Thursday 1 April 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Shore Rituals

Dark Ambient Review: Shore Rituals

Review By Casey Douglass

Shore Rituals

Anywhere humans want to go, but can’t, whether because of their physiology or a lack of technology, tends to be the fertile stuff of myth. Ever since we had a name for it, the sea has been home to all manner of monsters and gods. Ruptured World’s Shore Rituals is a dark ambient album that gives voice to these superstitions and fears, letting the listener almost feel their ears dipping below the surface of the briny water.

Common sounds that can be heard on Shore Rituals include the field-recorded movements of the sea, the wind, and the waves. A number of the tracks begin with these sounds, dipping down below the surface into a world of different tones and impressions, before returning to the surface once more. Other sounds that appear more than once, include the use of warbled radio voices or music, and piano notes that warp and bend, almost as if the pressure of the depths itself is having an effect on them. I particularly enjoyed the periods of radio activity, as it is a lovely way to knit the otherworldly more closely with this world.

Opening track, The Merman, is one of my favourites. It begins with the wind, waves, and tinny radio squeals and chatter, a light drone looming behind. It felt like listening to a fishing boat at sea, bobbing away under a moody sky. A short time later, the sounds do the thing that I mention above, the waves quieten, the listener seems to dive underneath the surface, and the soundscape becomes a peaceful, vast space. A hint of gentle male vocal floats along, whistling, almost sonar-like notes further emphasising the expanse around the listener. There are small sounds that plink and croak, almost frog-like. There is also some piano melody as the surface-level sounds reappear. This whole soundscape feels mysterious, deep, and at the end, a little jaunty or playful.

The piano notes make a strong return in another favourite track of mine: Catharsis II. The track opens with a lurching, drunken piano melody, a light tone in the soundscape taking up a similar aspect, maybe even a mocking aspect. A deeper, slower, tone takes over, the space deepening with a dark drone. A high pitched vocal-like tone shrills and billows, like ghosts flitting around a doomed ship. I enjoyed how this soundscape starts almost whimsically, and then warps into something far more creepy, the ghostly tones probably the highlight for me.

The Human Vessel is another track that I really enjoyed. It opens with the sounds of the sea and a high, sustained tone, tinny radio music warbling behind it. There is an airy rumbling and a metallic knocking, and things start to feel heavier and ominous. A warping piano melody takes over from the radio tones, the soundscape juddering and creaking around it. A male monologue begins a short time later, talking about staring into the void and a tomb of his own wishes. The piano resumes accompanied by a light tone, the sea waves returning to see the track out.

Shore Rituals is a salt-laced windswept album, one that I think does a great job of helping the listener experience some of the majesty, mystery and magnitude, of the liquid that covers so much of our planet. Its tinny radio sounds and strange piano melodies act like an anchor for the mind, the sea and the things beneath it always pulling and pushing at the edge of the imagination. If you enjoy your dark ambient sea-soaked and mythical, you should check out the Shore Rituals link below.

Visit the Shore Rituals page on Bandcamp for more information. You can also listen to the track Catharsis II below:

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Shore Rituals

Album Artist: Ruptured World

Label: Cryo Chamber

Released: 23 March 2021