Wednesday 27 September 2023

Dark Ambient Review: Mørketsland

Dark Ambient Review: Mørketsland

Review By Casey Douglass

Mørketsland Album Art

The technological progress of the modern world is amazing, but it can also feel oh so feeble. Our days are filled with the tedious “Marimba” of iPhones and the steady beep-beep of drip-fed pseudo approval from strangers. When held up against the heady, tangible world that the Vikings lived in, the present day appears to be little more than the cellophane wrapper on some tasty roasted boar meat that’s about to be offered to the Nordic gods. Mørketsland is a dark ambient album from ProtoU & Oljus, one that tears through the cellophane with its teeth.

Mørketsland contains echoing ritual drum beats, deep drones and eerie spirit-laced echoes that seem to bounce around a harsh, weather-swept landscape. Wind howls and swells, rain patters and drips, and distant thunder rumbles ominously in a pleasing, distant way. Every track of Mørketsland is a darkness-bathed, drum-fuelled homage to the Vikings, with the rites and chants being enacted by the voices almost certainly finding their way to the gods that they hope are listening.

I think that Spirits of the Water is probably my favourite of the seven tracks on the album. It begins with a low, slightly vibrating drone. A bell-like chime agitates the soundscape and a low chant begins. A slow echoing drumbeat is there also, and some strange little bird-like tweets. What sounds like distant thunder cracks in the distance, a ghostly vocal insinuating itself shortly after. Later, there are impressions of wind and waves, strange intonations, and as the drumbeat intensifies, a very deep vibrating tone. For me, this track felt like it was depicting a longboat out on open water, a moonlit fog enshrouding everything except the immediate blackness of the waves.

Wall of Thorns (ft Ager Sonus) is another track that really got my attention. It opens with low echoing drumbeats in a howling airy soundscape, the scratchy pattering of rain filling the ears with threat. There are rustles and creaks, and these are soon joined by a plucked melody and morose pipe notes. The soundscape slowly ratchets up into increasingly booming drum beats and ever busier howls, cries and swells of wind. The plucked melody, taken with the other elements of the track, gave me Witcher 3 or Game of Thrones flashbacks, which is a fun thing to return to.

All of the tracks of Mørketsland transport the listener into dark primal soundscapes, the kind of space in which the ritual drumbeats lend a trance-like energy to the swirling chaos and hardness of the landscapes hinted at. If you like your dark ambient to give you the impression of sitting in the firelight while the ever darkening shadows beyond its limits press every inwards, you might want to check out this album.

Visit the Mørketsland page on Bandcamp for more information. You can also check out the Spirits of the Water video below:

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Mørketsland

Album Artist: ProtoU & Oljus

Label: Cryo Chamber

Released: May 2, 2023