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Monday, August 24, 2015

Darkrad Interview

Interview with Jana Dark, the woman behind the Russian (currently living in the US) noise/dark ambient/experimental project Darkrad who has released on the legendary Cold Meat Industry, and most recently Audiophob.

Firstly, can you give us a brief history of your project?

I started Darkrad in 2008. I was always very active in the scene, doing different things: DJing, promoting concerts with Tanzfront, doing radio shows… But eventually I started to feel this is not enough and I need something more to be able to express myself, so it just naturally happened that I started to explore the world of music making and created Darkrad. I never thought of having or joining a band, I wasn't really interested in that. I felt it should be just a one-person project and this is how I still feel. There’s just way too much, too many personal things associated with my creativity in Darkrad, and it has to be concentrated on my inner. And it was then, in 2008, when my first show in one of large Moscow clubs took place as well, which went great. The process went slow, I was very busy with other things in the scene, but eventually my attention shifted to my music.

What inspires the music you make? What draws you to dark ambient / noise / death industrial?

Anything can inspire me. Nature, people I meet, literature, art, music… I like lying down in the evening, turn on some music and put on the intimate dim lights or candles. I just like to lay and think, observe, meditate, dream away to the outer space, to the non-existing worlds. This is when I get most of the ideas and I write them down in a special book.  I like the details surrounding me, often very small intricate details. I often have weird dreams and when I wake up I write them down too. I use them in many ways. I like walking around in the streets or nature, capturing small signs from this world, trying to reflect on the messages I receive…I lift my head towards the sky, see clouds pass by and I feel myself very real. I see myself like in a movie, moving in the endless flashing of images and sounds, a lost creature in this world, searching for my path.
Dark ambient, industrial, noise and similar genres are very emotional for me. They have endless fields of experiments and expressions, merging together in one synthesis.  This isn't just music; it’s a culture, way of life.  I like the contrasts, the ability to define and stress the pure unrestrained emotion. The cold, pulsating hypnotism attracts me. It’s a dance before the death, somewhere underground, when the world outside is broken and torn apart, and one can hear the heavy pace of the approaching apocalypse and taste its rotten entity.

Tell us a bit about your studio – what gear are you using, your favorite gear, etc. ?

Me and my husband (he’s also a musician) share the studio. We have about five analogue monosynths, two analogue polysynths, an old rackmount Roland rompler… I spend most of my time with a Korg MS-20, which is controlled by a Doepfer Dark Time step-sequencer.  Along with that I use the Pro 2 and Mono Evolver Keyboard, which are both hybrid synths from Dave Smith Instruments. For pads and other atmospheric sounds I use an Oberheim Matrix 1000 and the Roland U220 rompler, both controlled by an Oberheim XK.  When I perform live I like to have a Korg Monotribe with me, along with a Kaossilator and the MS-20. And of course we have some old tape players and such, and the last but not the least –  microphones. Voice is my important gear. I’m not really a “gear nerd”… I always think that it’s not what kind of equipment you use, that matters, but what actually comes out of this equipment.

Your track “Izvergi” appeared on Wounds of the Earth Compilation 6. Can you tell us a bit about how this track came into being? The process behind it, inspiration, etc?

Initially this track was a part of the possible EP, I was working on, and it was in a way brutal and more dynamic and noisy than the latest album. I started working on it right before the album release. Izvergi is a transliteration of the Russian word, which can be translated as “Tortures”. These track as well as some other materials created together with it, are the mirror of my inner chaos happening also during creation of Little Black World. A suffocating pressure, an atmosphere of despair and misery, embracing and swallowing you. A torture of mind of body, done by those, who do not know mercy.

Your first full length was Abnormal Love, released in 2012 on the legendary Cold Meat Industry and was a mixture of dark ambient, noise, and industrial. Can you tell us about this album and the inspiration behind it?

This album had quite a long way. The title of the album comes from the track with the same title. This idea happened to be in my mind when I was filming the “Abnormal love” video in one small German town. This was during the winter and it was cold and snowing. I stretched the hands and faced the piercing snow. I felt it prickle me and tear me apart. I thought of the feelings and just let mind go. This abnormal love is a piercing feeling, something that blows on you at high speeds and hits you hard. Some small pieces, which are very strong.

Last year in 2014 you released the follow up, Little Black World which seemed to be a bit more personal in that it featured hand-made and numbered packaging. What can you tell us about this release?

