Friday 30 July 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Fifth Nature

Dark Ambient Review: Fifth Nature

Review By Casey Douglass

Fifth Nature Album Cover

One of the main consequences of social media and its “instant stardom for extreme view holders” is that thinking in shades of grey is sadly a rare thing to see. Everything boils down to a “with us or against us” standpoint, with the nuance and complexity of an issue banished to the side-lines. Fifth Nature is a cinematic dark ambient album from Skrika, one that contains a narrative featuring two sides of just such an issue.

Fifth Nature’s album description explains that the events that it depicts are happening in the distant future, that the Earth is fucked, and that the remaining people are split into two different camps: The Lemmites and the Atom Priesthood. The former think that even more technological intervention is the answer, the latter, that nature should be left alone and not meddled with. This sets the scene for sometimes mechanical, sometimes biological, sometimes ritual soundscapes, with chants and field recordings of the natural elements brushing up against sci-fi electronic tones.

My favourite track is Apokrytein. It begins with a deep droning chant and an ear to ear rushing sound. A male vocal begins to sing, a sighing quality in the soundscape behind it at times. When the singing stops, the soundscape fills with hushed whispers and more sensations of flowing air. A deeper sacral chanting begins, and shortly after, a floating high tone. A guttural throat gurgle insinuates itself from the shadows just before a choral vocal starts, the same guttural sound seeming to laugh a short time later. For me, this track felt like a temple peppered with flickering candle-flames, a sermon and the faithful gathered for solace and guidance, with a strange, mutated and unknown visitor chuckling as it peeps through a gap in the wall from the outside.

Another track that really stood out for me was Mechanics of Desolation. This is a rumbling track, with hints of wind that has a faint howling quality. There is a hollow, echoing beat and a bat-like chittering in response, followed by slow, chiming beats. This track feels like it’s “of the junk-yard”, metallic knocks and tones that all come together to create a rhythmic soundscape. There is a roulette-wheel clicking, a gas-like hiss and a grinding stone scraping. It has a feel of rattling bones too, and many of the elements come together at times to create the impression of a doomsday clock ticking away in some dark cathedral.

Seventh Extinction is also a track that I particularly enjoyed. It starts with a low drone and an electronic growl nestled amidst the sound of wind. String-like notes weave in the air and a breathless scuffling can be heard in the soundscape. Higher tones emerge later, along with an organ-like feel to things. This track felt like some kind of angry android trying to perform a task but getting bogged down by the rot and decay that it finds itself in.

Fifth Nature is a journey into a bleak future, one where technology and faith clash together on the battlefield of a ruined Earth. The two main characters mentioned in the album description do reconcile, but apparently, far too late to save the planet. It’s a multi-layered, dark album, one that presents the various elements at play in an accomplished and satisfying way. I look forward to hearing more of Skrika’s creations on Cryo Chamber.

Visit the Fifth Nature page on Bandcamp for more information. You can also check out the track Apokrytein below:

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Fifth Nature

Album Artist: Skrika

Label: Cryo Chamber

Released: 20 July 2021

Tuesday 27 July 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Journey of a Dying Girl

Dark Ambient Review: Journey of a Dying Girl

Review By Casey Douglass

Journey of a Dying Girl Album Cover
Album Cover

Death, or brushes with death, are probably the ultimate contact with reality. They offer a fresh perspective on how you view yourself and the world, and cut through so much of the fluff of life. Scott Lawlor’s Journey of a Dying Girl is a dark ambient album themed around one such experience: an attack, a floating between worlds, and a person returning to life utterly changed by the event.

Journey of a Dying Girl achieves the depiction of its theme by creating soundscapes infused with duality. The light tones and vocals nestle on a sea of low drones and rumblings, and this creates a feeling of the ethereal and the mundane brushing up against each other. There are piano and string notes, and a pleasing hint of the breeze that for me, firmly cemented the soundscapes as happening outside. These are tracks that flow and ebb as they play, each swell and fall of tone carrying the listener along.

My favourite track was Covered in Darkness. It opens with a low pulsing and a high distant whistling tone. A gentle drone sits in the background, a perpetual “ahhhh” populated with small chiming notes. As the track intensifies, there is a whistle like a metal kettle coming to the boil, a pleasing shimmering, and later, crackling, shuffling movements, along with what sounds like dripping leaves. This track made me think of a person walking through a black fog during the day time, tiny glinting pixie lights flaring and sputtering in the thick air particles around them.

