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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

New comp from Malignant Records

This month also brings us a brand new compilation from dark ambient giant Malignant Records entitled Endless Descent Into Oblivion. This comp features 39 tracks of hellish ambience, death industrial, black noise, etc. Includes what appears to be most of the roster, including some amazing collabs such as Skorneg & Terra Sancta, Inner Vision Laboratory & R|A|A|N, Yen Pox & Funerary Call, and more!

[ get it here ]

New comp from M-Tronic

Amazing new compilation Table of Elements Vol 3.0 from IDM label M-Tronic. Features 25 tracks of IDM and ambient from acts including Geomatic, Sabled Sun, Displacer, C.H. District, Mlada Fronta, Roel Funcken, Lagowski, and more. Price is pay what you want!

[ get it here ]

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Projekt special - 10 Ambient CDs for $30 usd

I came across this neat special offer from Projekt today. For $30 usd you get 10 ambient Projekt titles. It's sort of a grab bag as they don't tell you what the titles are (various overstock items), but that's an amazing deal anyway. This offer is limited to 60 copies so act fast. For more info / to order:

[ projekt site ]

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Lingouf - "Fréquences Sensibles"

Artist: Lingouf
Album: Fréquences Sensibles
Year: 2014
Label: Ant Zen
Genre: Rhythmic Noise, Gabber, Chiptune, Experimental

In addition to being an incredibly talented artist (he does all the fabulous artwork for Lingouf, and I highly recommend checking out his website which has to be one of the best on the net), Vincent Ingouf is also quite an apt musician. His work is typically a strange hybrid of gabber, hardcore, rhythmic noise, and related genres. On his newest album, Fréquences Sensibles, he follows a somewhat similar modus operandi, though this time he gets more into chiptune and, for lack of a better term, experimental territory.

As per usual, almost all of his tracks are incredibly long - all but one track here is over 9 minutes in length, the longest being over eleven and a half minutes! While this is normally absurd for the rhythmic noise or gabber genre, Lingouf is up to the challenge of crafting music so incredibly complex and diverse that it doesn't feel repetitive or monotonous, even after 10 minutes of the same track. It's rather hard to describe any one track as they are exceedingly complex and go through many different sections. For example, the opener "Orage de Decembre" begins with a minute of near nothingness before evolving into a sort of dubby slow part which continues to build, introducing muted vocal clips and beep-y chiptune-ish synth bits before exploding into a beat heavy section. What follows are several erratic and schizophrenic sections chock full of gabber kicks and mutant synths - everything from chiptune to trance to pummeling rhythmic noise. This reminds me of a heavier version of something like Squarepusher put into a blender with Bit Shifter and Somatic Responses. Where normal music is built from verses, choruses, and maybe a bridge; Lingouf's music has bridges, tunnels, skyways, valleys, you name it. It's completely unpredictable and nonstop.  Just when you think it might be mellowing down, it ramps right back up and hits you with a wall of noise and even more bizarre, cacophonous synths. This is rhythmic noise at its most abstract. I feel that it is nearly impossible to accurate explain in adequate detail, and you really need to hear it for yourself.

Truely some of the most bizarre music I have ever heard. If the idea of very complex, mutant Gabber appeals to you than check this out! I am more familiar with his early Ant Zen stuff which I liked; this is a bit too out there for me but I still appreciate all the work that surely went into crafting this. Fans of Ant Zen who are looking for something more happy and erratic, look into this one.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I.Corax - "The Cadaver Pulse I: Sealed in a Radiant Larval Maelstrom"

Artist: I.Corax
Album: The Cadaver Pulse I: Sealed in a Radiant Larval Maelstrom
Year: 2014
Label: Aural Hypnox
Genre: Ritual / Dark Ambient

The Cadaver Pulse I: Sealed in a Radiant Larval Maelstrom is the Aural Hypnox re-release of the album, originally released in 2003 on Blue Sector. Unfortunately, I have never heard the original so I can't compare the differences. Anyhow, I.Corax is a collab between Aural Hypnox masters Anti Haapapuro (Halo Manash, Aeoga, etc.) and Jaako Vanhala (Zoat-Aon, and recently gaining notoriety for his harsh noise releases under his own name) so you know the material is going to be good. According to the press release, these sonic tapestries have been mainly produced from heavily processed natural sound sources including animals, voices, wind, and bowed instruments.