It has quite some background behind. At first, it was recorded very fast. It was like a flash of emotion, striking me. Little Black World is a metaphoric resemblance of both inner physical condition and an environment around. There were changes in my life happening with my moving to the USA to a quite remote and isolated location. The feelings were gathering in me like a lump of snow. Isolation felt somehow as being stuck in a black hole. The more I felt it the more I started to realize that this devastating Little Black World isn't just the surrounding environment. It is inside me. It can be interpreted in many ways. I’m sure all of us hide their Little Black Worlds within.
I released this album on a cassette tape as part of a set containing also various merchandise items elaborated in DIY style. I wanted to retain certain privacy behind it, I felt I was whispering a secret message in a low voice and those having this personal release will hear this message.
By the way, this album was re-released on a CD by the German label Audiophob. Bonus tracks were added, as well as remixes. I’m very happy this release happened, since I was intending to release it on a CD after the tape release. Mirko – the musical mastermind behind Audiophob had seen my performance during the Wroclaw Industrial Festival in Poland and he and his partner Carsten got interested in a CD release.

Little Black World was released on cassette - a format which is coming back into vogue, especially for underground genres that focus on dark and lo-fi soundscapes. What made you want to release on this format and what do you feel the place of a cassette is in today’s musical landscape?

I like cassette as a format, I love the lo-fi sound and atmosphere, as well as special fleur and aesthetics.
Cassette can’t live long, it’s time frame is limited. It is like a book, it gets scratched, colors fade and there is degradation involved. It makes it especially unique, with its own history. Using cassette for such music styles as industrial, noise, or whatever obscure and experimental, is very organic, it is part of this music community; it has the aesthetics associated with these genres and culture.
For me, working in experimental genres not only in music but also visual arts, the choice of a cassette and a DIY packaging was the best choice. My goal was to create not just a musical release, but a piece of art, which will help to establish more sensitive connection with my audience.
I myself was active in making mixtapes and radio bootlegs both for me and friends. Those times are gone, but cassettes are still there and receive a new approach. But I believe the nostalgic aspect and being part of the retro mania hitting the world, is only a part of it. It’s not the pure snobbism or elitism (however this is present as well). This format focuses on the personality, on the actual individuals standing behind, much more than on anything else. Many cassette labels are run by young people who don’t have nostalgic feelings about it in the first place. Many duplicate them in digital form available for downloading. In search for the new, we always look back at the past. Cassette revival is in my opinion one of the ways to look for something new. What will that be – future will show.

In addition to being a musician you are also a visual artist under the moniker Jana Dark. Tell us about how you approach visual art, how it compares to the process of creating music, and how these two artistic fields coexist for you.

My approach to visual arts transforms over time. I have been active in visual arts for a long time, long before I even started music. I worked in design, interior, graphics and video art. I also paint, draw and do photography. I don’t stick to any format, tool or medium. Everything works and blends together, everything is important for me.  I’m always searching, sometimes it seems I found, and at that point of time it might be the case, but time goes and things change and I find myself in completely different states of mind and there are different things that inspire me.
Industrial music has a very strong connection with art, much more than many other genres. It basically has no boundaries, it can go as far as you can or can’t imagine. It is very organic and natural that different kinds of art merge with this kind of music. It is not just sounds, but the creation of an atmosphere in the first place, where all the senses are involved.
Darkrad is a multidisciplinary project. It’s not only music, but it is an interactive synthesis which merges sounds, visuals, texts, physical experience and performance.

What lies in the future for Darkrad?

I have quite defined ideas for the new album. It will be a continuation of Little Black World message of being trapped behind the walls that you don’t see, growing isolation and fear, waiting for the bombs to fall and start the fire. This will be an art object again, using more experiments and interaction with the listeners. I don’t play so many shows now as I used to, due to my geographical location changing and I’m temporarily away from any happenings. But changing this is a matter of time. My show program and approach is experiencing changes and I’m preparing new ideas for the next opportunities.
Sometimes I start to feel having one music project like this isn't enough, because there are way too many new ideas flowing into my mind, that cannot be elaborated by Darkrad anymore, they are just of completely different kind. Time will show whether there will be a new project or not. But Darkrad is moving forward.

more info:
[ website ]

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tabor Radosti re-issue debut album

Czech tribal dark/ritual ambient project Tabor Radosti have re-issued their debut album (previously self-titled, now called Joycamp) via Austrian label Klanggalerie. It includes 3 bonus tracks not available previously (including on the 2011 digital re-issue by Kalpamantra).

