Wednesday 4 August 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Black Goat Of The Woods

Dark Ambient Review: Black Goat Of The Woods

Review By Casey Douglass

Black Goat Of The Woods Album Art
Album Art

It’s funny how life changes you. When I was a lot younger, if I thought about going down to the woods, my head was filled with ideas about a teddy bears’ picnic, or occasionally, my then irrational fear of wolves. Nowadays, if I see a particularly dark, moody patch of tree-covered ground, I can’t help but smile and wonder what kind of horror film or novel would suit being set there. Black Mountain Transmitter’s Black Goat Of The Woods is a dark ambient horror soundtrack that takes this second idea and runs with it.

The album description explains that the general idea was, firstly, to make a tip of the hat to Lovecraft and Shub Niggurath, and secondly, to create the soundtrack to a lost horror film, one that happened to be found in a decaying cabin in the deepest part of the woods. What the listener finds in Black Goat Of The Woods is a fuzzing, pulsing, reality distorting swirl of unsettling sounds, eclectic tones and an ever present sense of being alone with something coming for you. This all takes place on one, forty minute long track, with each change in mood or tone flowing in a way that takes you deeper and deeper.

Around the 2:15 mark, things really feel like they get creepy. A variety of low wooden creaking sounds echo into the distance, with a strange piping tone seeming to summon a rumbling, windy space. This is joined by a pulsing, electronic miasma of pressure, like something is building and pressing against reality. I liked the “woody” feeling of this section of the track as it sets the scene so nicely for a jaunt in the woods. The electronic elements add a fun dose of discord to things, almost howling or growling at times. When these give way to a period of melodic pipe notes, it feels just as strange and whimsical.

Just after the 14 minute mark, the chiming of a bell begins, strange echoes and warbles playing off the edge of the sound wave. There is an owl-like hooting pipe tone and a sense of the wind, which immediately sets the scene of night having fallen. There is a fuzzy pulsing and a low throbbing that nestle into airy rushes and electronic fluctuations. Things deepen over some minutes, and the pipe notes seem to gain a yipping female vocal quality. I enjoyed how the same instrument seemingly gave rise to so many impressions, and the bell chiming gives this stretch a nice feeling of time running out.

At the 31:20 mark, a different kind of chiming begins. This is more ritual, more gong-like. The resonance created by whatever is being struck twists and warps downwards, an almost guttural voice warbling in the confusion of sound waves. A low rumble emerges with a gritty, trundling quality to it. There is some reverb that agitates the soundscape, some hints of what might be the flapping of wings, and later, a depressing organ-like melody. If time was running out in the previous section mentioned, I think the end is here at this particular point.

Black Goat Of The Woods is a dark ambient album with a lovely aesthetic for horror fans. At the beginning and the end, there are a few minutes of music to signify the opening and end credit music, and the thirty five minutes in-between is filled with the soundtrack to a waking nightmare on a sunny, hazy day in the woods. This nightmare goes from bad to worse, with night falling, confusion as to where you are, and something sinister with a love of shrill piping notes, following your every move. A fun, dark, fuzzy, retro-feeling horror soundtrack album.

Visit the Black Goat Of The Woods page on Bandcamp for more information.

I reviewed this album by streaming it from the Bandcamp page.

Album Title: Black Goat Of The Woods

Album Artist: Black Mountain Transmitter

Released: 31 October 2009