Exit this Dimension is another track that I really enjoyed. It starts with a climbing and echoey female vocal sitting in a droning, breath-like space. The drone grows and a pulsing ringing tone emerges. Some time around the midpoint, the female vocal begins to create the impression of falling, with what I thought were the hisses of whispering at the fringes. Like Covered in Darkness, this felt like one of the darker tracks on the album, a meeting of one world with another.

Finally, the last track, In the Middle of a Garden, You Will See a Rose, is a great track for the album to end with. The album description describes the dying girl as coming back to life, and this track seems a great accompaniment to that. It begins with echoing piano notes and an insect-like buzz. There are the sounds of wind and leaves, with smooth high tones joining piano notes. There are bird-call-like electronic tones that seem to fall, a gentle drone and a pulsing feeling. This is a gentle track to end the album with, its darker tones and mood merging with a feeling of overcoming something, even if the act of overcoming has a high price.

Journey of a Dying Girl is the sound of a peaceful dalliance between the worlds of the living and the dying. While many dark ambient albums achieve their darker elements by more explicit means, this album creates a more subtle, smooth, depiction of the dark. It’s a chill and relaxing listen, and one that I believe is well worth your time to check out.

Visit the Journey of a Dying Girl page on Bandcamp for more information.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Journey of a Dying Girl

Album Artist: Scott Lawlor

Released: 16 July 2021

Sunday 25 July 2021

Dark Ambient Review: The Dark Side of Obscurity [EP]

Dark Ambient Review: The Dark Side of Obscurity [EP]

Review By Casey Douglass

The Dark Side of Obscurity [EP] Cover Art

When people start to piss you off, particularly the stories that they tell about each other or about the state of the world, by which I mean the “news”, I’m always thankful for dark ambient music and its ability to push everything away. The Dark Side of Obscurity is a dark ambient EP from Equidon, and its three cinematic tracks give the mind a great mini-break from society.

The first track is Underground System and it’s my favourite. It sets off with muffled, distant cracks of thunder, or explosions of some kind. A growing drone accompanies them, and a wind-like hiss that seems to blow a gust of pressure through the soundscape. A small “tappy” beat begins, and as the track progresses, this starts to feel more and more like a clock ticking. Over time, the track becomes a whispering, crackling space, the hissing wind sounding a little more howling as the end looms. There is even a little audio skip or glitch at intervals that wakes you from the lull of the drone. A dark track that really does feel like traversing dark tunnels while some calamity is happening upon the surface.

The next track is Nuclear Submarine. It starts with plinking, creaking echoes, the kind made by things floating in water and bumping into hard metal edges. The water glugs, there is a hiss of air, and a slow, low buzzing tone begins. This is a dense track, one that feels like being pushed down or confined in a small dark place. There are high elements such as a shimmer that comes and goes, but for the most part, this is a throbbing, murky track, one perfectly suited to pondering what it might be like to be stranded in a submarine, fathoms below the surface of the sea.

The final track is Approaching. This is a lighter track in comparison to the others, but still a strange one. It contains tones that warp and twist, and metallic clattering sounds. The sound of “smoothed” thunder appears a little later, small impacts and a quiet shimmer joining the droning space. I’m not sure how I’d describe what might be going on here. Maybe a psychic is summoning another being in a dark, musty cellar, the sounds of distant nightlife occasionally breaking through. It’s peaceful though, chant-like.

The Dark Side of Obscurity is a micro-dose of dark ambient to get you through your day. We are often told the benefit of taking a ten minute mindfulness breather, so why not take a 17 minute infusion of darkness on your lunch-break? If you are anything like me, it could be just the trick after you’ve eaten your sandwiches, stretched your legs, and realised just how tense your neck and shoulders have become. Sample some murk before getting back to work.

Visit the The Dark Side of Obscurity page on Bandcamp for more information.

Album Title: The Dark Side of Obscurity [EP]

Album Artist: Equidon

Released: 2 July 2021

Friday 23 July 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Aerography, Vol. I

Dark Ambient Review: Aerography, Vol.I

Review By Casey Douglass

Aerography, Vol. I

Mars is an enigmatic planet, one that looms large in the mind of anyone thinking about how humanity can become an interplanetary species. For a seemingly barren planet, it isn’t half beautiful to look at, knowing how remote it is from us. Aerography, Vol. I is a dark ambient album from composer Rodolfo Pitti, an album themed around Mars and a doomed astronaut mission to its surface. Some of the sounds that are used to achieve this are swirling tones, pulsing bass and electronic soundscapes that seem infused with the triumphant impression of “We are here!” even if things are going very badly for the fictional astronauts.

