Tuesday 29 June 2021

Dark Ambient Review: The Last Resort

Dark Ambient Review: The Last Resort

Review By Casey Douglass

The Last Resort

I’ve always liked fictional dystopias where there is some last bastion of comfort or normalcy for people to enjoy. Maybe a fully working pub in a settlement surrounded by zombies, or a video-game arcade still working in a deep fallout shelter that’s on its last legs. Beyond the Ghost’s The Last Resort is a dark ambient album themed around just such a place, a place where fleeting pleasures might just be found.

The album description describes a world covered in disease, poverty and tension, although in 2060 Berlin rather than 2021. The Last Resort is one of the last places that is still open, a refuge for the world weary; for the suicides delaying the tightening of the noose or the downing of the pills by just one more day. The album art above certainly paints the club as a welcoming place, its golden manna-from-heaven glow neatly reflecting back from the ugly metal pipes across the rain-slicked street.

The sounds that the album contains feel like surreptitious snatches of melody or tone. The drumbeats are slow and rattling, and the other traditional instruments, such as the trumpet tones and piano notes, echo away into soundscapes that convey a melancholy and a lack of hope. Think of the feeling you might get when you go to one of your favourite venues, one that you’ve heard is closing soon. Add some dark red drapes that hang from floor to ceiling, a miasma of smoke and halogen light bulbs, and the fear that you won’t see it again, and you are almost at the mood that The Last Resort creates.

The track Late Night at The Last Resort is my favourite track, as I felt that it best created the aforementioned sense of “the last good times” ending. It begins with low, twisting plucked notes that bend down into the depths. A whiny metallic sound grinds and pulls in the air, and the soundscape throbs with a tired tension. The falling tones made me think of the race to the bottom, the mournful notes maybe depicting the illicit stuff that goes on in the The Last Resort club. This is the space where sex is sold, where mind altering metal filings are plunged into watered-down drinks, and where murders are planned. Towards the end of the track, a distorted voice crackles on a distant radio or speaker, a pregnant high tone whining in the background.

Another great track is A Transient Shelter. This track also features tones that seem to sink down into the depths, brass notes in this case. They sit against a buzzing hum and an airy high tone. Around the midpoint a tinny, tiny insect-like whine appears, like a midge flying around your head. The midge whine and the plummeting notes for me, created a great feeling of tension and threat. There are smoother elements too, such as a relaxed drumbeat and slowly plucked notes. These sit in the ominous soundscape as a great counterbalance, to stop it going too far into despair.

The Sadness of All Things is a track that opens with the sound of rain and the plinking of metal creaking. There is a howling wind and a gentle blare of tone before thumping, echoey piano notes begin to depict a melody. Some of the higher tones in this track create an almost “cat meow” like impression, maybe hinting at an alleyway full of detritus, whether discarded items or discarded people. From the midpoint onwards, a distant yell or cry-like sound rises above the other elements, someone, somewhere in despair. Another bleak but great track.

Finally, Red Curtains is the last track that I will mention. A pulsing airy tone is joined by squeaking echoes, like some strange sonar of despair. Small knocks or impacts sound, soaring tones soon being joined by a church-organ-like aesthetic. I couldn’t help wondering if this was some kind of melancholy strip-club room, everything rusted and out of service, yet people still sitting in the shadows, wisps of smoke the vehicles for their thoughts of happier times.

The Last Resort is a dark ambient album of morose places populated by the phantoms of remembered pleasures. Framed by a near future dystopia, one that, if you look at current circumstances, could very easily grow from our current trials and tribulations as a species. A great album to dip into a bleak future, to then return to the present day and enjoy what you’ve got, while you’ve still got it.

