Thursday 11 February 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Aftermath

Dark Ambient Review: Aftermath

Review by Casey Douglass


Almost every time that I see a bit of “space news”, it fills my head with vast distances, fiery stars and the crushing majesty of the universe. I enjoy dark space ambient albums for that same reason, as they have the ability to transport my mind to somewhere that I’ve never been, and never will. Aftermath released in 2018, and is a collaborative album from dark ambient artists Alphaxone and Xerxes the Dark. It’s an album set up to trigger that “wonder gland” in your mind, particularly if you get turned on by strange planets and the prospect of alien life.

The album description tells tale of an ancient stone tablet that sent you to an alien world. Once there, you find a strange black monolith, the kind of monolith that emits all kinds of strange energies and transmissions that mess with your equipment. That’s right, the best kind of monolith. The track titles frame each soundscape as relating to certain parts of the story, from the discovery of an Ancient Amulet, to Deep Space Signals and onwards to The Planet and beyond.

Unveiling The Script is one of my favourite tracks. It opens with a pulsing hollow drone and a rising insect-like sound that changes to a more sweeping shimmer. Chittering echoes judder into life, a deep drone rumbling beneath them. There is a hiss, which just might be the sound of pressurised air being used to blow way dust that hides ancient writing. An “ahh-like” vocal aspect seems to suggest itself, a fuzzy beeping/pinging tone shortly on its heels. This track really brought to mind the idea of examining something ancient, something not seen by human eyes for millennia, and the mystical feel to it really shines through.

Activating is another track that I really enjoyed. It begins in a dark, echoing way, distant impacts seeming to resound and pulse from ear-to-ear. A low swell of a windy drone comes and goes, an “Om chant” effect seeming to settle in the soundscape. There is a metallic feel to the echoes here, the high whistling tone that emerges setting the scene for some kind of energetic process about to begin. I’m not entirely sure what is activating, but it sounds suitably ominous.

The Planet is also a fine track, one that sees the exploration party set eyes on a new world. It kicks off with what sounds like the muffled air-crack of thunder. Alongside this is a resonant drone and a pulsing hum that seems to press at the sides of your mind. A distant metallic clattering and an “airy whistle” join the fun, with bird-like chirps and calls insinuating themselves not long after. This is a shimmery track, one that hints of discovery and vast distances. I can only imagine what it might be like to land on a strange new world. I wouldn’t be surprised if it sounded a bit like this.

Aftermath is a dark space ambient album that embodies the thrill of exploration, but does so in a smooth, gentle way. Many of the soundscapes are whistling, droning affairs, the high shimmer seeming to blend into the galactic background of a universe that is so much bigger and stranger than we will likely ever realise. Aftermath takes the listener on a relaxing journey into the stars, and it does it very well indeed.

Visit the Aftermath page on Bandcamp for more information. You can also checkout one of the tracks, Unveiling the Script below:

I was given access to a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Aftermath

Album Artist: Alphaxone & Xerxes the Dark

Label: Cryo Chamber

Released: 6 Nov 2018