My favourite track is The Uninhabitable Caves of Mars. It begins with a low drone, one that is soon joined by a kind of rising and falling “spaceship flying over” sound. It feels like a cascade of pressure, with low hisses and barks possibly being the sound of ghost’s voices; maybe the beings who first lived on Mars millions of years ago. High gentle beeps emerge from the swirl, echoing rushing sounds feeling like there is movement where nothing can be seen. A dark, creeping sci-fi track.

Valles Marineris Reconnaissance Drone is another track that I enjoyed, as it is another track that had its own kind of darkness. This track opens with a rising and ominous bass melody, one that almost blares like a sinister horn. It feels like it edges into the kind of heavy you might hear in a heavy metal track; snarling electric guitar and fuzz. There is a roughness to the other tones, and flurries of sound at the edges. I got the mental image of a drone skimming the Martian landscape, each swell of the soundscape revealing the next valley or dried up ocean. The track feels a little lighter after the midpoint, but on the whole, another dark track.

Finally, Our Hearts Yearn For Something Mars Can't Supply is a track that appealed to me for different reasons. Whereas the previously mentioned tracks were dark, this one felt light, but in a strange way. After a delicate start, the soundscape feels like it spins up into a shimmering space of dancing high tones and airy “fluttering”. This combination gave me the mental image of a ball of golden light with strange mechanical red moths flitting around its surface. It felt like something flying in sunlight to me at the least. A sad track, but also a nice one.

Aerography, Vol. I is an album that creates the feeling of vast vistas on an unforgiving planet. There is a sci-fi aesthetic that underpins everything, and as I said in the first paragraph, a kind of triumphant, even celebratory feeling that seems to emerge in each track. I like this mixture of triumph and doom. It feels like the audio equivalent of someone trying really hard to teleport somewhere using only the power of their mind, achieving it, being ecstatic, and then realising that they are falling from the sky a split second later.

Visit the Aerography, Vol. I page on Bandcamp for more information.

Album Title: Aerography, Vol. I

Album Artist: Rodolfo Pitti

Released: 10 July 2021

Wednesday 21 July 2021

Dark Ambient Review: La Peste

Dark Ambient Review: La Peste

Review By Casey Douglass

La Peste

La Peste is a dark ambient collaboration between Vallée des Larmes & Catacombes de Paris, one that takes the period of The Black Death as its fevered muse. You’d think that I’d have no real appetite for listening to music themed around plagues and mass death right now, but strangely, I do. Maybe it’s because, for all its effect on the world, Covid-19 is nowhere near as bad as it could have been. If it was a virus which proved fatal to everyone who caught it however... the thought just boggles the mind.

The tracks of La Peste fall under the stewardship of each of the creators. Vallée des Larmes’ creations tend to feature distorted music and noise-filled vocals, while Catacombes de Paris’ soundscapes tend to fall into what feels more like the dark ambient genre that I know and love. For the most part, I gravitated more towards Catacombes de Paris’ tracks for this reason, but Vallée des Larmes’ are certainly something to be experienced.

Stella Caeli Exstir Pavit is the opening track of the album, and is from Vallée des Larmes. It begins with cracking thunder and a variety of voices and singing. These are underpinned by deep swells of tone and later, a high radio-like squeal. A repetitive sound-bite says “Shut your eyes and you’ll burst into flames”, and at the midpoint, a violent distorted beat accompanied by a chirruping sound agitates the soundscape into a harsher, forceful space. The smooth voices, the dark words and the harshness set up interesting conflicts, and the way that the track ends with monk chanting is very pleasing. It feels like a battle of wills and outlooks crashing against death.

My favourite tracks comes from Catacombes de Paris, and are Ritual I, II and III. The first opens with a slow, chiming beat and echoing plucked vibrating strings. There is a rasping insidious whisper, and a sparkling shimmer. Around the midpoint, there are small moments of a faster drumbeat that reverberate into the distance, and a crumping impact sounds at times. Ritual II comes a little later on the album, and is a deep, rumbling soundscape, with a high tone that crackles and distorts, and a breath-infused, droning, marching-beat infused space. Ritual III follows hot on its heels and is a knocking, echoing space, with screeching metal tones, quiet blares of sound and delicate chiming notes. I enjoyed all three tracks as they felt like three dark scenes or places. They felt deep, powerful and vast, and like strange forces were moving in the abyss.

