Sunday 25 December 2022

My Dark Ambient Album The Miasmic Bridge is Out Now!

My Dark Ambient Album The Miasmic Bridge is Out Now!

The Miasmic Bridge Art

I just released my second dark ambient album, The Miasmic Bridge, over on Bandcamp. This one is themed around the occult and is also free. The album description from the Bandcamp page says more:

A perpetually lonely person embraces the occult as a means to open up a whole new realm of connection. 

The endeavour takes years and culminates in three spirit communication sittings, held on three consecutive evenings. 

After the last of these, the person never attempts to reach out to the other side again, as like most connections, not everything that passes in each direction is to be wholly desired, or even trusted. 

Loneliness has its charms. It’s certainly safer most of the time... 

These tracks feature subtle, smooth, soul-scraping drones that sit uneasily at the threshold between the mind and the spirit.

If you decide to check it out, there are free Bandcamp codes on the store page if you'd like to add it to your Bandcamp library. You can also find my previous album, Deep Space Impingement, which is also free and has recently received a very generous review from The Dungeon in Deep Space.

Merry Xmas :)

Friday 16 December 2022

Dark Ambient Review: Dissolving into Solitary Landscapes

Dark Ambient Review: Dissolving into Solitary Landscapes

Review By Casey Douglass

Dissolving into Solitary Landscapes Art

Humans being forced to live underground due to some catastrophic event is always an intriguing theme; the experience of being held in a kind of artificial cosiness by the miles of rock around them and the technology that supports them. A notion that often goes hand in hand with it though, is the idea of someone wanting to return to the surface, even if it means suffering, misery and certain death. Dronny Darko and G. M. Slater’s dark ambient album Dissolving into Solitary Landscapes is rooted in just such a desire.

As is becoming a habit with me and Cryo Chamber releases, I can’t help but gawp at the album artwork before even mentioning the music itself. A blocky, angular black megastructure stretches into the murky depths, the only splash of colour the smeared white glass of what seem to be viewing pods or some kind of airlock. According to the album description, the weak light cast from somewhere above appears to be purely artificial, so any thoughts of glimpsing natural light through a cracked fissure on high seem to be quite mute. A moody and monochrome scene, but I have to admit, I’d happily go on a tour around such a location, as long as I could leave at some point. For me, this sets up a pleasing kinship with the hinted at protagonist of the album.

Below, I’ve looked at three of the tracks that stood out to me the most:

The opening track, The Infinity Bell Part 1, sets the scene nicely. It opens with a slow, sonorous chiming, one that’s framed by the sound of muted distant impacts, or the clunking of some kind of mechanism. There is a sigh-like flow of air and a warm, chant-like element. A raspy shimmer emerges, with a metallic scything sweep high in the air. Around the track’s midpoint, quiet radio-tones squeak and rustle in a nest of bubbling echoes. It ends with a lighter, windy feeling, suggesting a bit more space, or even the reaching of the surface. For me, this track conveyed the oppressive feeling of being deep underground. It felt both mechanical and vast, yet also hinted at a distant busyness or industry. Maybe the protagonist finds out what it’s like above ground by the end?

The next track is The Slow March of Extinction, and it carries the windy ending from the first, forward into new territory. This is a bleak, wind-blasted track, with a growing drone and bell-chiming tone soon joined by echoing footsteps on a stone floor. This feels like a ghostly track, the string-like swells, and the strange vocal calls, pushing their way through the ruined walls and windows of an abandoned civilization. If the protagonist does find any kind of breathable, liveable world on the surface, I think that this track provides a kind of reverse history lesson, helping the wanderer see what their future above ground might hold.

The final track, Dissolving Into Solitary Landscapes, rounds things off with a rainy, dripping echoing space. A low drone pulses and throbs, and there is a distant, rasping quality to the air, a little like a prolonged snarl. There is the feeling of static building, with boinging metallic plucks and chimes. As the track continues, a soft synth tone begins, with distant impacts pushing gently into awareness once more. After the midpoint, there are moments of a “flapping plastic build-up” and dispersal, joined by a stronger, wavering synth. This is another beautiful track of ruin and desolation.

The soundscapes contained on Dissolving into Solitary Landscapes include a mixture of drones, field recordings and gentle synth tones, all served up in a way that simultaneously seems to soothe and chill at the same time. There are muted or muffled crumps and impacts, sonorous chimes that throb in the air, and atmospheres at times, that seem sentient and watchful. There is a feeling of ruin and of menace, of sadness and of relief, and it’s a fantastic album to delve into on a cold winter night.

