Tuesday 12 October 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Abductee

Dark Ambient Review: Abductee

Review By Casey Douglass

Abductee Album Art

When I briefly flirted with New Age instrumental music, before I discovered dark ambient, one of my favourite CDs was about UFOs and aliens. It even had a shiny-eyed grey alien on the cover. Looking back, it was quite a dark album, but if you compared it to Mombi Yuleman’s dark ambient Abductee... well, its a little like comparing a pink unicorn to a denizen from one of the levels of Hell. That’s a good thing, in Mombi’s favour, just to be clear. Unless you have a thing for pink unicorns of course.

Abductee takes its inspiration from the many stories of human and alien interaction that can be found in the Fortean media, and sometimes, in the mainstream. I dare say that there are some notions from horror and sci-fi films and novels in there too, as the subject often provides fertile ground for creepy tales to be told. Abductee contains ten tracks that seem to take the listener on a journey with a hapless abductee, beginning in a forest and taking in hurried chases, furtive exploration, and being returned home at the end of things.

Mombi does a great job of weaving in sounds that seem to embody the subject matter wonderfully. The foremost comes from a number of tracks that feature a kind of ‘rustling plastic’ aesthetic. I don’t know about you, but for me, with the theme of the album in mind, this has the feeling of something medical, something experimental going on. Another prominent stable of sounds are the hissing, beeping radio-like swirls of static and electronic tones. Technology certainly plays its role. And of course, there are those fleshy, screeching, biological sounds that hint at strange creatures and other humans nearby. These three elements meld together so well to create a feeling of being onboard a dank alien craft, a new horror lurking around almost every corner.

Cocoons is a track that depicts the creepy exploration aspect mentioned above. It begins with a swirling, pulsing sci-fi tone and a hint of trickling water. There is a faint, distant high tone and a drone that begins with a sparkle for accompaniment. String-like notes sway and flow, a light melody begins, and a sense of chittering things flying around came through to me. Towards the end of the track, groans can be heard as the atmosphere begins to judder. It probably comes as no surprise that this track conjured visions of rooms full of strange cocoons to my mind, rooms complete with victims begin absorbed into their fleshy walls.

Medical Examination (feat. Noctilucant) is another fine track, one that, for obvious reasons, felt the most medical of them all. The opening sound is the thump of a beating heart. There are bubbling sounds, mechanical equipment whooshing, and an echoing beat that seems to take on the mantle of a clock ticking. There are swells of tone and hiss. There is an impression of juddering, and around the midpoint, a hollowness. Certain of the tones seem to embody a kind of sharpness, their clipped, metallic nature sitting nicely in a soundscape of whirring, pulsing, chiming activity. Flowing beneath all of this are the deep roaming droning tones that bathe everything in an atmosphere of darkness. I really enjoyed this track.

Finally, Grays is another track that I wanted to single out, as it has a majesty all of its own. It opens with a deep drone and a sparkling chime. There are plopping sounds, strange cries and an airy, sinister feeling. A chant-like droning begins, a whistling quality at its edges. It feels very meditative, but also otherworldly, as someone might feel when witnessing something never before seen. Bass impacts reverberate and agitate the soundscape into more strange cries. A rattle-snake hissing and echoing knockings emerge, with radio swirls and a low gritty clicking. As the track reaches its last third, a kinetic, pulsing rhythm begins, tinny squeaks nestling into the wall of drone. For me, this track was about someone finally seeing the answer to a question that they had half feared to know.

Abductee is a dark ambient album that simmers with interplanetary threat, but rather than the “space will crush you” variety, seeds its soundscapes with beings that have a more personal, a more fleshy interest in the targets of their attention. The fact that they seemingly don’t want to kill but simply to experiment or alter, adds an extra layer of mystery and uncertainty to what might actually be happening. This feeling, taken with the sounds Mombi has woven into his ten dark tracks, makes Abductee an album well worth checking out.

Visit the Abductee page on Bandcamp for more information.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Abductee

Album Artist: Mombi Yuleman

Released: 24 September 2021