La Peste might well be a battle between the human and spiritual elements that were around during the time of The Black Death. The voice and distorted music populated tracks from Vallée des Larmes could be seen as the human side, their words and songs trying to stem the flow of death. The hissing, mysterious cavernous soundscapes of Catacombes de Paris might well be the response from “the other side”. This notion didn’t occur to me until I sat to write this review but it seems quite apt as a way to view things. Regardless, if like me, you give yourself some kind of therapy by deliberately basking in worst-case scenarios, scenarios that make what has actually happened seem less extreme, I think you’ll find tracks to enjoy on La Peste.

Visit the La Peste page on Bandcamp for more information.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: La Peste

Album Artist: Vallée des Larmes & Catacombes de Paris

Label: Noctivagant

Released: 3 July 2021

Monday 19 July 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Exaltation

Dark Ambient Review: Exaltation

Review By Casey Douglass


I’m far from religious, but it’s hard to deny the effect that spiritual ideas can have when linked to powerful music, especially those linked to notions of death and loss. Hasufel’s dark ambient album Exaltation contains four tracks of existential angst; tracks with voices offering words of wisdom, and unnerving tones settling into the darkness.

My favourite track is Exaltation. It begins with sparkling chimes, glass bottle rattlings, and a pulsing drone that sits beneath things. Muffled music appears, the initial effect a little like what a church full of worshipping bees might sound like. Beneath this the glassy rattles and scrapings continue, the melodic music feeling far away, but not in distance, rather in reality. As the track continues, the various hisses, echoes and buzzes of activity made me feel like I was in a vast cave underneath a church. Golden rays of light sneak through tiny spy holes in the church floor above, but beneath, warped, twisted demons are constructing a giant trap, a device that will wrench the floor from beneath the worshippers and see them fall into the abyss below. I really liked the feel of this track, the holy and the perverse, the light and the darkness.

School Of The Prophets is another track that I really enjoyed. After a low undulating tone, a distant, scream-like distortion insinuates itself. A light, high tone floats a sad melody above the screams, small echoes and hisses of breath joining it. A voice begins to talk, a horn-like tone blaring behind, an om-like vocal emerging at times. Later, the track swells with crashing whispers, screams and distortions, like a thunderous force is rending reality into its constituent parts. This track has a majestic feel, but majestic in the way that a sightseeing tour of Hell might be, rather than a trip to Angkor Wat or Machu Picchu.

The other tracks had things to like about them two, but I’d say that the ones mentioned above grabbed me the most. White Mildew is a track of dark echoes and whispers that sit behind a male voice delivering a slow sermon. It’s oppressive and ominous. Salvacion is a track with a booming beat and scuttling, rattling echoes. A growing, buzzing tone rises and is joined by an airy chant, before another preacher begins a sermon, lazer-beam electronic tones pew-pewing away into the echoes. Another oppressive and dark track.

Exaltation is a dark ambient album that draws the listener’s mind to ponder the role that darkness plays in life, death and religion. For the moments of quiet peace and grace, there are hissing, scraping, rasping echoes that are never that far away. A little like the picnic of life: the ants and wasps are always somewhere if you have the awareness to look out for them, usually behind the sandwiches but in-front of the cake...

Visit the Exaltation page on Bandcamp for more information.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Exaltation

Album Artist: Hasufel

Label: Pacific Threnodies

Released: 4 May 2021

Saturday 17 July 2021

Dark Ambient Review: The Book

Dark Ambient Review: The Book

Review By Casey Douglass

The Book

Sometimes, I wonder what the state of the horror genre would be, if there was no such thing as creepy, secret books of power. So many tales feature dusty old grimoires that unleash forces that the reader cannot control... I’d sure miss the concept if it ever fell out of use. Dodenskald’s dark ambient album The Book seems to be themed around this kind of book, or collection of books.

The album art, for me, has a retro horror feel, but also a modern, glitchy aesthetic. It looks a little Blair Witch, a little Stranger Things. The tracks are all titled after a variety of books, such as Book of Blood. Whether these are separate books or merely different sections of one vast tome, I have no idea. There are five tracks, and the album is around fifteen minutes in length, so the listener can visit the realm of each book in a fairly rapid manner.

Black Book is a chimey, rasping track, one with hints of chanting, and a music-box feeling that creates a pregnant, haunted funfair atmosphere.

Book of Blood is a deep, rumbling, pulsing track. Clipped notes and an uneasy throbbing makes it seem like a distant radio is playing at a blood-soaked crime scene, possibly with strange entities watching on.

Book of Genesis is a wet, dripping track, the sound of trickling water mingling with a buzzing feedback and an airy drone. There are lighter tones, but for me, this track felt like a monster giving birth in a dark basement, the beauty of life meeting the despair of corruption.