Visit the The Last Resort page on Bandcamp for more information. You can also check out the track: Late Night at The Last Resort below: 

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: The Last Resort

Album Artist: Beyond the Ghost

Label: Cryo Chamber

Released: 26 Jan 2021

Sunday 27 June 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Dark & Light

Dark Ambient Review: Dark & Light

Review By Casey Douglass

Dark & Light - Modern Music for Funerals

Dark & Light is a dark ambient playlist from Modern Music For Funerals. As the title might suggest, it features ten tracks that fall into various places on the mood spectrum. In my opinion, the balance tips closer to the dark side of the equation, which is just fine by me.

The tracks that seemed to speak to me the most come from the PLATFORM album. Dark Summer is the first of these in the playlist. It begins with the echoes of distant voices, possibly children at play. A low tone swells and rolls, a shimmering soon joins it in the air. As the track progresses, various sounds also join the tableau, from piano notes and the sound of what might be exhalation, to the sound of waves and the glugging of water. What this track made me think of, is how it feels to lay in a dark, hot room during the day. This room has thick curtains that block out most of the light, save for the small gaps where they meet or where they hang away from the wall. The window is open, and the sounds of life going on outside seem more distant than purely physical distance can account for. This is the mood that I felt this track encapsulated.

Another track that comes from PLATFORM is Jettisoned. Jettisoned starts with a buzzing pulsing tone, and a tinny series of electronic Morse code-like beeps. A distant alarm seems to blare, and then we hear the sound of servos moving and whining, with new status beeps along for the ride. There are radio crackles, the hissing of air and later, a kind of fizzing muted beat. The second part of the track seems to have a more urgent feel to things, whatever is going on having reached a different phase or level of danger. For me, this was a fun, sci-fi track, that popped me into a gloomy, drifting spaceship, with red emergency lighting bathing the metal of the corridors in a premonition-baiting coating of blood. A nice dose of perilous sci-fi soundscaping to escape from the shitstorm of modern life.

A third track from PLATFORM is Alone, an almost twenty minute rumbling, ominous track, with more sci-fi atmosphere and technological threat. Buzz-saw shimmering, bass that seethes and agitates the soundscape, beeps, fizzes and static, they all play their part. Things feel like they are whizzing past your head as others judder and knock, along with what sounds like something winding down. The drone lulls and soothes, and later, there are moments of a distorted computer voice, maybe trying to tell the listener how wrong things have truly gone. Around a third of the way in, the soundscape breaks into a period of gentle peace, lighter tones emerging, the harsher rumbles and beeps fading awhile. Maybe this is the period where, when someone is alone for long enough, they experience their first moment of finding the bliss in this situation. Like so many things though, it doesn’t last long, and the track soon returns to the brooding buzzing space of before.

The last playlist track that I will mention is from a different album to the ones mentioned so far. I know... On a scale of one to ten, how shocked are you? A Transmutation of Friendship is a lighter track than the others, and features a pulsing sub tone and a relaxed kinetic feeling. There is the kind of feeling you might get as a passenger on a train in motion, as telephone or power poles seemingly make a whup-whupping sound as their shadows slide along the sunlit carriage. There are hints of light tones at the edge, a jittery electronic buzz, and a gentle scuffing beat. It’s a very pleasant track, and one suited to a quiet weekend.

The Dark & Light playlist has other tracks, with other sounds and moods, but these were the ones that spoke to my own dark taste. Head over to the SoundCloud link to check out the full list and have a listen. You might also like to visit and join The IDM Production Bureau, the online community created by the album artist, for lovers and producers of IDM. 

Playlist Title: Dark & Light

Music Artist: Modern Music For Funerals

Friday 25 June 2021

Dark Ambient Review: False Awakening

Dark Ambient Review: False Awakening

Review By Casey Douglass

False Awakening
Album Cover

Dreams are amazing but often so confusing. The way that we usually accept what is happening as normal, even if we’ve just seen a rabbit transform into a skyscraper, it just boggles the mind. When we wake up, we find it hard to understand our night-time mental state, how we could be so foolish and gullible. False Awakening is a dark ambient album from Drifting in Silence, an album that takes time to reflect on the dream theories of Carl Jung.

