Saturday 10 April 2021

Dark Ambient Review: #44 - The Recluse

Dark Ambient Review: #44 - The Recluse

Review By Casey Douglass

#44 - The Recluse

A few weeks ago, I was browsing my Bandcamp feed, and I saw The Owl’s dark ambient album #44 - The Recluse slide into view. I had a click through the three tracks and promptly decided that this sounded like my kind of thing. It felt dense and mind-filling, and after listening in more depth, I found that it had the wonderful ability to push the thoughts out of my mind, stifling the ever present merry-go-round of inner criticism and depressive predictions.

#44 - The Recluse is almost an hour long and is split into three tracks. The first is Oh, Sweet Catharsis, a track that opens with a warm, low drone. The soundscape felt like it had a rippling quality, maybe like the interference lines of a pebble splashing into a pond, but slowed down to a soothing, slo-mo rate. Lighter tones seem to emerge, suggesting themselves above the bass. These grow, and put me a little in mind of how a church organ might sound. A slight crackling of static soon follows, and then things build and build, with various elements distorting and seeming to compete with each other. At one moment the vibrating bass seems to be the louder, and then the “organ” flares up to out do it. This competing element, along with my notions of the church organ, set up a kind of God Vs Satan contest, an evolving audio tussle between two sides vying for control. That’s not to say it’s a violent track, I found it very relaxing.

The next track is Glacial Beauty. It might just be the suggestion I picked up from the track title, but I do think that this track feels cold. It opens with a low, airy, rumbling soundscape, one that evolves to contain a variety of pulsing elements. A growing static sits on top of this rumbling bass-line, making me think of midnight in the arctic. A deeper vibration begins, not unlike a rough-burning blue gas flame, if you dialled the sound up to mind-massaging levels. Around one third of the way in, a lighter tone begins, floating above the cold mental landscape like a seabird gliding above the frozen scene. A continuous bag-pipe-like whine dances with the warping higher tone of the seabird, the rough-burning gas flame a warm place to enjoy the show. This track is the longest on the album at almost 27 minutes long. It’s long enough to be lulling and comforting, yet also has enough elements to allow a variety of focusses. It builds and evolves, just like the first track, but takes a longer time to reach its peak, before simmering down to a calmer space in the final few minutes.

The third and final track is Emergence of Serenity. This track begins with a low drone, but not quite as low as the others. This one is more like a meditative chant, but there is a faster pulsing tone to keep it company. If the first track began like slow ripples on a pond, this one is the faster version. They culminate and then quietly dip down into a melancholy peacefulness. The first part of this track felt a little sci-fi to me. It had the whiff of space and vast distance, with static fuzzing that distance. Near the midpoint, things become more focussed on the bass end of the scale, a gritty throbbing vibration spreading and pulsing through the mind. The other tones come back with static, the distortion flapping in the listener’s ears, before things settle a little for a milder ending.

#44 - The Recluse is an album that creates some lovely, dense, walls of noise and drone. I wasn’t sure how I would get on with some of the harsher elements in some of the tracks, but they always felt like they stayed just the right side of “vigorous” for me. It was during my second listen (my non-note-taking session) that the album’s thought muffling powers became truly apparent. I’m struggling to remember another album that has engulfed my mind and yet also seen me nod off to it, even at its harsher moments. This is the good kind of nodding off by the way, not through boredom. #44 - The Recluse is currently name your price on Bandcamp below. I suggest you check it out if you like droning dark ambient with textures that bring peace to your dark mind, even if just for awhile.

Visit the #44 - The Recluse page on Bandcamp for more information.

Album Title: #44 - The Recluse

Album Artist: The Owl

Released: 12 Mar 2021