Book of Salvation features a distant, circular-saw-like resonance and a warm drone. The soundscape undulates and feels a little watery, like watching ripples on a pond catch the sunlight. This track also felt a little “churchy” to me, the gentle tones that emerge peaceful and purifying.

Book of Silence is 54 seconds of a low, purring drone, one accompanied by distant high tones and metallic echoes. It’s a rumbling, ominous track, a little like you’d get at the end of a horror film, when the monster is destroyed and the heroes are unsuccessful in finding the last egg or cocoon that is hidden in the shadows.

The Book is a dark ambient album that takes the listener on a journey through the various stages of a possible horror tale. We pass through the lust for discovery and power, the darkness of the acts involved, the unseen consequences and the striving for peace or redemption. We even get the end of credits teaser that hints at the sequel film that may or may not ever be made. It’s an ominous, magickal, haunted album, and one well worth picking up.

Visit the The Book page on Bandcamp for more information.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: The Book

Album Artist: Dodenskald

Label: Noctivagant

Released: 27 June 2021

Thursday 15 July 2021

Dark Music Review: Anthology of the Dark

Dark Music Review: Anthology of the Dark

Review By Casey Douglass

Anthology of the Dark

Anthology of the Dark is a collection of tracks from composer Andy Fosberry, drawn from three feature films scored at the end of 2020. The films are all dark in some way, and range from science fiction to creature-feature horror. Many of the tracks incorporate sinister string tones, electronic “chase sequence-style” beats, and echoes that create unnerving feelings of space. There are also lighter moments of melody, and some interesting crescendos of energy.

One of my favourite tracks is Broken from the Beginning. It begins with a low swell of tone, one that has a rough, gyrating edge. Plinking fast tones roam from ear to ear, and are soon joined by a thumping scuffed beat. A piano melody tinkles in the darkness, and long string tones sail into the air, before the track ends with a vocal-like “ahh” tone. I enjoyed the ominous undercurrent of the darker sounds on this track, and how the lighter snatches of melody seemed to add a kind of perverse acceptance to things, for lack of a better word. The way that the strings seemed to simmer above things was also a fun extra layer to the track.

Another track that I enjoyed was Covert Reprogramming. A low pulsing tone is soon joined by another that twists up into a higher pitch. A crumpling, throbbing beat begins, and fast-paced notes that roam from left ear to right. Protracted strings bend and flow above a bed of fast pulsing electronic notes. A vibrating, buzzing tone agitates and circulates, shortly followed by a fast-paced and accelerating series of beats as something reaches completion. The track quietens into a more peaceful ending, an airy drone and light string notes the only witnesses left to what has happened. This track feels like mad science, blood-stained laboratories and mutation.

Finally, You Cannot Shut Me Down and Weapon of Choice are two more tracks that caught my attention. I like You Cannot Shut Me Down due to its mix of android voice-box buzz, its kinetic throbbing beat, its metallic, rattling thumps, and a feeling of being chased by something unstoppable. Weapon of Choice is the shortest track at 1:15 long, but I really enjoyed its gas-pipe hiss, gentle tones and slow strings.

I listened to Anthology of the Dark with no prior knowledge of the films Andy composed for, beyond what is mentioned in the album description. Taken as a compilation, the tracks seem to work well as a coherent whole, particularly helped by the sounds that seem to appear in more than one track. This helped to string things together nicely, while also allowing some of the one-off sounds to shine when they appeared. If you like horror film scores, head over to Bandcamp at the link below to listen to more of Andy’s work.

Visit the Anthology of the Dark page on Bandcamp for more information.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Anthology of the Dark

Album Artist: Andy Fosberry

Label: Spun Out of Control

Released: 21 May 2021

Sunday 11 July 2021

Dark Book Review: Creatures of Clay

Dark Book Review: Creatures of Clay

Review by Casey Douglass

Creatures of Clay

I must admit that I enjoy finding out how something that looks so perfect or quaint is actually quite flawed, fake, or even evil. Patrick Moody’s supernatural novel Creatures of Clay is set in one such place: Stark Falls. Stark Falls is a seemingly idyllic small town in the mid 80s, the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else, and wholesome community events bring people together on the streets to celebrate whatever is going on. I’m sure that you’ll be astounded to hear that all is not actually as it seems.

