Wednesday 13 January 2021

Dark Ambient Review: DIM (Reissue)

Dark Ambient Review: DIM (Reissue)

Review by Casey Douglass

DIM (Reissue)

I’m a big fan of the dark ambient creations of Xerxes The Dark. However, almost two years ago, I had the chance to review the DIM (Reissue) and I didn’t really feel it was to my taste. Fate had other ideas though, and in my recent review of Xerxe’s mammoth X-Theory collection, I was exposed to one of DIM (Reissues)’s tracks: Dimmer. I really enjoyed it, and decided that I really should take a closer listen to the album. So here I am, after having taken a closer listen.

As the album description explains, DIM was the first Xerxes The Dark album that Morego Dimmer released. The original had more tracks, but as I hadn’t heard the original, I came fresh into the reissue with nothing to really compare it to. This version has a few less tracks but was remastered to increase the quality. I can appreciate that the album a high-school age Morego produced back in the day might stand to have some deft tweaks and edits here and there, much like my writing from only a few years ago. So fair play to Morego for going back to squeeze some extra goodness from the raw material that he had already produced.

As I mentioned in the X-Theory review, Dimmer is still my favourite track. I thought that I described it quite well there, so I’ll simply quote myself (yuk) so that I can move on to some of the others. “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.”

The opening track, Dim Curse, is another that I had fun with. It starts with bursts of static, a drone and a warbly echo, and it put me in mind of the white static hiss you get on an old TV with no signal. As the track continues, I felt like the ghost of a picture or pattern was starting to form, a feeling of something trying to break through. With the tones that sweep up and down and the general fuzzy feeling, it left me with more of that retro sci-fi feeling mentioned above, like something scary and fun was about to play out on screen, or even come through it.

Dim Land, the next track, is a less fuzzy one, but still with a playful aspect. Electronic tones ping off like laser beams into a colourful horizon, like the kind seen in an old video-game, where colour steals the awareness more than shape at times. Things feel like they hang in the air, which is something I noted down as “like flotsam in the wake of a starship in a purple universe.” Later in Dim Land, I heard agitated electronic tones, spirals, and an airy sound that just might be the sharp intake of breath through razor-blade lips. This is a pretty trippy album for me, and I enjoyed the variety of images that the tones and soundscapes inspired in my mind.

DIM (Reissue) was an album I flicked through previously, but on returning to it, I found a lot to enjoy. I don’t know if my tastes have changed in the few years since I first sampled it, or if I just decided too quickly that it wasn’t for me at the time, but sitting here, in present day 2021, I’m glad X-Theory gave me another chance to return to it and to give it a decent chance. What I found was a fun, trippy, lo-fi electronic album, with some catchy melodies and a time-warping feeling of nostalgia. Most of the tracks seem to echo or incorporate the sounds that you hear in previous ones, and this helps build a real feeling of continuity and cohesion. If you like your dark ambient a bit more electronic, a bit more frenetic, and a lot more fuzzy, check out DIM (Reissue).

Visit the DIM (Reissue) page on Bandcamp for more information.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: DIM (Reissue)

Album Artist: Xerxes The Dark

Label: Zāl Records

Released: 12 May 2019