Sunday 9 May 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Behind the Veil of Black Stars

Dark Ambient Review: Behind the Veil of Black Stars

Review By Casey Douglass

Behind the Veil of Black Stars
Album cover

In my recent interview with Scott Lawlor, we touched on the topic of’s One Sample Dare Challenges, contests in which the composers must use only one sample to create their musical piece. Scott recently released Behind the Veil of Black Stars, a slice of dark space ambient that was created for one of these challenges. The album consists of three, twenty to thirty minute tracks, each of which conjures up the bleak indifference of space in its own way. My favourite track is No Place To Land, and one of the main notes I wrote about it was “Recipe for agitation?” You'll see why.

No Place To Land begins with a low, gradual sound, a little like wind blowing along a plastic tunnel. It winds upwards and begins to rasp with a sharpness to its edge not long after. A shrill sound emerges, which to me, seemed like a flock of jackdaws settling for the night. The track starts to feel as if it has a mechanical underpinning not long after this, which I think is confirmed by the siren-like sound that comes after.

The siren tone arrives at about the three minute mark, and it feels like it agitates the soundscape. It also cements the impression that the rest of the track gave me, which was of a spaceship trying to land on a barren planet, but each time that it gets near to the ground, it spies some reason as to why it shouldn’t land. The track lifts and falls, rises and descends, over and over. You feel like you can hear engines winding down and surging upwards with each failed attempt, and that very much sets the scene for the remainder of the track.

I liked the uneasiness that No Place To Land seemed to bring about in my mind. It wasn’t too harsh or uncomfortable, but as someone who knows how his brain feels when his OCD has tripped him up with rumination and anxiety, No Place To Land approximates this unsettled feeling, but in a much more mellow way. It’s like a dark, space-based Groundhog Day, but with subtle changes as it plays out.

There is much to enjoy in the other tracks too. Behind The Veil of Stars is a track that seems to shimmer and boil with static, drone and an ominous feeling of vast depth and distance. Unquiet Spirits Wandering a Dying Planet flicks bubbling tones and electronic warbles from ear to ear in the first half, yet settles into a deeper, “plane flying over your head” droning space for the second half, which I must admit I preferred. They are both great tracks.

It’s amazing to think that Behind the Veil of Black Stars was made with only one sample at its core, and yet Scott has twisted and manipulated it into a dark sci-fi creation, one that thrums with the cold of space and the threat of an indifferent universe.

Visit the Behind the Veil of Black Stars page on Bandcamp for more information.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Behind the Veil of Black Stars

Album Artist: Scott Lawlor

Released: 10 April 2021