The events in Creatures of Clay revolve around Quinn Katz and his two close friends Hector and Wendy. They are the “Crypt Crew” and they like nothing more than spending their time writing and illustrating horror stories, and of course, reading horror comics and watching horror movies. On the way home from a street celebration, they stumble upon a house that looks like it has been burgled. What they find inside is just the beginning of their own genuine monster mystery to solve, one that sees town members abducted, property destroyed, and one that leaves copious amounts of clay and strange foot prints as its main clue.

Setting the story in a small town like Stark Falls gives a pleasing stage for a range of characters to take part. There is a tall, scary rabbi, a bossy, deaf gossip, and a group of bullies who like nothing more than picking on the Crypt Crew. The town itself is also never far from nature, providing a number of creepy environments for the crew to explore and to chase the monster. Setting the tale in the mid 80s also gives the chance for a bit of nostalgia, such as Quinn being gifted a copy of Stephen King’s It some time before it is actually due for release.

The horror elements of the story are of the creepy, “what’s going on?” variety, rather than the more explicit depictions of gore or violence that horror often contains. I also got the sense that much of the horror was meant to be in how people interacted with each other. The Crypt Crew themselves are the “outsiders” of the tale, whether due to their preferred pastimes, their religion or their family. Many of the characters in the town are also linked by a river tragedy that occurred sometime previously, a thread that puts in an appearance a number of times during the tale.

I found Creatures of Clay to be a fun read. It seemed to flow well, and the characters come out the other side as having learned a little something about themselves, and to have grown along the way. As far as my own personal taste, I do like my horror to be a bit more visceral and somewhat bleaker, but if you’re a fan of horror that is a bit more adventure-like, I think you’ll enjoy Creatures of Clay.

I was given a review copy of this book.

Book Title: Creatures of Clay

Book Author: Patrick Moody

RRP: $14.99 Paperback / $6.92 Kindle

Publisher: DBND Publishing

Published: 24 June 2021

Thursday 8 July 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Yokai

Dark Ambient Review: Yokai

Review By Casey Douglass


Sometimes, the things that are the scariest, or the most awe inspiring, are things that you cannot see. Many horrors or creature features make good use of this, cloaking a giant creature in fog, only permitting you to hear the thundering of its movements or to feel the force of its roar. Yokai is a dark ambient album from The Rosenshoul aka Duncan Ritchie, and for me, takes the notion of vast horrors being hidden and puts it into audio form.

So what does the audio form of this concept sound like? Yokai is a blaring, rumbling album, with three soundscapes that pulse and groan with unbridled feelings of power. Early on, I got a metallic vibe from things, like edited and stretched gong or cymbal clashes reverberating around ominous horn tones. There is a hissing, breathless sound too, but one coming from something massive and certainly not human. At times, there seems to be a bestial roar-like element, like some great leviathan pounding hatred into the landscape with its fists. The image that soon came to mind was of the Talos statue coming to life in Jason and the Argonauts, but even Talos feels puny when compared to the size of the creature or creation in Yokai’s tracks.

The three tracks share a decent number of the sounds mentioned above, but each also managed to give me three distinct impressions as to what was happening. For me, the first track was filled with thoughts of a fog-cloaked colossal metallic creature or machine, traipsing across the landscape. Track two saw my perspective switch to some unfortunate souls sheltering deep in a mountain cave, hearing the thumps and rumbles of the creature battling their army miles away. The final track, for me, hinted at a lull where the creature was somehow mortally injured and was somehow giving birth to its successor before it died.

Yokai is a collection of tracks themed around supernatural beings from Japanese folklore, but as you can see, my mind did take me to other places. I can certainly notice the Japanese and martial elements to the music, but it just felt so perfectly leviathan to me. A really enjoyable album, one that cloaks you in an obscuring fog, hisses at you, buffets you, and presents you with ominous swells of bone-rattling sound.

Visit the Yokai page on Bandcamp for more information.

You might also like to check out Mombi Yuleman’s Storm-Maker Red Horse as that is another album that really struck me as embodying giant beings and creating a feeling of being small by comparison. 

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Yokai

Album Artist: The Rosenshoul (Duncan Ritchie)

Released: 25 Jun 2008

Tuesday 6 July 2021

Dark Ambient Review: The Night and Other Sunken Dreams

Dark Ambient Review: The Night and Other Sunken Dreams

Review By Casey Douglass

The Night and Other Sunken Dreams

The Night and Other Sunken Dreams is an album from Underwater Sleep Orchestra, a music project that sees dark ambient alumni Pär Boström & Bruce Moallem come together to create some dream-based aural explorations.