Generally speaking, the soundscapes contained on False Awakening are smooth and gentle, lulling and relaxing. Many of the tracks have a deep pulsing quality that carries the listener along in some audio mimicry of peristaltic movement, as if they’ve been swallowed by a giant trance-inducing cuddle creature. There are field recordings and warm electronic tones, along with guitar and piano notes. These elements do a great job of concocting a dream-like feeling of fuzziness and mystery.

One of my favourite tracks is Myth of Memory. It begins with the sounds of a gentle breeze, trickling water or rain, and birdsong. A wispy electronic melody floats into being, setting the soundscape into a pulsing, blanketed sensation of night fall and peace. Or, as I wrote in my notes, a marshmallow fog encasing the listener. There is a lower tone sitting beneath things, the tones all playing together to make the soundscape feel rich and deep. A peaceful track.

Another track that I wanted to mention is Unknown Archetype. This also opens with birdsong, but is soon populated with an airy drone and echoing, languid single notes. There are also small clicks or sounds of activity. This track, for me, had a meditative, temple-like feel. The kind of temple that you might see a character in a film stumble across, one hidden in an unruly jungle, full of furtive rustling and stern-faced statues. The tones twist down into a more ominous sound as the track progresses, leaving the listener to wonder if the temple is one of spiritual advancement or cannibalistic domination.

The last track that I wanted to talk about is also the last track on the album: False Awakening. It starts with a growing drone and what seems to be the static of a howling wind. There are plucked guitar notes and a shimmering too. The initial mental image that came to me, was of a dew-laden watering-can sitting on a wet lawn, the golden light of the rising sun making everything glow. As the soundscape evolves however, I felt a darkness creep in, or maybe a deception. The glowing dewy watering-can ended up sitting in a tight circle of sunlight, the rest of the garden remaining clocked in the heavy blanket of night. I liked this feeling, this weird, interesting place to be.

False Awakening is a dark ambient album that for me, produced a host of fun, dream-like images and scenes. As I said in my introduction, there is little harshness to be found here, which makes this a fine album to relax with or doze off to sleep to. There was a pleasing amount of both darkness and light, and I’m a big fan of the pulsing qualities that sit so comfortably in the soundscapes. To repeat what I said above, let yourself be swallowed by the giant trance-inducing cuddle creature!

Visit the False Awakening page on Bandcamp for more information. You can also checkout the track, False Awakening below:

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: False Awakening

Album Artist: Drifting in Silence

Label: Secret Press

Released: 28 May 2021

Tuesday 22 June 2021

Dark Horror Short Review: Snore

Dark Horror Short Review: Snore

Review By Casey Douglass


Human characters in horror films tend to be weak and vulnerable, but when you swap humans for soft, fuzzy Muppet-style puppets, you open up a whole new world of strangeness. Snore is a splatstick horror comedy from Luther Bhogal-Jones, who, after playing with creatures of the night in Goodnight, Halloween, has inserted two hapless puppets into a dangerous situation.

Failed businesswoman Karen and her spineless assistant and squeeze Callum, end up having to stay in a dilapidated half-way house. In the darkness of the night, whilst sharing the tiny bed, they hear a strange sound. This sound comes from a sinister, small, pig-like creature called the Jip. What then ensues is a desperate battle between the luckless puppets and the armour-clad micro-porker. Blood is spilled, screams are uncorked and designer man-bags are ruined.


The first thing that really impressed me in the film was the physicality of the puppets. Just after Karen and Callum wake and begin searching the room, the detritus under the bed is pulled out and the bed is moved. Callum is the beast of burden throughout this period, his trembling body and pained grunts and heaves seeming entirely believable.


After Callum’s non-euphemistic bed gymnastics, we enter what I think I might call the “Ominous Red” phase of the film. The first manifestation of this is an eerie red glow emanating from behind a stack of boxes. The soundtrack pulses and throbs with threat. Callum trembles and mumbles as he peers through the gap. Something rushes past. He lifts some of the boxes and “a little creature” emerges on the other side. The Jip is now in play, and if you ever wondered if a puppet can bleed, you’ll get your answer watching Snore.