[ More Info ]

Monday, August 17, 2015

Second Look: Combative Alignment - "...And Outside Glows The Red Dawn"

I remember receiving this album back near it's release in 2005 and giving it an average review. At the time I was pretty new to dark ambient and, looking back, realize now that I absolutely did not fully "get" the genre yet. As such, I really missed out on what a solid album this is. Overall, this is a very Loki Foundation sounding album (not surprising, as they also released on Loki) and brings to mind several of their acts, especially Herbst9 - who is one of my favorites. It conjures images of a primordial and primitive earth: bleak & sallow landscapes, uninhabited forests, and cultists performing arcane rituals deep within darkened caverns. I especially enjoy the buried/murky tribal elements (percussion, flute-esque pads, etc) which give this an incredibly ancient, mystical feel. This record has sat on my shelf for almost 10 years now, criminally under-listened to...but I plan on giving this quite a bit more attention as well as tracking down more of their catalog. Definitely a must own for fans of Loki, Malignant, Aural Hypnox, etc.

This record is still available from the Malignant shop and it looks like it's only $4. If you do not own this than you must buy it immediately!

[ Malignant Shop ]

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Get This Album: Rukkanor - "Desireth"

Rukkanor, one of my favorite martial industrial acts, has released a new album called "Desireth" on SkullLine. And as per their usual, there is also a limited edition boxset that comes with an additional CD as well as some extras.

[ SkullLine ]

Friday, August 14, 2015

Aegri Somnia - "Monde Obscure"

Artist: Aegri Somnia
Album: Monde Obscure
Year: 2015
Label: Cryo Chamber
Genre: Dark Ambient
Website: www.cryochamber.com

First release on Cryo Chamber for Aegri Somnia. I'm not familiar with this project, but it seems as though he has released two prior digital albums: one on Kaos Ex Machina and one on Dark Winter - both reputable dark ambient netlabels. After the seemingly endless wave of minimal drone releases that we have received in the recent past, I was incredibly relieved to once again get some interesting dark ambient. While this record certainly fits the typical Cryo Chamber creed of subtle ambient, it is also chock full of things happening, not terribly unlike the past albums of the label's head, Atrium Carceri.

Monde Obscure grabbed me immediately. The first two tracks, "Naissance" and "Esoterique" are both excellent. Aegri Somnia masterfully crafts dreary, dreamlike atmospheres through layers of beautiful drones and a horde of found sounds & sfx. I absolutely love ambient that heavily uses found sounds - I feel this is the best way to create an atmosphere that is both deep and engaging. Even though the overall feeling is one of subdued tranquility, there is a constant cycling of new sounds to keep your ears attentive. The third song, "Les Temps Ont Change" utilizes excellent ghostly melodies to drag you into the foggy nether realm inhabited by veiled spirits. He channels the old CMI sound on "Noir et Blanc" with the use of sampled choirs (this will always score points with me). "Culture Aveugle" conjures the ambiance of a watery grave, or perhaps the distant churning of a subterranean maelstrom that you hear from within a darkened cave far below the earth's surface. There is even some tribal-esque percussion which brings to mind Herbst9. I see further Loki Foundation influence on subsequent tracks "Faux Prophete" with its strange textures molded into an almost percussive backdrop, and "Obscurite Totale" whose analog squelches bring to mind Circular, among others. But I only bring these up for reference, Aegri Somnia's compositions can fully stand on their own and do not sound like copies of any other. The truth is that I could write an entire page worth of description for each of these tracks, but suffice to say that this short review absolutely does not to justice to these works and I highly encourage you to experience them for yourself. Each piece is deeply introspective and alluring.

I feel that this is one of the best things that Cryo Chamber has released thus far, and this is exactly the type of dark ambient that I love. Exceptionally dark, visionary atmospheres created through active song composition and layers of field recordings that channel the great acts of old like Raison d'etre, Herbst9, and so forth. Each song succeeds in cultivating it's own identity while working in tandem with the other tracks to flesh out a cohesive story. Somewhat comparable to labelmates Cryobiosis and Halgrath. Definitely a must own!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Get This Album: Raison d'etre & Troum - "De Aeris In Sublunaria Influxu"

In what is sure to be one of the most transcendental dark ambient records of the century, legendary producers Raison d'etre and Troum have come together to create "De Aeris In Sublunaria Influxu" which, to my knowledge, was released on Troum's own Transgredient Records along with the Brazilian label Essence Music. I've not heard this yet, but plan to get it as soon as possible. There was also a very limited boxset of this, although it seems to be sold out already.

