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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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Artist: Aeoga (@)
Title: Triangle Of Nebula-Devourers + Palace For Vultunales
Format: CD
Label: Aural Hypnox (@)
Rated: *****
Another welcomed postcard from Finnish sonic underground recently reached my desk and group together a couple of older outputs by solo-project Aeoga of Aural Hypnox founder Anti Haapapuro, who decided to re-release "Palace For Vultunales" and "Triangle of Nebula-Devourers" ten years after their previously strictly limited edition (the former belonged to the deluxe boxset of "Zenith Beyond The Helix-Locus" - just 40 copies -, while the latter was limited to 100 CD-R copies) for Stellar Mansion series of the label by housing it in an silk-screen printed cardboard artwork that include four double-sided inserts of artwork and somehow explanatory words to describe each stage of these sonic entities in between dark ambient and ritual industrial. Such a stylistic hybridization is particularly clear on "Triangle of Nebula-Devourers", whose three long-lasting tracks could let you imagine it was recorded during a mysterious ritual by likewise mysterious entities in some hidden area of an abandoned factory during which obscure energies managed to shake the surrounding elements. Despite their somehow occult meaning, the descriptions of each stage of this rite are particularly fitted to what you are going to listen and sentences like "Silvery-eyed understand the language of those who are veiled in gold/Follow the ethereal currents to finally bath with the owl-eyed" (the words to describe "Menstrual Skull Consumed" or "Luminous desert of existence/Dual-directional roaming/through five nebulous five" (the description of "Let The Sun Become Your Eye") could stimulate your imagination, but certainly less the listening experiences that Aeoga provided over the thirty minutes of his recording. The sound of the two parts of "Palace For Vultunales" ("Palace For Vultures" and "Palace For Vulcanales") is definitively more ritual-oriented, but it's likewise obscure and powerfully imaginative - its sinister sumptuosity could be matched to a sort of aural training for some larger sweeping event by previously evoked deities-.
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Artist: Midnight Doctors
Title: Through a Screen and into the Hole
Format: CD
Label: Ouro (@)
Rated: *****
Formerly known for his amazing project Hapsburg Braganza, melting electric guitar modulations, electroacoustic techniques and experimental hooks, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne-based skilled sound designer, producer and composer Phil Begg recently brought his big-band long-term studio project Midnight Doctors that seems to have been evolved by a series of gigs to the attention of my ears and my ears really enjoyed it. The emotional lukewarm wrapping of the preface of this album, the opening track "Life and Light Apart", kicks this borderline sonic experience off by melting faint rattling violins and a somberly hushed melody on guitar, piano and John Pope's double bass, which becomes more and more solemn as violins highlights the mood and drums begin to crawl over sonorities that could resemble some stuff in between Bohren & Der Club Of Gore and Roy Orbison; Joe Posset's nice tape jams and first electroacoustic entities by Begg himself ignite the following "Chump Change", a wisely crooked movement where the occasional absence of drumming seems to upset the weak balance of other instruments, which seem to find a new balance in the almost peaceful ventricular fibrillation of the following "Long Sands Black Labrador", a fragile balance that got dissolved in the obliquely sinister electroacoustic echoes and peremptory glacial percussions of "Death of Similaun Man". The foggy and raggedly seducing jazzadelic atmospheres of "Rust Coloured Smoke" opens the second half of the record, where Midnight Doctors unwind the brooding interferences and tape artifacts of "My Forsyth (Demonic Frequency)", the delicate fragile beauty of "Climatic Loss", where the big band seems to puff emotionally driven sporadic breaths into a crystalline motionless scene, and the final lukewarm intimacy of "The Slow Way Home", where the cinematic tricks that hooked listeners got sharpened by Americana-folk hints.
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