The Jip itself is played by a man in a suit, with some green-screen trickery used to create the battle between itself and the puppets. In a Q&A about Snore, one of the inspirations mentioned was the film of Steven King’s anthology Cat’s Eye, where a young Drew Barrymore is terrorized by a small evil puppet. Snore is a fun, tongue-in-cheek reversal of this human vs puppet dynamic.

I went into Snore without any real expectations and came away really impressed with the atmosphere and execution of the film. The puppets and the Jip are great, especially how they interact with the world and each other. The lighting and score make it feel like a true horror, and the way that it plays out in ten short minutes felt satisfying to me. If you like puppets in dire situations, and films that don’t take themselves too seriously, head over to the YouTube link below to give it a watch, I’d say it’s well worth your time.

Film Title:

Online Release: 31 May 2021

Length: 10 minutes 24 seconds

Link to View: YouTube


Karen – Sarah Williams, Callum – Nick Holiday, Frances – Andrew Calverley


Director – Luther Bhogal-Jones

Writers – Luther Bhogal-Jones and Gabrielle Wright

Producer – Luther Bhogal-Jones/ Faster Productions with financial assistance from Adur and Worthing Trust

Director of Photography – Anthony Gurner

Production Design/ Props – Jenny Ray

Production Assistants – Sam Elfer, Jim Faulkner, Mark Tew, Simon Messingham, Christopher Regan, Peter Regan

Editor – Luther Bhogal-Jones

Grade – Anthony Gurner

Mouse Hole CGI FX – Jason Arber c/o Phantom Limb

Title Animation/ VFX Comping – Nick Gripton

Music – Mikolaj Holowko

Sound Design and Mixing – Alyn Sclosa c/o Sclosa Post Audio

Puppets designed by Garry Robson

Puppets created by Charlotte Regan

With thanks to Peter Regan, Arna Maria Kristjansdottir, Harriet Lansodwn

Jip creature designed by Garry Robson

Jip miniature/ creature costume and performance by Jean-Daniel Byrne

With thanks to The Artpothecary, Brighton

Saturday 19 June 2021

Dark Ambient Review: The Umbra Report

Dark Ambient Review: The Umbra Report

Review By Casey Douglass

The Umbra Report

When it comes to fiction or the imagination, I’m a fan of strange rooms. These rooms are often the kinds of space that might once have been a lounge or a dining room, but that have since been converted or adapted for peculiar experiments. Maybe a room has been cleared so that a séance can take place. Maybe the room is untouched and scientific equipment has been added to monitor something unseen. I just like this mixture of the mundane and the bizarre. Cities Last Broadcast’s The Umbra Report is a dark ambient album that embodies this feeling in audio form.

My favourite track is Disembodied. It begins with a rumbling drone, one populated with scratchy higher tones and static. This feels like a trembling soundscape, like everything is a quiver with strange energy. The image that came to mind to describe this track is a group of fairy beings, e.g. pixies, elves, etc. Said beings are coming down from a magic mushroom high, sprawled about on the floor of a dilapidated mouldy squat. A purer tone sprinkles a sense of sadness over things, and the overall impression that I got was that of someone being out of their usual place and time, disconnected, but not necessarily in a healthy way. It felt very dark to me.

Stares Back is another track that stood out for me. It starts with a raspy, sigh-like sound, a deeper tone soon quietly blooming into life. An airy drone sits behind things, a humming and resonant tone soon follow. The rasping sound twists into a sense of tortured strings and squeals, and faint impacts can be heard thudding at various times. This track felt like what might be going on in someone’s mind as they stare into a mirror, playing a game of “who is the real person” with the reflection. I dare say that in this case, when they turn away, they don’t see the reflection still staring daggers at their back. Just how it should be.

