Tuesday 30 March 2021

Dark Ambient Review: interlopers

Dark Ambient Review: interlopers

Review By Casey Douglass


I think that some of the best horrors take the sights and sounds that we see every day, and introduce some unsettling element to them, something that corrupts them and forces us to look at things differently. This feeling lingers even when we are done with the film, show or book, and when we next see a similar object, we get echoes of those feelings. Josh Sager’s dark ambient album interlopers would provide a great soundtrack for such a tale.

The interlopers album art makes me think of invaders from other dimensions, or maybe humanity has finally made the weapon that will cause its own extinction. The metal structure and the chopped edits give rise to ideas of a mashing of worlds, or a clash of strange energies. The ubiquity of these kinds of structures, or similar ones such as pylons, in the developed world at least, drags these feelings into the realm of the everyday. The album title: interlopers, and the various track names, such as “auger spires” and “when mountains walk” really cemented these ideas for me, which the music then confirmed with gusto.

The first and titular track “interlopers” gives a great broad taste of what I felt. It opens with a fizzing, punching double beat, a windy drone blowing behind it. A buzzing electronic tone pulses out a simple melody, a high bird-like tone and a howl-like wail occasionally sounding. There is even the chime-like clinking of what could be milk bottles being left on a doorstep. This track brought such images to mind as an angry sky, a building storm, litter strewn streets and grit covered windows. It felt ominous though, like whatever catastrophe has occurred is either the first of many, or that the thing that caused it is still in the area, still a threat.

The track “to a flame” is one of my favourites. I think it’s because it opens with, for me, a retro horror-feeling electronic melody, the kind that you might hear as the victims in a film approach the haunted house that they are about the spend the night in. A scratchy beat begins a little later, accompanied by a low vibrating tone that almost snarls into the soundscape. A short while later, a roaming, ghostly sound begins, sweeping rushes of air pushing static through the ears. This track is another ominous one, and the changes in melody that come after the midpoint only serve to ramp this feeling up even more.

The final track that I wanted to talk about is “auger spires”. This is partly because it opens with a gentle, light tone and drone, with only small hints of wind or menace. The soundscape feels resonant and pulsing, and on an emotional level, ominous, but like a moment of respite too. It caused me to think about what an out of town industrial estate is like at midnight. Wide roads, tall, hanger like buildings and expanses of concrete. Then a vibrating tone begins in the track, a shuddering impact hot on its heels. For me, this was the audio equivalent of the street lights or security lights gradually fading as something dark or evil approaches. There is a shrill tone that twists in the air, and things turn to that uneasy, apprehensive feeling once more.

If you enjoy dark ambient music with fizzing electronic tones, haunting drones and unsettling “windy night on an industrial estate after an invasion” atmospheres, you should take a closer listen to Josh Sager’s interlopers at the link below.

Visit the interlopers page on Bandcamp for more information. You can also check out the titular track below:

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: interlopers

Album Artist: Josh Sager

Released: 22 Feb 2021