Dark ambient has its roots in both the many eras of ambient that sprouted gently back in the mid 70’s with Brian Eno (and earlier, before it was termed such), German electronic music (Klaus Schulze, Can, Tangerine Dream, etc.) with a dash of punk/goth for good measure (Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Cure, Bauhaus, Joy Division….). Its a bit of outsider perspective that often comes with ominous tones and a ghostly vortex. The scene has been inundated by the various amalgamations of the splintered sub-genre, often ending up with repetitive “mystical” tropes relegated to horror flicks and a misguided sense of concept/construct. Every once in a blue moon (or ‘blood moon’ as it were), there is a release or artist that slips through the cracks because they challenge the status quo with something the balances the real world with that from the beyond, or spirit world. These two, though capturing some of the above metonymy, may have accomplished this impossible feat of breaking through.
Moloch Conspiracy | Kur – Noctivagant (CD/DL)
As the disc opens with its title track the sombre mood is muted, as the shallow tones waft and expand, slowly creating an impression of being in a subway or cavern. Kur has been released in a numbered edition of only 99 copies of CD, from a New Mexico label we’ve only just been introduced to, though I did review the last effort by Moloch Conspiracy (Julien A. Lacroix) which appeared on Eighth Tower Records (for which we also are reviewing the imprint’s latest below). The mix here is far more reduced and concentrated than on the previous, though certain effects image flowing waters and metal shackles as if we are traveling through the annals of time and the underside of a medieval castle. Hubur has a sense of unspoken premonition that is somehow quite soothing and at ease, aside from the constant flow of water. It roars gingerly along the lowermost surfaces.
Inanna cuts the darker elements with hints of delicate Asian string melodies that drift in and out of the thick and hazy drone. Whispers are fused into the fading backdrop. As we move forward you might catch glimpses of childlike voices, bells and keyboards in contrast to the otherwise murky template. What I can appreciate here is Lacroix’s much evident restraint. Instead of hitting us over the head with emblematic melodrama, he instead tells his story on Ganzer’s Palace with subtlety in the use of a clanging bell or a slowed down passage that breathes, even if it may be its last gasp. It is an opulent, emotive track that keeps the proceedings inquisitive and wonderfully downbeat. For all the self-discipline this record showcases, there are plenty of small noir references that spice the goings-on along the way like a child’s lullaby, a typewriter and other percussive effects and obscurities.
SÍLENÍ | Long Forgotten Bowers – Eighth Tower Records (DL)
Like the previous recording, the latest from SÍLENÍ (Valter Abreu) opens with a soft and billowing cadence, but here with a slight Middle Eastern flair. From the start of The Foregone Ages you begin to surmise a drone-fueled setting that is both esoteric and mercurial. The layers spread wide and come back to punctuate themselves in the final ten seconds, almost like the effects of an old-school TV set, before the pure digital age. Though I’m a bit wrinkled browed over the title Malformed Creation, the volume is lightweight as it glides. Gradually Abreu begins to add protracted layers of resonance that only seem to generate further expansion.
Lost is a wonderfully moderated track that bridges the previous wall of sound with a bit of surface quietude at first. It nonchalantly cultivates in form and volume, but retains a bit of respite, voice sample and all. The speaker reveals he’s been lost and found. Variable harmonics ensue, as does an even deeper ill-at-ease low end on Unpredicted Encounter. The track puts observant listeners in limbo. Time and space have slowed to a point where gravity takes over. This complex sensory structure continues into Dimmed Memory which utilizes a contoured arc of swelling chords that provide the type of light one catches at sunrise. It’s an orchestral style track divided between a delicate series of chimes and a dreamy ethereal energy flowing right into The Zone. And the remainder of the recording rumbles with minimal distortions and fragile effects all fused in spumescent drone that disperse into the ether in the concluding moments of Remains.