The album is described as portraying two dreams from a single night, each with different moods and levels of menace. The music makes use of a variety of analogue processing and sound acquisition techniques, the synthesizer tones and field recordings are accompanied, and altered by, various cassette tape and VHS tinkerings.

My favourite track was Dreamt Within the Belly of a Deer. It opens with a rainy static and a high resonant tone, with hints of wind howling and flowing. Wooden knocking sounds begin a short time in, and a tone wavers and buzzes in the soundscape. This track felt “of the woods” to me, which when twinned with the deer mentioned in the title, led to mental images of rain soaked gloomy woodland, a damp that seeps deep into the bones, and a deer of course. A peaceful track, but also one with a heaviness or uneasiness. It does end with a lighter bit of melody however.

The Mechanical Hour is another track that I enjoyed, partly because it has a regularity that put me in mind of some kind of dark clock. It begins with a bouncy low tone, swiftly followed by a small echoing click, seemingly in response to the low tone’s activities. A deep bass rumbling grows, creating a feeling of being buffeted by the atmosphere. A distant buzzing drone looms nearer, a higher tone dancing around it like two insects trying to mate. A pigeon coos, there is the hint of rain or static, and a slow chiming melody begins. For me, this track felt like abandoned industry, derelict buildings and grey concrete, with nature pressing in from all sides, maybe trying to reclaim it or simply to make use of it.

Finally, A Dock of Departing Ships gets a nod from me as a track that created a great feeling of space and distance. It quietly opens with a high, warbling, two-tone melody, one that is soon joined by another smoother echo. A low tone gently sweeps underneath, a bass tone sitting below. This track has a slow, peacefully pulsing soundscape, the kind of soundscape that beautifully lends itself to imagining a quiet cove at sunset, a calm sea, and white-sailed ships almost floating out of the harbour on a mirror-like sea.

The Night and Other Sunken Dreams is a dark ambient album of peace and calm. I found myself most liking the tracks that gave me strong mental impressions, as is often the case, but even the ones that didn’t or were more abstract, provided some textured, blanketing, dream-like tones that were certainly pleasant to listen to. If you like your dark ambient ethereal, warm and echoing, you should take a listen to The Night and Other Sunken Dreams.

Visit the The Night and Other Sunken Dreams page on Bandcamp for more information. You can also check out the first part of the album below:

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: The Night and Other Sunken Dreams

Album Artist: Underwater Sleep Orchestra (Pär Boström & Bruce Moallem)

Label: Cryo Chamber

Released: 29 June 2021

Sunday 4 July 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Teloc Od Busd G'a Qaa C'a Qliphot

Dark Ambient Review: Teloc Od Busd G'a Qaa C'a Qliphot

Review By Casey Douglass

Teloc Od Busd G'a Qaa C'a Qliphot

Themes of horror and the occult are two of the main reasons that I got into dark ambient and ritual music. When you’re in the mood, nothing beats putting on some music that sounds like it was field-recorded near the gates of Hell, or at the least, at a location where some dark rite is hoping to call forth a small aspect of such. Teloc Od Busd G'a Qaa C'a Qliphot is a dark ambient album from Occult Odyssey, one that has you covered in this regard.

The title and artwork reference the Kabbalistic idea of the Qliphoth, and the album description makes mention of the dark entity Lilith. The track titles are in Latin and roughly translate to descriptions such as “Fornicating with the Prophet” and “Flame Keeper of the Ancient”. Even though I’m not overly familiar with the Qliphoth or Lilith, it’s certainly an album steeped in occult imagery and dark symbolism.

I think my favourite track is Te Gloriosus Apostolorum Laminam Carnifici (or The glorious executioners). The track begins with a vibrating, maybe horn-like tone, echoing male chanting almost hissing from the shadows. There feels like a sweeping shimmer behind things at times, and an impression of cavenous space. What sounds like a squeeling string-tone begins, and the longer this cotinues, the more it begins to sound like distant screams, probably rising up from some dark abyss. There are other tones too, a fuzzy chuntering and slow electric guiter tones meandering in the soundscape, but those screaming strings... Eerie and dark stuff.

Another track that I enjoyed was Opaca Secreta Ordinis Magistri (or The dark secrets of the Master Order). This track starts with airy echoes and rumblings. Breathy tones seem to hiss on the wind, and distant female rasping calls vie with low electronic tones. A male chant joins things shortly after, like some kind of dark dialogue being conducted between worlds. This track would certainly suit a horror film in which the unlucky victims wander into the lair of a witch, or maybe some kind of dark air elemental. A high tone that emerges around the midpoint of the track could even be the sound of a glimmering treasure chest; bait to tempt the foolish as they tread where no one should dare to enter. Another fun syrupy dark track.

