Monday 23 August 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Mithra

Dark Ambient Review: Mithra

Review By Casey Douglass

Mithra Album Art

It’s a real pity that we can’t hop in, on, or don our own time machine and flit back in time to the periods that interest us. Actually, knowing humans, it’s probably a damn good thing that we can’t. We always seem to want to rewrite history in a purely mental fashion, the damage we’d cause if we could actually go back would probably be apocalyptic. Music is safer. Ager Sonus’ Mithra is a dark ambient, atmospheric journey back to the time of Rome, and to the time of the Cult of Mithras.

Mithra is an album that is very strong on the instrumental front. There are piano notes, strings and horns, to name but a few. There are also plenty of instances of environmental sounds and drones, delicate plucked string notes often sitting easily with the sound of the wind, or the quietly echoing dripping of water. The eight tracks of the album are all pretty smooth and chilled. Mithra feels like the quintessential album to listen to by cosy firelight.

Beneath is one of the tracks that most appealed to me. It opens with a low drone and a vocal-like resonance. The soundscape has the dripping, echoing aesthetic of a cave, with new tones and quiet pipe-like notes emerging as the track progresses. There are swells of pulsing tone, and at some points, a kind of “laughing” feeling suggested itself to me, like something malignant in the atmosphere chuckling at the audacity of humans. This felt like a lovely dark track to me, one of delving into the earth and into a different realm.

Ritual is another track that evoked similar feelings. This track starts with an echoing chiming and what sounds like distant, ghostly vocals. There are string notes, shimmering cymbals and a deep, slow drumbeat. This track felt like it was full of chittering shadows. It’s the kind of track that would accompany someone as they walk into a dark cavern, flaming torch held aloft, strange air currents carrying the distant scent of incense and dark workings to the explorer. Exploration and darkness is a heady mixture.

Mithra wasn’t all darkness and creepiness though. Dawn is a much lighter track, and one that I enjoyed for different reasons. It begins with low string tones and a relaxed piano melody. There is the sound of the wind and a bird chirping. There are footsteps lightly crunching through grass or leaves, a warbling, horn-like tone and a sparkling quality to the soundscape. This, unsurprisingly, felt like seeing the golden sunlight of dawn bathing a peaceful landscape in warm, soft light. The soundscape does have undercurrents of things twisting later on, notes and tones that create a feeling of things not being as idyllic as they appear. I enjoyed this track for this very reason, as things are never wholly good or bad, lucky or unlucky, in my opinion at least.

Mithra is a peaceful dark ambient album, one that takes the listener into landscapes and scenes of yore, mixing in the light and the dark elements in a pleasing ratio and manner. It has a dream-like, magical quality, and also the feeling of antiquity. On a personal note, I also enjoyed that it led my mind to pondering the concepts of Stoic philosophy, Marcus Aurelius etc. as this would also have been around at about the same period as the Cult of Mithras, as far as I’m aware. A very fine album.

Visit the Mithra page on Bandcamp for more information. You can check out the track Ritual below: 

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Mithra

Album Artist: Ager Sonus

Label: Cryo Chamber

Released: 26 March 2019