Wherever the Heart Goes is another rich and atmospheric track. Beyond the windy-feeling and rustling, beyond the hints of breathing and static, there emerges what sounds like heavy stone objects sliding. I couldn’t shake the mental impressions gathered from watching many films in which stone temple walls slide, sink or rotate, and with the track title in mind, I fancied I was listening to some strange, dark oubliette of the heart, a soundscape of shifting exploration and deeper ensnarements. It was very cool to listen to.

The Umbra Report is a scratchy, static-filled album, its soundscapes populated by distorted voices, strange throbbing atmospheres, and drones that cloak the whole in a warm, breathing darkness. There are hints and impressions of musical melodies and singing, but they are soon claimed by the more esoteric elements and shredded into a strange, otherworldly waiting-room ambience. The album description hints at the depicted events as being a possible depression, séance or exorcism, but whatever is actually occurring, its certainly creepy and fun to listen to.

See also: Black Stage of Night and The Humming Tapes for more rich, occult-atmospheres.

Visit the The Umbra Report page on Bandcamp for more information. You can also check out Disembodied below:

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: The Umbra Report

Album Artist: Cities Last Broadcast

Label: Cryo Chamber

Released: June 1 2021

Thursday 17 June 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Watcher at the Gates

Dark Ambient Review: Watcher at the Gates

Review By Casey Douglass

Watcher at the Gates
Album Cover

Watcher at the Gates is a dark ambient album from Kehseverin, aka Wesley Hiatt. I’ve reviewed a number of Wesley’s dark creations in previous months, and he always has a knack for creating tense, gritty spaces and distorted soundscapes. Watcher at the Gates is another album full of dark feelings; the heavy, fuzzy sounds rubbing against bleak field-recordings and seemingly simple yet effective tones and melodies.

One of my favourite tracks is My Solemn Oath. It opens with a low muffled rumbling and contains a pulsing atmosphere that presses and pressures the ears. A buzzing tone soon joins, smearing an ominous fuzzy feeling over the soundscape. As the track progresses, a trundling/engine-like sound joins, and also, a more energetic tone that seems to have the aspect of bashed piano notes, but notes that are muffled at the edges by distortion. This felt like a murky, pressurized track to me, and it was great to listen to.

Another track that stood out for me was Soliloquy. It begins with a pulsing high tone, a slightly lower tone dragged along as its companion. A bass hum joins things, and the tones stretch and buzz and fuzz as things deepen. The best way I could describe this track is like the audio equivalent of watching dappled sunlight on a disintegrating concrete wall. The sickly tree that’s casting the shadow is wilting and suffocated by the environment around it, its dead leaves hanging like broken promises. The tree’s shadow however, looks strangely perfect. That’s how I’d describe the feelings that this track brought to the surface for me.

The last track that I'll mention is Upon Rooftops, as I found this to be particularly dark. An agitated buzzing grows in each ear, a warm bass tone pushing and sighing from beneath. This feels like another fuzzy, “staticy” track. After awhile, a leafy rustling begins, roaming from ear to ear. A deep simple melody warbles and pulses beneath. The sound of rain emerges near the midpoint, with softer, high tones impinging as the track nears its end. This track felt like it contained the ceaseless attempts of something grating against the harshness of reality. The dominant rustling sound just might be a struggling bird trapped behind a boarded up window, the choice between standing still or fluttering left, right and back again apparently its only option. A track that embodies the emotion of futility.

Watcher at the Gates is bleak yet warm, sad yet brave. Sometimes in life, you just need to drink in the misery that you feel, simply because doing anything else seems like deluding yourself or being untrue. In doing so, you might just experience a little space opening up around the things that bother you or that you feel are dragging you down. Watcher at the Gates might just provide the audio accompaniment to this.

Visit the Watcher at the Gates page on Bandcamp for more information.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Watcher at the Gates

Album Artist: Kehseverin

Label: VoidSoundLTD

Released: 3 May 2021