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