Music Reviews



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Artist: Troum & Raison D'Être
Title: De Aeris In Sublunaria Influxu
Format: CD
Label: Essence Music (@)
Rated: *****
The meeting of Raison d'être, the industrial ambient brainchild of Swedish sound maker Peter Andersson named after a thought by Carl Gustav Jung - a major source of inspiration for the mental and introspective journeys that its listening could inspire -, and Troum, the well-known project by Bremen-based duo of drone architects Stefan "Baraka(H)" Knappe and Martin "Glit[S]ch" Gitschel that according to many listeners could be considered as the proper follow-up of their previous brainchild Maeror Tri, is one of those rare events, which can only deliver heady efflorescences and this sonic blossoming is so well accomplished that "De Aeris In Sublunaria Influxu", which required four years of making, has the potential to be considered the proper masterpiece of respective discographies. The opening "Folia" could let you imagine they get closer to the shamanic nuances of more ritual-oriented relics of the genre, but the dynamics of the following long-lasting suite "Alio Tempore", where the slow repetition of highly reverberating bell and a very low thundering frequency got gradually submerged in an ecstatic overflowing pad-synth, which fills the sonic space, pushes listeners towards cosmic primeval wanderings by a planing organization of sound, whose "cath/ar(c)tic" effect seems to get reprised in the shortest delight provided on "Flammae", which follows the mystical heart of the release, the almost 40 minutes listening offered by the triptych of "Oculum Mundi" - sounding like the sonic mirroring of the boiling primordial ooze, getting electrified by some superior being for the creation of some universe -, "Atmosphaera" - the harmoniously confused amalgam of shining and gliding elements that seems to give a voice to the admirable miracle of creation - and "Meditationum", whose 20 minutes of dilating harmonies evoke the making of each (known and unknown) physicochemical state, and precedes the final "Ad Infinitum", which cannot be considered a proper final act, but rather the necessary junction of a looping cycle which doesn't really have an ending moment...
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Artist: Wordclock (@)
Title: Self Destruction Themes
Format: CD
Rated: *****
Wordclock is the project of Pedro Pimentel and his new release is presented as inspired by "images of a world depopulated and of overgrown and dilapidated cityscapes". The first noticeable element in this release is the use of cello and piano so it borders territories closer to modern classical in the framework of the usual ambient structure of the drone texture.
The soundscape of "Here we'll be Gone" opens this release creating a canvas for the string instruments whose use generates a fissure. "The Fever of our Waiting" starts quietly and generate a sense of suspension partially resolved by the ending noisy drone. "It May Come" is a short and quiet track based on a couple of piano chords and sparse notes of cello. "When Indecision Strikes" is based on a couple of slowly evolving drones ending with a piano chord. "Something More" is instead based on texture rich soundscape and a string drone. "More often than not" is an interlude based on a loop and a string musical lines that is the base for "Every Shade" in a rich dialogue with the soundscape in the background. "Something Else" starts with the recording of a vinyl crackle and evolve with a synth drone. "32 Walls" features a beat and some almost inaudible voices to generate an evocative sound palette. "Lack of Language" closes this release with a beat and a catchy synth melody.
The peculiar quality of this release is the variety of musical solution so it spans to almost classic dark ambient territories to even synth pop in the final tracks. It's a release enjoyable for almost everyone.
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Artist: Council of Nine
Title: Diagnosis
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
This new release is shortly presented by the label as a "release in the style Council of Nine is known for with a healthy dose of both beauty and sadness". The basic structure of all track is the sequence of drones shaped using filters to enhance space and resonance and this process underline the evocative character of the overall sonic spectrum.
"Rite of Passage" opens this release using the resonances of layers of synth generated drones. After a quiet start, "Memories are fading away" develops a sense of movement using the aural space to place the drones. "Sedation" is the most menacing track as it features almost inaudible voices in the background. "I can see the fear in your eyes" and "Void of Regret" are focused on a single drones whose tonic is slowly evolving while the effects are used to set a moving background. "Riddled with Guilt" use the drone as a texture while the development of the track is based on sparse noises and short melodies. "Fragments of Myself" closes this release with an emphasis on the resonances of drones and samples.
While there's a considerable craft in sound construction, a lack of writing has the effect that all tracks are based on a single structure so the overall effect is a little boring however the headphone listening reveals an exceptionally clear aural field. Received with mixed feelings.
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Artist: Ugasanie (@)
Title: Eye of Tunguska
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
This new release from Ugasanie is based upon an incident happened in Tunguska's meteorite impact site. The musical structure seems to evoke a sort of movie as, above the drone, a bunch of samples are used to generate this sense of narrative that borns from recognizable sounds like water dripping or stone falling.
'Swamps of Tunguska' opens this release with a track based on a soundscape made out of various samples from perhaps field recordings. 'The Taiga' uses two main drones to create a recognizable frame. 'Epicenter' and 'Lonely Winter Hut' are almost classic dark ambient tracks based upon layers of drones and some sparse samples in the foreground. 'The Phenomenon' starts quietly and ends in a noisy way mixing the texture and the samples in a dialectic way. So 'Through the Woods' uses the field recordings in the first part and the drones in the second one which are also the base for 'Last Night' while 'Abandoned Base' is an abstract track developed from the resonance of the samples. 'Attempt to Contact' feature distant radio voices from a sci-fi movie, or so it seems. 'The Bodies under the Snow' closes this release with an handful of drone in sequence.
Even in a codified, and overtly recognizable, musical structure the development of sound spectrum is so carefully constructed to give the sensation to see a sort of movie without images. It's worth a listen for all fans of the genre.
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Artist: Noctilucant (@)
Title: Back to the Mud
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Noctilucant is a cinematic dark ambient project hailing from Wisconsin and 'Back to the Mud' is Noctilucant's debut album. The name is sort of derived from (noctilucent) night clouds with a ragged edge of brighter and pervasive polar cloud layer in the upper atmosphere visible in deep twilight. It appears that the musician behind Noctilucant wishes to remain anonymous, at least for the time being. Adds to the mystery I suppose. Noctilucant is a rather recent arrival on the scene, this album having been created over the summer of 2015 and released in September. I can say without reservation that 'Back to the Mud' is some of the finest, chilling, smooth (as opposed to the noisy, abrasive kind of) dark ambient music I heard of late. The thirteen tracks on this disc explore various aspects of Noctilucant's somber and gloomy world (or the destruction of it), but it flows together as a complete work.

