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