Wednesday 20 September 2023

Dark Ambient Review: Anima Mundi

Dark Ambient Review: Anima Mundi

Review By Casey Douglass

Anima Mundi Album Art

Interconnectedness is a concept that can provide a great sense of spiritual peace. On the flip side, it can also lead to thoughts about how the worst or most undesirable elements of life are also closer than you might think. BRTHRM’s Anima Mundi is a three track dark ambient EP (among other styles) that brings the mystery of life and nature into energetic, musical form.

I think that the first track, Enchanted Grove, is probably my favourite. It opens with the sounds of dripping water and a low drone, with wooden knockings and breathy sighs soon joining. There are creaks and scrapes that give the impression of movement, and high swelling notes and shimmers that float over everything. There is also a peaceful “ahh” like vocal that seems to wrap everything in wonder.

What I really enjoyed about the first track however, is around the midpoint, there are beeps, radio squeals, and electronic melodies that I feel turn things a little “technology meets nature”. For me, this track felt like a deactivated android lying dormant in a rainforest glade, but something triggers its booting routine and it stands and stares in wonder at the life flooding around it.

The second track, Immortal Legacy, felt more like watching a tiny creature emerging from mud. It begins with a low shuddering beat and a rattling vibration. There is a roaming hissing static and a tone that sharpens into a razor edge. The sound of a ticking clock nestles against this high tone, before an 8-bit video-game buzz and melody joins proceedings. A great whirring begins, taking on the aspect of an air-raid siren punctuated with distant machine-gun fire. Before you know it, a warm melody begins, giving everything a “day out in Candy Land” feel.

The soundscape then buzzes like an insect-hive, and it was at about this point that I had the mental image of evolution, and some struggling organism trying to survive and overcome the obstacles of life. Why my mind went to something emerging from mud I don’t really know, but for me, this track would sit well with the images that are frequently used when talking about the evolution of man, from an ape walking on all fours, to standing upright, to walking along wearing a hat and carrying a briefcase. There is a sadness and a quirkiness to the sense of overcoming, but it’s a fun track overall.

The final track is Divine Offering, and this one features a chant-filled dark space that brings to mind some secluded temple hidden in the mountains, with monks sending their prayers up to whatever force they think is listening. It’s a deep, restive track, with a variety of tones and rhythms that come to play in its droning soundscape.

Anima Mundi is an album that takes the listener on a tour that includes both big picture feelings, such as thousands of years passing, and also the smaller concerns of one individual organism struggling in the mud. The darkness that it sometimes contains is more than balanced out by the uplifting nature of the melodies around it. If you enjoy your ambient/dark ambient music when it’s nearer this balancing point of light and dark, I think that you might want to check out Anima Mundi.

Visit the Anima Mundi page on Bandcamp for more information.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Anima Mundi

Album Artist: BRTHRM

Released: May 5, 2023