Tuesday 19 October 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Dismal Dreams From The Witch House

Dark Ambient Review: Dismal Dreams From The Witch House

Review By Casey Douglass

Dismal Dreams From The Witch House Album Art

One of the things that I find most enrapturing about the dark gods and creatures of H.P Lovecraft, is the way that they still feel like nothing else out there, even when dragged into modern settings. Dismal Dreams From The Witch House is a dark ambient album from ElectronicDeathBlackDogs. It is an album that’s described as a modern take on Lovecraft’s tale The Dreams in the Witch House. What will the listener find in the album’s soundscapes? Read on to find out.

Wind. Not the “too much fibre in your diet” variety, but the kind that makes trees tremble and wooden eaves creak. Actually, there may be someone whose own “personal wind” does that, in which case, see a doctor maybe? Wind, whether rustling leaves or howling through jaggy openings, is a field-recording that sets the scene in almost every track on this album. I really like this. There is something ominous yet comforting about an audibly gusting wind, especially when you are indoors in the warm. The wind on Dismal Dreams From The Witch House’s tracks sets a barren, desolate scene. It’s further joined by other sounds that deepen this feeling of exposure to the elements.

There are other field-recorded sounds, such as creaking, rattling and the pattering of grit against window panes. There are also deep vibrating notes, warbling distorted tones, drones and abyssal rumblings. Each track feels like the listener is sat on the edge of a precipice, whether gazing through a window at a dark valley, or metaphysically rubbing up against forces that aren’t usually so close to our reality. Forces, I’m sure, that Lovecraft would insist that it would be better that they remained unaware of our existence.

Oppressive Nature is one of my favourite tracks. It opens with the sound of wind and a deep rumbling drone. There are small clicks or rustlings, and the simmering rattling of a cymbal. String notes grow and flow in a forlorn gyration, the rumbling stopping briefly to give way to a peaceful moment. The strings fade over time as the other sounds reappear and depart, doing their own thing. I must admit that the way that the strings seem to take an age to fade before they sing out again, only to fade slowly once more, is the element of the track that my attention always seemed to latch on to. It’s very pleasing. This track, for me, gave me the feeling of gazing at the Moon through skeletal, wind-swept tree branches.

Ominous Impacts is a track that gave me a wholly different environment to delve into, being a track that felt like it was unfolding underground, possibly in an old mine. It begins with a rumbling and a recurring distant impact. A low vibration rises in what feels like a claustrophobic soundscape. There is the metallic rattling of what could be vibrating mesh or metal sheeting, a staticy water-like sound, and after a short while, a heart-beat that echoes amongst the reverberations. This is a low track, oppressive. The relaxed beat of the heart though, suggests it’s not the heart of the listener, but the thing in the shadows that is watching.

Finally, The Cryptic Cross is a track that I wanted to touch on. It starts with a buzzing radio voice and a pulsing juddering that swells against a backdrop of hammers hitting something. What came to mind was a rundown apartment block, one that is backed by a communal green or park area. Someone is sitting, watching a crackling TV, every now and then looking out through their window, down at the construction being completed on the green. The cross of the title maybe. Later comes a guttural voice, along with a kind of barking vocal, something that put me in mind of the fishy residents of Innsmouth. Smoothly piped tones seem to round out this impression, bringing to mind a conch-blown summons and a call to the deeps. This felt the most modern soundscape to me, the images it brought to my mind at least.

Dismal Dreams From The Witch House is a dark ambient album that provides the listener with a fine dose of the trembly, insidious apprehension that Lovecraft’s tales seem to nurture. The swaying string-notes, wind and strange voices sit pleasingly uneasily in ominous rumbling soundscapes, soundscapes that seem on the verge of tipping over into rotting, corrupted deeds and events. If you like your dark ambient Lovecraftian, check out the link below to find out more about the album.

Visit the Dismal Dreams From The Witch House page on Bandcamp for more information. You can also check out the track Ominous Impacts below: 

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Dismal Dreams From The Witch House

Album Artist: ElectronicDeathBlackDogs

Label: Noctivagant

Released: 21 August 2021