Tuesday 9 February 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Dust Of Human Race

Dark Ambient Review: Dust Of Human Race

Review by Casey Douglass

Dust Of Human Race

Death has been a constant in the world since the day that life decided it wanted to get out of bed to stretch its legs. In these current pandemic-fuelled times, the big “D” has attained ever more prominence, particularly in the way that we’re now fed daily figures of how many have sadly become acquainted with it. Some people don’t like to think about death, unless forced to by circumstance. Others have no problem pondering the nature of it. Personally, I think this second bunch have the right idea, and Sonologyst’s dark ambient album Dust of Human Race provides the soundtrack for these intrepid souls.

The album description of Dust Of Human Race is a quote from Ovid which reads: “Wherever you look, there is nothing but the image of death”. Sonologyst has taken inspiration from an assortment of philosophies and outlooks on death, hoping that the created music can in some way capture or explain the essence of this universal, but also deeply personal, experience. As a consequence, the tracks roam from the work of horror writer Thomas Ligotti to Buddhism, and even to Sardinian funeral rituals.

My favourite track is Teatro Grottesco. It begins with a sustained tone, and an organ melody soon joins it. Then a screeching, witch-like howl shreds the soundscape, turning to laughter a short time later. Things warp and buzz, and at one point it sounds like a whole coven of witches cackling. A two-note rhythm begins, and things shriek some more, backed by hiss and static. The track ends with a “music box” melody, soothing the mind after the harshness that came before. I didn’t know anything about Thomas Ligotti and his dark fiction before writing this review, but if his stories are as sinister and mocking as this track, which was inspired by them, I think I’d do well to read some of his work.

Another track that I really enjoyed was Avidyā. It opens with a pulsing, string-like tone, backed by a waterfall static. Things judder and stutter, tones sweep and beep like strange insects. The overall effect of this track, for me, was to make me think of some kind of digital Buddha, an advanced A.I that is so fed up with the crap it has to deal with on social media, that it has constructed a small digital waterfall oasis, just to have a metaphorical ciggy and to take five. Maybe the A.I we create will inherit our fears and mannerisms too? Maybe this Buddha is ready to call it a day? Who knows.

Titular track Dust of Human Race is a slightly different beast, opening the album with ear-to-ear tones and a hypnotic pulsing. It felt like a kind of gritty, boiling feeling, and for some reason, I envisioned pillars of light, each at the corner of a pyramid, sending strange energies into the sky, the apex itself beaming a different colour. It’s a dark landscape, and the soundscape becomes more agitated, more sweeping signals and “busier” as it climbs. I thought about tiny people walking towards this blooming of power, their bodies vaporized in the beams and shot into the heavens. The soundscape, for me, was one of annihilation, the ahh-like tones and shimmering, hiding the reality of extinction from the minds of those breaching the beams. Don’t psychoanalyse me, I’m just doing my best to explain the way that my mind interpreted stuff. I’m normal. Honest.

Dust Of Human Race is an eclectic dark ambient album, one that contains a variety of soundscapes and moods. Some of the tracks feel a little gothic, others fizz with radio tones, and yet others treat the listener to dark chants or strange pulsing energies. It’s quite fitting really. Death, as with so many topics, has so many ways of being looked at, it’s little wonder that something that takes our various outlooks as inspiration, will have such a range of expression. Visit Dust Of Human Race on Bandcamp to check it out.

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

Album Title: Dust Of Human Race

Album Artist: Sonologyst

Label: Eighth Tower Records

Released: 5 Feb 2021