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