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