Friday 8 September 2023

Dark Ambient Review: Internal Winter

Dark Ambient Review: Internal Winter

Review By Casey Douglass

Internal Winter Artwork

There’s a pleasing irony in listening to music titled Internal Winter when the sun is shining brightly outside and the air is humid and heavy. Not only does it contrast in the most obvious of ways, but the meaning deepens when you consider how our internal landscapes can be so at odds with the external world. Examples of this might be someone contemplating suicide while smiling in the midst of their own birthday party, or someone else sitting alone on an isolated bench at the coast, happier than they’ve been for months as they watch the grey storm roll in.

G. M. Slater and Rojinski’s Internal Winter is a dark ambient album themed around “five journeys through inner demons, conflict, and turmoil” and is the perfect accompaniment for those moods when the difference between the internal and external is so great that you just want to laugh or cry in astonishment. It’s a dark and ominous album that’s full of thick, brooding soundscapes, with a wind-blasted droning and chiming aesthetic.

I think that the first track, A Blanket of Shadows, is my favourite. It opens with the sound of a gale and what sounds like echoing footsteps. There are wooden creakings and rustlings, punctuated by the occasional shrill whistle of the wind finding small cracks to howl through. Low tones and drones begin to sound at intervals amidst the crackling static of what might be snow on frosted windows. A faint chiming drone sparkles higher in the air, lending a notion of some light to what feels like a dark and decaying scene. The track grows more aggressive as time passes, with various of the tones and wind noises ramping up to create the precarious feeling of a tipping point being flirted with. I would say that the album artwork of the decrepit snow-covered house was designed for this track.

Tunnel of Disillusions is another track that stood out to me, as when I listened to it, I noted down that it felt like a hellish trip to Narnia. It begins with a reverberating chime and soft choral feeling, but soon deepens to create the sensation of being enveloped by a cacophony of whispers and voices. It feels claustrophobic and dark, with sharp-edged tones cutting the air. The insect-like vibrations sit alongside bell-like tolling, and things just seem to go down and down and down. Around the midpoint, things open out again, and I felt like I’d emerged from the tunnel mentioned in the track title. It feels a little like emerging into the farm of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre family, in tone at least. The heartbeat like rhythm and door slamming beat certainly rub nicely against the ahh-like drone floating above them.

Internal Winter is a fun journey into the shifting miseries of the human psyche. All of the tracks felt atmospheric and gritty, with enough elements of softness to prevent them from feeling a little too unrelenting. I felt that the higher drones and chimes lend a notion of looking for help from some higher power, while the lower elements do well to keep the listener mired in the mud and the murk. If you like your dark ambient heavy and questing, you’d do well to check out Internal Winter.

Visit the Internal Winter page on Bandcamp for more information.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Internal Winter

Album Artist: Slater & Rojinski

Released: March 24, 2023