Visit the Dissolving into Solitary Landscapes page on Bandcamp for more information. You can also check out The Infinity Bell Part 1 below:

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Dissolving into Solitary Landscapes

Album Artist: Dronny Darko & G M Slater

Label: Cryo Chamber

Released: 5 July 2022

Friday 9 December 2022

Dark Ambient Review: Traveller's Tales

Dark Ambient Review: Traveller's Tales

Review By Casey Douglass

Traveller's Tales Art

The interactions between our memories and what our senses actually experienced is something that seems core to so much of our human existence. Ucholak’s dark ambient album Traveller's Tales toys with this concept by mingling technology, biology and the human yearning for exploration.

Traveller's Tales’ description frames the album as being set in the distant future, a time when humanity has been exploring what the universe holds, far beyond our own home galaxy. One of the key ways that information was gathered during this period was the use of neurotechnology to record what the early explorers witnessed and experienced. Some of these recordings became corrupted by the retrieval process, or by other means, with the resulting glitches mingling what the astronauts’ senses revealed with the darker workings of their own minds. The incomplete reports were dubbed Traveller's Tales, hence the very cool concept behind this album.

Part I opens with a sustained drone and a slightly fuzzy melody that roams from ear to ear. Ominous slow swells rise beneath, impact-like sounds heard through the mixture. After this opening soundscape, things become quieter, descending into a kind of “sad jazzy” feeling space, with whistling tones and scratchy microphone texture pops. A little later, the sound of a distorted radio voice emerges, with beeps and echoes making the space feel lonely. There are strange metallic chiming notes, an ear pulsing beat amidst a muffled clattering cacophony, and nymph-like calls in the air. Near its end, I thought the elements of the track conspired to hint at a kind of mocking laughter. Maybe the hapless astronaut featured in this recording crash-landed onto a featureless moon and lost him or herself to their own inner-critic as the voices on the radio faded to silence.

As desolate as Part I felt, Part II felt like a trip to a lovely paradise planet. There is a warm drone, the sound of waves, and strange bird-like tones that chirrup amidst metallic chiming notes. An element of discord enters by way of a distant drone that buzzes past, a speaker blaring unintelligible but somehow soothing words as it floats over. The words pulse and echo away. The soundscape changes into a deepening, fuzzy, bass-filled place, maybe signifying the coming of night. What sounds like a spaceship drive spinning up and taking off looms into awareness, and after this, things turn a little more twisted. My own impressions were decidedly insectoid, with electronic warbles and sweeps meeting mandible-like clicks and scrapings. Egg shell crackles and strange voices on the wind hint at an unpleasant experience for the astronaut. For me, this track depicted what someone accidentally being left behind on a hostile planet might experience.

If Part II was paradisical, Part III felt like some kind of trippy descent into Hell. It opens with a scale-sliding wah-wah type tone, with knocks and impacts echoing away into a vast space. There are beeps and the hint of a radio voice, and then things deepen into a quieter, brooding, droning environment. This new location feels bestial and chiming, with a kind of bouncing, scuffling quality. At this point, what came to mind was a spaceship entering an evil kind of hyperspace, much like the warp in Warhammer 40K. It isn’t all heavy and dark however, there are gossamer tones and what at one point seemed to be the space equivalent of sirens luring sailors to their doom. Maybe the astronaut in this traveller's tale was asleep in a cryogenic chamber while their ship travelled through something that triggered nightmares. Or maybe they really were in a nightmare and the sounds in this track are their mind trying to piece their reality together again.

The final track, Part IV, is a more beepy, beaty affair, with the space between memories and reality seeming its thinnest in the whole album. After the beat-laden, ear roaming radio voice opening, a xylophone-like melody begins with the sound of a ticking clock behind it. When I heard this, I wondered if an astronaut was remembering something from childhood, maybe lulled by the mechanical rumbles of the spacecraft, or whatever was being experienced. The melody suggested childhood to me anyway, but it could equally have been from a sad fun faire. The soundscape turns more crumpy and guttural after this, with whistling cries and agitated impacts and electronic flares. It seems like a scratchy, flapping space, and I can only guess what the astronaut is experiencing to bring about the sounds of this recording.

Traveller's Tales is a dark ambient album built around a concept that I really love. I find the whole idea of corrupted neural implant recordings from far future astronauts, decoded by scientists in the even further future, a fun thing to ponder. The tracks of the album all suggest different events befalling the hapless space travellers, and each track serves up a diverse mixture of textures and impressions. If I had to choose my favourite track, it would be Part II, as the way a paradise seems to turn into a fearful place holds the biggest emotional sway for me. If you enjoy your dark ambient with a futuristic sci-fi flavour, I think you’d enjoy Traveller's Tales.

Visit the Traveller's Tales page on Bandcamp for more information.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Traveller's Tales

Album Artist: Ucholak

Released: 16 May 2022

Friday 2 December 2022

YouTube Review: The Order 1886 (PS4)

 YouTube Review: The Order 1886 (PS4)

I mull over the merits of The Order 1886 seven years after its release on the Playstation 4, a game that I enjoyed far more than I hoped to.