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