The track titles are all roman numerals and, despite being volume 1, they go from IX through XIV. The first two are very long pieces, both coming it at over 20 minutes, one 10 minute composition, and the last three being shorter at 5-8 minutes. The opener, "IX" is a long dirge through the galactic abyss. I feel that it transports me out into the stars to float amidst the darkness between these fiery spheres. It's pretty good and suitably meditative, though I actually find it to be one of my least favorite on this album. I find a stronger connection with the second track, "X". This one has a more dense, earthen feel to it and I feel like I am sitting in a crumbling shrine made of soil and clay. Over it's duration it carries the listener through myriad sonic terrains which all retain a bit of the aforementioned vibe. "XII" is probably my favorite one here - the droning pad and crackle of ritual percussive tools reminds me quite a bit of old Desiderii Marginis. This is another powerful offering that conjures the atmosphere of a remote mountain lodge. "XIII" is darker and more experimental, incorporating some strange & hard to place synth-y cackling amidst the cosmic transmissions. The album ends with "XIV" which feels like exploring damp clay tunnels under the earth, lit only by the light of your solitary torch. There is a lot going on in this track and it's another one of my favorites on the album. It surprises me to find out that this was originally created in 2003 as, to me, it sounds as good as anything else I've heard from this label. I guess they have tapped in to a sort of timeless ritual sound that will always be aurally pleasant and captivating.

More solid ritual drone/ambient from the guys at Aural Hypnox. Predictably, The Cadaver Pulse I sounds like a cohesive mixture of the individual styles of Aeoga and Zoat-Aon. This is a little more active than the recent Aeoga album but inhabits a somewhat similar sphere of sound (probably more similar to the older albums Coav and Zenith Beyond The Helix Locus, but I haven't listen to those recently so I can't recall), and it shares similarities with the first Zoat-Aon release, Star Autopsy. Ironically, 2013 saw the release of a project called Arktau Aon which is another collab between these guys. That said, The Cadaver Pulse I will definitely will please fans of the label and the style. I'm glad to hear more material in the vein of Zoat-Aon as that was always one of my favorite projects on the Aural Hypnox. This album makes me want to check out more I.Corax material.

Siamgda - "Tremors"

Artist: Siamgda
Album: Tremors
Year: 2014
Label: Ant Zen
Genre: Tribal

Siamdga has an interesting story. It is the project of Marc Fischer who lives (lived?) in Nepal and studies Indian classical music. He combines traditional music & instruments, namely the tabla, with electronic and industrial music. As a lover of tribal and ethnic/world influenced industrial music, I was very intrigued by this project. Unfortunately, it did not deliver.