Of course, there are drones galore on 'Back to the Mud' but I wouldn't necessarily call it a "drone album". Right off the bat on "Befalling Silence" there are shades of Raison D'être and Lustmord , with a haunting, mournful, wordless vocal (courtesy of Kara Philips of the
Epic/Majestic/Power/Symphonic Metal band Magma Dragon), underscored with sustained strings and a delicious mix of drones, from deep rumbling to discreet whistling. It ends with what sounds like a train passing by in the distance. Noctilucant introduces a high, delicate
melodic component in the following track, "The End (It's Near)" over the rumbling, with brief spoken words (the title) at the end. "The Upheaval of Society" is a truly chilling piece, apocalyptic, like anguished souls swirling around in a blender. Kara returns in "The
End (It's Near) Part II" with a typewriter as if she's the correspondent in this cataclysmic horror story, of what man, not some unseen god has wrought. The melodic element from the first "The End" reprises as well. "TwoFiftySixAnteMeridiem" is a heavy and oppressive industrial-tinged dark ambient piece with a certain sense of motion. "The Deep Dead Hour" introduces a death knell bell tolling into its doom-laden atmosphere, and then we get a clipped and staticy broken radio transmission by someone on the scene of the disaster, and succumbing to it. A little too Walking Dead/Blair Witch Project for me. Fortunately, it's fairly brief. Things get better on "Dawn / The Feast." the second longest track on the album at 11:35. The light touch used on the sonics of most of this track serve to heighten the creepy factor immensely. It ends with a rainstorm that breaks the tension a little. What you might have thought was rain morphs into vinyl record ambience on "No Light To The Sight That Cannot See" but quickly dissapates. A brief spoken word ("one day we're gonna look back on all this, and we're gonna say...do you remember when the world ended?") with a cloud chorus of mysterious angelic voices as the gates of heaven close. "Signals From The Sky" seems to be a transitional drone piece. "Are We Safe Now?" gives the impression of a campfire out in the woods; some type of brief respite from what may have happened in a world gone to hell. "The Cusp Of Catastrophe" features vocals and electronics by Jeremiah Messner (HollowHecatomb, JM Sundown) with a weird mechanical melodic loop over the dark drones. This is a very disturbing piece that builds in intensity until it sinks back into the miasma. I don't know where Messner's vocals were in that piece, but the credits say they were there so I guess they were. Title track "Back to the Mud" is the longest on the album at 14:01. It begins very, very subtly and low key, and dwells there for a good long time. Kara again provides some wordless vocals briefly, that add an interesting texture to this bleak soundscape. Later in the piece her vocals return singing "New York, New York" (yep, THAT song) in a deeply chambered environment until the needle rips across the record. Perhaps the last remnants of humanity. I'll leave the short spoken vocal that heralds the final track, "Tender Womb|Callous Tomb" a surprise for you, but the way it all ends dissolved in droney ambience and childish hiccups of laughter shouldn't come as much of a surprise.

For a first outing Noctilucant has created a fantastic album that rivals the work of Peter Andersson, Lustmord, Robert Rich, Vidna Obmana, Desiderii Marginis, and other big names in the genre. Malignant ought to sign this project right now! What I didn't like on 'Back to
the Mud' is so minute compared to the whole. I also have the feeling that this can grow on you over time. The album is packaged in a sturdy 6"x6" black envelope and sealed with wax. The CD itself is held within a slimline case with double-sided inserts. Limited to 100 copies, hand-numbered in metallic ink. The cost is a measly 7 bucks, but if you act NOW you can get it for $4.00 until the end of the year (December 31, 2015). WHAT? Is that insane??? It must have cost more than that to make it, and it's worth several times the price. You'd be a fool not to buy this. Highly, highly recommended.
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