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