Let me start by saying that on the upside this album features some really great and genuine tribal elements. Siamgda utilizes compelling drumming and fitting vocal samples. The core elements used are rather good and have a lot of potential, however the album is ultimately a huge let down. Even as a staunch lover of tribal industrial, I can't get into this. The two major issues are 1. The lack of songwriting and 2. Bad production. The issue with song writing is that it does not feel like there is any. All of these tracks feel like simple sketches without any development on whatever idea they are pursuing. They are mostly unchanging loops of the same thing repeated for the entire song with very few change ups or additional sounds added to the mix. In many ways it reminds me of Muslimguaze - the lo-fi atmosphere, the simplistic composition, the live feel; except that MG had the excuse of creating his material 20-30 years ago with far worse technology. The production on Tremors is, to put it bluntly, really quite bad. Many of the elements are muddy and it becomes hard to discern exactly what is going on in any given piece. The spectrum is generally unbalanced as well, with almost all the content inhabiting the mid range and very little low or high frequency material (i.e. there is no driving kick drum or anything) - this causes the music to be both sloppy and annoying to the ear. Like Muslimgauze, this sounds like it was created 30 years ago, except without any of the "good" qualities that people are looking for in that kind of aged sound - instead it just sounds very amateur, like the guy has no idea how to properly record or mix music. Now, maybe there is some sort of legitimacy to these tracks because they display a level of pure ethnic music, or maybe these patterns are musically significant to classic Nepalese music; either way it makes no difference because it is not enjoyable to listen to.
The problems with the album are evident immediately from Track 1. The intro track is a spoken word teaching accompanied by a drone; however the vocals are processed in such a way that makes them sound garbled and hard to understand, and the backing texture just plays the same thing for the entire 5 minutes, causing the track to drone on and on, feeling incredibly long and pointless (completely destroying the intended purpose of having people listen to & take in this wisdom). Now, I am all for some poignant spoken word, but the musician must remember that their material needs to be entertaining first and foremost, and as such they must write the track in such a way that the backing audio material is captivating and the voice is clear & sucks the listener in. Anyway, that's pretty much how the rest of the album goes - repetitive ideas that don't develop or take off and bore the listener instead of engaging them in or transporting them to another world. As mentioned, this is mostly comprised of tribal drumming and vocal samples, although there are bits of warbling synth (ex. "Tremors") and the occasional bit of a sort of poor man's attempt at the ant zen noise/crunch (ex. "Oracle"), but neither add anything to their respective song and kind of feel out of place alongside the drumming and instrumentation.

Honestly, I'm pretty disappointed that Ant Zen would release this after giving the world some of the absolute best tribal industrial acts of all time including This Morn Omina and Tzolk'in. Now, like I mentioned above, there are some good and, dare I say, great elements within this music. These could be utilized to incredible result if put in the hands of a decent songsmith - for example, if TMO was given this source material the result would be colossal. My suggestion is that Siamdga focuses on improving songwriting / structure / progression and learning how to craft a track with depth that goes somewhere, rather than just loops indefinitely. I can't see myself ever listening to this again. I guess if the idea of a worse Nin Kuji interests you than give it a shot, otherwise avoid.  For this kind of sound I'd instead recommend checking out the excellent Tibetan influenced project Svasti-Ayanam (side project of Raison d'etre) which I feel captures that dark, ancient, authentic tribal sound much better than Tremors, or the most recent releases from Tzolk'in, The Sixth Sun, or Ah Cama-Sotz, Obsession Diabolique, both albums that make use of traditional tribal percussion with absolutely visionary, mystifying results.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Darkrad - "Little Black World"

Artist: Darkrad
Album: Little Black World
Year: 2014
Label: Mrakmur
Genre: Death Industrial, Dark Ambient

Little Black World is the newest release from CMI alumni Darkrad. This comes as a cassette and is limited to 50 copies (though also available digitally). Here we find Darkrad exploring deep, hellish nightmare realms.

Perhaps not exactly what you'd from someone affiliated with CMI, this release inhabits the darkest & most disturbing sectors of the human psyche and is much closer to lo-fi death industrial (although it has a"lo-fi" feel, it features solid mastering from Flint Glass's Gwen Tremorin).
Side A seems to be more focused on gloomy atmospheres. It opens with "Chernota" which is a four and a half minute dirge of the utmost decay and blackness. "Nobody Knows" and "Feel the Blood" are similar; languidly moving amorphous black masses of sound wash over the listen and drench them in filth. The listener is taken to the dank, lightless sewers of the the abyss within. There are what sounds like very effected vocal bits here and there - like transmissions from a mental asylum in hell. Would be fitting for something like Silent Hell, or your nightmarish horror location of choice. The A side ends with "Someone Beneath" which is the first song I don't really like, too murky and formless for me, it's hard to make out if anything is really going on.
The B side is harsher and utilizes more feedback and noise - it reminds me of Malignant act Deathstench (although there is no black metal here). "Dread Unknown" and "Ocean Beckons" both utilize that wall of black noise sound, immersed in reverb. There are more vocals (I think) here, equally effected and indecipherable. I think it would be nice to hear this material with more discernible, up front vocals although it's not bad as is. "All is Wrong" harkens back to the sound of the A side tracks, but is more minimal with a steady ritualistic beat. The final track, "Rasshelina", is the first to introduce melody -- which I quite like. It doesn't change much, though I found myself liking it anyway. It feels like a lull in a nightmare where you can almost appreciate the beauty of all the horrible structures encircling you.
The tracks are all fairly short; generally 4 minutes and under. This is appropriate since none of the tracks have all that much progression, instead they get right to the point and end before wearing out their welcome.