Here is a link to Raison's bandcamp which features the album, I am sure it is available from many other places as well. [ HERE ]

Get This Album: Wychdoktor - "Hexen"

New release from Canadian tribal industrial / dark ambient producer Wychdoktor. A harsh and darkly atmospheric album for fans of the classic Ant Zen sound. Comparisons to all the greats such as This Morn Omina, Ah Cama-Sotz, Asche, and Nin Kuji would be fitting. Definitely a must have if you're looking for tribal industrial on the harsher side of the spectrum

[ check it out ]

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Get this album: Inner Vision Laboratory - "Austeros"

After being blown away by his last release Perpetua, I couldn't wait to get Inner Vision Laboratory's new album Austeros. I have to admit though, at first I was not sold on this album. So many of the elements that I loved on Perpetua were absent: the industrial percussion, the drifting female vocals, etc, in favor of more minimalistic, droning soundscapes. However, after repeated listens I got sucked into the abyss that is opened by Austeros. Despite being much more sparsely populated, the same crystal clear production is present here which allows each sound to fully shine as they collect into a sonic whole which sucks the listener into its cavernous domain. Some really great and visionary stuff here, even if it is quite different than it's predecessor. Highly recommended for fans of cold, austere, ritualistic soundscapes.

Roto Visage returns with new video "Network"

Dark and experimental ambient musician Roto Visage has returned after his 2009 release Where The Mandrakes Grow on Autumn Wind Productions. Here is his new video for the trippy, abstract track "Network" from the upcoming full length Out Of Print. 

more info:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Kristoffer Oustad - "Filth Haven"

Artist: Kristoffer Oustad
Album: Filth Haven
Year: 2015
Label: Malignant
Genre: Drone, Experimental
Website: www.malignantrecords.com

This is the first solo album from Kristoffer Oustad, known for his work in V:28 and the duo Kristoffer Nyströms Orkester which also releases on Malignant.

I enjoyed the previous KNO release The Overlook Hotel, and that was my only reference going in to Filth Haven. The opener “Elberton 1979” feels like a similar, but slightly more minimal version of something from that album. Slow, creeping drones pulsate while a creepy, fragmented voice speaks quietly. Over time the track builds and bring and brings in sweeping high-pitched noise drones and synth warbling. While not horrible, this is easily the least interesting track on the album and initially I was apprehensive about continuing on, however the rest of the album proves to be more powerful. The follow up track “Traveller” takes the ideas of the opener and expands on them. It retains the low, ultra deep drone but utilizes additional noises and sweeps to give it a harsher, though not abrasive, feel. In the middle it subsides into a very placid drone before slowly building up into a tranquil black abyss. “Anti-Clockwise” is a stranger piece. It sounds like he went in almost a Mille Plateaux direction, adding in steady, almost percussive, clicking and a plethora of haunting synth doodling. This album feels very much like it would be at home in an art installation, especially so with this piece. This track is super deep & evocative with its continual barrage of rising and falling ghostly drones, and it is one of my favorites here. “Row Me Over” is another good slow burn; it starts off quite sparsely, but continually builds as it takes you through some exceptionally deep chthonic corridors. Reminds me somewhat of Hall of Mirrors but with much cleaner production. “Liquidator” is a decent track, but has the same shortcomings as the opener – good sounds but doesn't really go anywhere. “The Sun Maker” conjures visions of ancient tribal civilization lost in the jungle (again the Hall of Mirrors reference is appropriate), despite a number of strange sounds that don’t particularly point me toward any one mental image. Some of the high pitched doodling is annoying, but it bothered me less than I thought. I guess the rest of the components make up for it. The closer “The Arch” has something of an industrial vibe and sounds like a huge engine churning underground. Reminds me of cyclic law’s Vortex. Again, good sounds are employed and it builds a convincing atmosphere, but it feels monotonous and doesn't seem to have a path to tread, instead circling the same place for its entire duration.

Definitely one of the darker records to come out on Malignant in recent years. This album thrives on the slow burn philosophy. When you first start out on a given song it may feel empty or boring, but after you stick with it for a while you find yourself getting sucked in - then once you get to the end you realize “hey, that was pretty solid I’m glad I stuck with it”. I also enjoy the variety; while all the tracks share similar overall feel and some characteristics, they each stand out from one another; that overly homogeneous sound is something that plagues a lot of minimal drone. Filth Haven is something to check out for people looking for somewhat minimal, exceptionally dark droning music in the vein of Vestigial, New Risen Throne, etc., with an experimental edge. If nothing else, “Anti-Clockwise” and “Row Me Over” are must hear tracks.