turmoil, taking the form of a vast underground cave system, rumbling with strange static and abyssal rumblings. Maybe the daemon has been severed from its linked-host and is wandering the mental projections of their mind, trying to find a way back to being remembered again. Whatever is going on, it’s fun to listen to.

Daemon is a rumbling, brooding album, the snatches of voice-like exclamations and the chant-like feel to the soundscapes make it a great album for contemplation. It’s smooth, echoing and wraith-like, and I thought it did a really nice job of creating the “alone, but not alone” feeling that any thought about daemons might bring up in us. It’s definitely an album that you should check out.

Visit the Daemon page on Bandcamp for more information.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Daemon

Album Artist: Mindspawn

Released: 18 Dec 2020