Super dark and scary material. This material is absolutely fitting to be released on cassette tape and I think it will please fans of that lo-fi, ultra black ambient sound. Make sure to listen to this on a system that can accurately reproduce the critical low end which makes up the bulk of this tape. Put it on in a pitch black room and face your demons. One to check out for fans of Malignant, Danvers State Recordings, and similar lo-fi death industrial/PE leaning labels.

Grauraum releases free album of b-sides

Industrial/IDM project Grauraum (a.k.a. Hotaru Bay, both of which have releases on Raumklang) has released an 9 track EP of material which did not fit with his upcoming album. There is some really cool industrial and industrial-leaning IDM-ish stuff here. Check it out, pay what you want.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Skadi - "Enemy Within"

Artist: Skadi
Album: Enemy Within
Year: 2014
Label: self-released
Genre: Dark Ambient, Tribal

Normally, I don't bother much with covering self-released material on here - there just isn't enough time for the millions of projects out there. However, every so often something incredible makes its way into my ears and I feel compelled to write about it. Skadi is just such a project. I was turned onto his work by a friend not too long ago and immediately proceeded to get everything he had available on his bandcamp. This month brings us his newest album (and, I believe, first new work in quite a while, the other recent albums are re-releases) called Enemy Within. This album sees a continuation of his typical sound: a combination of early/mid Raison d'etre and similar time period Ah Cama Sotz's dark ambient material.

The album opens with "The Labyrinth" which is a pretty typical Skadi track: it begins with a long droning section which brings to mind the opening of a great pit in the earth. The track slowly builds with the addition of sporadic drum hits and buried choir-esque sounds. About halfway in, the piece opens up into a full tribal beat accented by similar ethnic motifs and a beeping synth which conjures mystical & darkened desert vibes (think 10 Years Bat Vibez but a bit more on the ambient end of the scale). "Path of Despairing" is a much more minimal, meditative piece carrying the same general mood - dark and fiery caverns in the desert. "Path of the Tormented" begins in a similar manner, though it builds into a series of powerful, distorted drum hits mixed with a tranquil melody giving it a dreamy, surrealistic feel - like you're being enveloped by light radiating from the edge of some majestic scene. "Path of the Abandoned" harkens back to old Raison d'etre with it's murky sacral elements: heavenly pad and very subtle choirs. This one feels like being in the ruins of a cathedral, it's walls parched & sun-bleached; it's halls buried under time and sand. "Path of the Lost" successfully melds the sacral vibe with the earlier tribal vibe. It again uses the highly melancholic choir-esque pads which bring to mind an ancient, crumbling gateway to the divine, and mixes them with tribal drumming similar to the first track on the album. The album comes to a close with the 11 minute "Path of the Dead". This is the most minimal track on the album and takes some of the aforementioned sacred elements and strips them down to their bare essence. It feels like the journey of the dead between living and the next world.

Another solid release for a highly under-appreciated project. Very well crafted and evocative stuff. This is definitely pro quality stuff that would be right at home on any major dark ambient label, don't let the fact that he self releases fool you. I hope that more light can be shown upon this work and that people will take notice because it is more than worthy. Enemy Within is something that needs to be heard by dark ambient fans.