Finally, I`ll make mention of Flamae Custos Antiquae (or Flame Keeper of the Ancient). This opens with a hollow airy drone and a low rumbling tone. A crackling male chant begins, harsh echoes and whispers reflecting the sound back. There are thumps and vibrations that seem to lavish attention on each ear, and swells of sound that seem to agitate the permanently softly howling soundscape. The sounds at the lower end of this track make a very ominous feeling reside beneath the apparently airy upper layers, dark swirls and pulses hinting it forces unseen.

Teloc Od Busd G'a Qaa C'a Qliphot is a rasping, hissing, chant-laced dark ambient album. The dark spaces and rumbling movements of power sit well with the male and female vocalisations; the soundscapes doing a fine job of portraying the summoners, and hinting at the things that might be listening in the shadows. If you like your dark ambient more on the occult, ritual side of things, you should take a look at Teloc Od Busd G'a Qaa C'a Qliphot.

Visit the Teloc Od Busd G'a Qaa C'a Qliphot page on Bandcamp for more information. You can also check out the track Mortem Ad Flumen Paroketh below:

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Teloc Od Busd G'a Qaa C'a Qliphot

Album Artist: Occult Odyssey

Label: Noctivagant

Released: 25 Mar 2021

Thursday 1 July 2021

Dark Music Review: Insektio

Dark Music Review: Insektio

Review By Casey Douglass


People often look to space when they think about strange lifeforms that we, if we ever meet them, might struggle to understand. The annals of sci-fi and horror are full of another alternative though, that of the insect world scuttling around beneath our feet. Insektio is an experimental noise album from Umpio, one that takes this chitinous world of insects as its muse, and comes out the other side with flakes of exoskeleton stuck to its lips.

So what does Insektio sound like? Well, it’s a screeching, popping, buzzing, clicking, rumbling, darting collection of tracks, each with its own feel. Some sound like they might be the audio equivalent of mandibles clacking and cutting. Others like insects might sound if they were somehow upgraded into weaponised military tools, like a thundering beetle-like attack chopper thumping over the horizon. I know that the album title and artwork frames the impressions that you are likely to get, but the tracks really do seem to embody the alien-like qualities of insects and their movements. It’s really fun to listen to.

My favourite track is probably the first one: Nocturnal Trigger Patterns. I think this is because it was this track that pulled back the veil and made me realize how rich the album would be for impressions and interpretations. It begins with an ear to ear screeching, rustling, thumping sound, hisses emerging from a sea of digital static. It felt like millions of tiny legs scratching along wooden beams. A high whining tone appears, one not unlike a retro 80s sci-fi UFO might make. A buzzing begins, pulsing in regular intervals, deeper bass tones giving the track more heft. Some of the notes I wrote about the images flowing through my mind included “demonic ticking clock”, “Military cockroach” and “snuffling pig eating”.

Another track that stood out for me is Asymmetrical Phonotaxis. It starts with small trills and beeps, with bass tones fluttering beneath things. After the business of previous tracks, this one felt chilled and restful by comparison. A boiling static begins, and then the sound that I really enjoyed, a sound that seemed like tens of metal cans rolling down a junk-yard pile of scrap. A dark hissing sits over things, and I half wondered if some kind of insect was using the cans as their new homes, snail-shell style. The thought of a junk-yard of tin cans scuttling around on slender legs made me smile. When the insects seize control, I hope they will be kinder to us than we are to them.

Wing Movement Communication is also a fun track, one with some very interesting sounds. After the darting fuzzy tones and echoes at the start, things turn a bit grainy, with a cascading sand-like feeling. There are impressions of scuttling, cloaking things in an itchy blanket of little legs. Some of the tones take on the aspect of a clipped elephant trumpeting call, the echoes and shrills chased by more scurrying movement. If the insects are communicating, I can only wonder about what they might be saying.

Insektio is an album that paints a compelling audio impression of a world that we often ignore. I don’t think any of the sounds could be considered as pleasant, but when taken as a whole, each track becomes a smoother kind of whole. Maybe when you pour so many harsh or strong sounds into the mix, they inevitably knock a few of the harder edges from each other. I was also surprised at the richness of the mental impressions that arose in my mind, as I don’t tend to listen to albums that might fall nearer the “noise” end of the spectrum. A fine album.

Visit the Insektio page on Bandcamp for more information.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Insektio

Album Artist: Umpio


Released: 31 May 2021