Sunday 15 August 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Submersion

Dark Ambient Review: Submersion

Review By Casey Douglass

Submersion Album Art

I think that almost any time I review a deep underwater dark ambient album, I come away with a fresh appreciation for how dense and abyssal the depths of the ocean can be. Gdanian’s Submersion is another collection of tracks that helped me to remember this impression. It does so by creating glugging, eerie and technological soundscapes, where the listener feels like they are approaching and exploring a strange alien installation, one that sits in the pitch darkness, fathoms below the surface of the sea.

The opening track, Submersion, sets the tone very nicely. A high echoing pulsing tone is met with bassy impacts, strange creature calls and glugs of water. Floating long string notes sweep through the dense-feeling soundscape, a low electronic rhythm hinting at motion and movement. A distorted male voice begins to speak, maybe through a radio-link. This track feels like it places the listener in a vast space, an impression accentuated by the long string notes and booming impacts. I could quite vividly imagine what it might feel like to be the driver of the tiny submersible in the album art, its tiny beams of light barely puncturing the murk around it.

One of my favourite tracks was Strange Forms, as this seemed to hint at the curious lifeforms that might be down there, swimming around in the darkness. The track begins with muted low swells of tone, swells that ring at their edges and meld with a groaning bass sound that seems to ape the rhythm of deep breathing. Brass-like wind notes warble, and a low electronic rhythm echoes along. At times, there are frog-like croaks and the sound of bubbling water. For me, the bass sound in this track was of some unseen leviathan breathing leagues away. The track had a feeling of trespassing, breaching something else’s domain and wondering if it will even notice you.

From track five onwards, it seems that the submersible has entered the larger structure depicted in the album art. There are crackling sparks, the feeling of being enclosed in larger metallic corridors and rooms, and a sense of exploring something new. The track Paradox is another favourite, and for me, it brought an extra dose of sci-fi strangeness. It starts with a low rumbling drone, an echoing electronic beat and a hollow whistling. A vibrating rhythm is joined by tentatively plucked notes and delicate high tones. A rushing sound swells behind them, like the waves of the sea coming and going. This feels somehow, like a whimsical track. The title, when combined with the soundscape, had me thinking about a hollow sphere of energy in a laboratory, flowing sea-waves swirling around and around in its interior. Either that, or a room where the ceiling is covered in rippling water that somehow doesn’t even drip onto the floor. A fun track.

Submersion is a pulsing, flowing, bubbling trip into the depths. Its electronic tones and pulsing throbs seem to ping off into dark, sci-fi, watery places. The suggestive sounds that, for me, hinted at other life-forms, only serve to increase that feeling of the alien or the unknown. Submersion is also a smooth listen, and I think that it’s a great dark ambient album for you to close the curtains, flake out on your bed and nap with.

Visit the Submersion page on Bandcamp for more information. You can also check out the first track below:

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Submersion

Album Artist: Gdanian

Label: Cryo Chamber

Released: 10 August 2021