Friday 3 December 2021

My Dark Ambient 2021

My Dark Ambient 2021

By Casey Douglass

My Dark Ambient 2021

It’s almost the end of another year, so here is a post in which I look back at some of the dark ambient music that has caressed my lugholes over the last twelve months. The vast majority of albums mentioned actually released during 2021, but I included some older releases that were none the less, new to me in 2021.

When it comes to what I decided to include, I chose the albums that I kept drifting back to long after I had finished the review. Or, maybe I remember listening to them tens of times during a certain period during the last year. As I only tend to review releases that I feel reasonably confident that I will enjoy, even the ones that I don’t mention here but are sitting on this website, are still well worth checking out.

Before I get to the list, I just wanted to pay my respects to Mount Shrine once more. Cesar created some of the most dreamy and relaxing music, and I’m still so sad that Covid took him in April. His albums have been in my permanent rotation ever since I first listened to Ghosts On Broken Pavement. Shortwave Ruins is also an excellent album for winter-based relaxing, in my humble opinion. Rest in Peace Cesar.

Ghosts On Broken Pavement. Shortwave Ruins

On to the list.

Dark Litanies of Terra
Xmas is often a time when certain people listen to Gregorian-styled chants. This year, I intend to make full use of Monasterium Imperi’s Warhammer 40K inspired, chant-laced Dark Litanies of Terra (2020) and Mundus Sanctorium (2021). While everyone else can fill their minds with notions of beards in the sky, I’ll happily be absorbed into a bleak mental world in which humanity plunges into the depths of space, with a might and a zealousness that surpasses anything we’ve seen in real life.

A similarly space-based album is Sleep Research Facility’s dark ambient album Nostromo (2007). As I stated in my review, I have no idea why an Alien and a dark ambient fan such as myself, has taken so long to finally get around to checking out Nostromo. It’s like loving peanut butter and jelly and never thinking to try to put them both together. Unthinkable! Nostromo is a simmering, ominous journey through the decks of the titular spaceship, one that skilfully evokes the feelings of the film. I listen to it on an almost weekly basis.

Megafauna Rituals
After two sci-fi albums, next up is one that sends the listener back in time. Paleowolf’s Megafauna Rituals (2017) fills the ears with shuddering drumbeats and crumping footfalls as it conjures the spirit of the great mega beasts that roamed the planet during the last ice age. Shortly after I picked up this album, we had a few days of blizzard-like snow. As I walked across frozen farm-land, looking down as the snow whipped past my feet, I listened to Megafauna Rituals and it certainly added a wholly different feeling to the raw elements. If you buy this album and you are blessed with some harsh snowy weather, pop in your earphones and give it a listen as you stride out into it.

#44 - The Recluse
The Owl’s dark ambient album #44 - The Recluse (2021) is another that, at times, felt wintery, particularly the second track Glacial Beauty. #44 - The Recluse is an album that mixes warm smoothness with harsher noise, and was initially one that I wondered if I’d gel with. Well, I keep returning to it, and it’s still one of the best albums I’ve ever encountered for quieting my mental chattering and ruminations.

666 Minutes in Hell
I kind of want to move onto a heat-based album now, all of this talk of snow and glaciers is decidedly chilly. BlackWeald’s 666 Minutes in Hell (2021) is just the ticket, as it’s an eleven hour journey through the realms of Hell. Some of the tracks are as long as some entire dark ambient albums! The soundscapes give the listener a great variety of brimstone-laced vistas and sounds to enjoy, from the impression of being buried alive, to a giant infernal furnace and abyssal depths with distant cries and strange ululations. Who needs eggnog when you can mentally stroll along the edge of a lake of magma?

The Umbra Report
Finally, Cities Last Broadcast’s The Umbra Report (2021) is an album that really masters the “invisible threat in a quiet room” kind of vibe. This album drip-feeds an ominous feeling of unseen forces shifting and stirring in what could be an otherwise mundane vista. There are strange warbling voices and notes that seem to ping from vast distances, straining to reach your ear. A tense, very atmospheric album, and like the others mentioned above, one I listen to regularly.


That about does it for this year. Thank you for reading, and thank you if you are one of the regulars who often visits my website. I hope you have a good Xmas and New Year.