Thursday 10 March 2022

Dark Ambient Review: Turn Around and You're Dead in Your Dreams

Dark Ambient Review: Turn Around and You're Dead in Your Dreams

Review By Casey Douglass

Turn Around and You're Dead in Your Dreams Cover Art
Cover Art

Whenever I review a dark ambient album, there is a very high chance that I will note something down as an “ahh vocal”. Scott Lawlor’s album Turn Around and You're Dead in Your Dreams is probably the first album that I’ve reviewed in which those two words might easily describe the dominant aesthetic of each track. There is more to it of course, but in the broadest of strokes, the description feels right.

Each track features a mixture of male and female “ahh” vocals, sometimes one is more dominant, at other times, they pulse and seem to float in the soundscape, nestling amongst smoothly sweeping electronic tones, metallic resonances, chiming notes and echoes. There are also small detail sounds, such as what seems to be a wet crackling, buzzings, or even such things as bat-like chittering and insidious whispering.

Into The Dark Portal is one of my favourite tracks. The male and female “ahhs” sit alongside wispy sparkles and a low drone. At certain moments, the low tones seem to threaten to smother or drown the vocals, the audio equivalent to the atmosphere of a room thickening. This track, to me, had the feeling of a joss-stick silently smoking in a gloomy space. It had the feeling of a summoning, yet also a little later, of a hive.

The next track, The Dreams That Foreshadow Death, is another that gave me some fun mental imagery. The ever-present vocals are joined by a roaming buzz and a gnat-like high-pitched tone that comes and goes. The female vocal feels like it is sitting above the background of the soundscape too. What this track brought to mind were the scenes in The Matrix where Morpheus reveals the state of things to Neo by way of an antique television set. Scott’s track felt like this, like an old TV showing swirls of static or other imagery, with crystalline sweeps and at one point, a kind of hollow laughter in the buzzes.

The last track, The Final Manifestation of The Unconscious Mind, is another favourite for me. This one opens with the bat-like chittering that I mentioned a few paragraphs ago. The opening female vocal noticeably incorporates a few more nuances than a simple “ahh”. The male vocal also seems to have transformed into a sighing “ahhing” whisper. This track felt like it sat in a large vertical space to me, maybe inspired by Scott’s choice of cover artwork. The female vocal seems to dance high in the roof while the listener is in a murky dark place, surrounded by bats and gruff whispers. In my opinion, a fine depiction of what someone’s unconscious mind might contain as they look higher to a land that they can’t seem to reach.

In Turn Around and You're Dead in Your Dreams, Scott has created a dark ambient album that contains a sweeping, heaven-touching majesty, but one which leaves plenty of room for the darker denizens of the mind to roam. In a world in which grey areas are an endangered species, a world in which almost everyone is seeking the purity of being right or good, I enjoyed how this album felt like it embodied how things can feel when you’re willing to accept that life isn’t as neat as you’d like it to be.

Visit the Turn Around and You're Dead in Your Dreams page on Bandcamp for more information.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Turn Around and You're Dead in Your Dreams

Album Artist: Scott Lawlor

Released: 28 Jan 2022