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Friday, May 27, 2016

Wounds Of The Earth DJ Mix 13

This is a mix of some weird and obscure stuff that I own but don't listen to often. I thought it would be a good excuse to pull these records out again - I'd forgotten how much I like some of this stuff. Lots of cool short lived and/or side projects on display here: Project Arctic (side project of This Morn Omina & Empusae), Konau (side project of New Risen Throne), Evan Bartholomew (dark ambient side project of Bluetech), Squaremeter (dark ambient side project of Panacea) and so forth.

DJ: Dan Barrett
Genre: Dark Ambient, Ritual, Experimental

Caithness - Faces and Shades
Wolfskin - The Yew Column
R|A|A|N - Arrival Of The Sek
Project Arctic - The 88th Parallel
Squaremeter - Acr Flow
Konau - Sadness Embrace
Inade - Genius Loci Pt. IV
Evan Bartholomew - Soft Spots In The Tyranny Of Matter
Roto Visage - Willows Deep
Combative Alignment - Part Two
Endvra - The Left Hand Of The Dead
Profane Grace - Transmutation Of Flesh Into Dream

total time: 55:10

listen @ mixcloud ]

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Phonothek - "Lost In Fog"

Artist: Phonothek
Album: Lost In Fog
Year: 2016
Label: Cryo Chamber
Genre: Dark Ambient, Avant-garde
Website:  cryochamber.bandcamp.com

Cryo Chamber brings us another debut release of an unknown project, this time from Georgian project Phonothek. I don't know anything about this project, but immediately can tell that it's something a bit different for the label. Also, that cover art is amazing.

It's nice to hear Cryo Chamber bring on another project that writes interesting/active ambient. I find it hard to classify Phonothek as their songs contain innumerable varied elements, but to attempt to put it concisely: it's dark ambient with an avant garde slant to it. I saw a post describing this as "ambient / jazz" and I guess that's somewhat fitting - sort of foggy, disembodied jazz-esque bits dot the otherwise snowy, tranquil landscape of this album. Overall, the songs tend to contain beautiful sleepy, droning textures, but they are also chock full of numerous other sounds from piano, to ghostly voices, to sfx, to glitchy textures, to bells, to distant horn-esque sounds, and so on. There is never a dull moment in any of these tracks. For the most part the songs are really good (e.g. "Last Train", "She was in a Dream") - hypnotic ambient textures mixed with a constant barrage of new sounds overlaid, plunging the listener into a weird, but captivating, surrealist dream sequence. Occasionally the songs become a little too jarring or meandering with too many opposing elements (e.g. middle of "Something Happened") or descend too far into art wank (the end section where it sounds like they're playing ping pong in "Heavy Thoughts") but after a bit they usually smooth out and go back to something I enjoy listening to. Although the layers of sounds used here are quite diverse, Phonothek manages to splice them together in such a way that most of the time they mesh together well and feel like a bizarre but cohesive idea. Not sure what I could really compare this to; the best I can do is that if you took one of those Jazz-y IDM acts like Ametsub or Zinovia and removed the beats and put their sounds into an ambient framework than you'd get something vaguely like this.

I like their non-traditional approach to the genre, and I feel that it helps them stand out among contemporary dark ambient producers. Their music is definitely different and interesting, although at times it's a little too disjointed for me. Overall though, with continued listens I find myself liking it more and more. It's a complex gem and it's takes a bit of time to acclimate to, but the payoff is worth it. Lost In Fog is quite a diverse record and is worth checking out for fans of ambient music who want to be challenged and/or are looking for something more on the artsy side of the spectrum.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Atrium Carceri - Archives I-II

Artist: Atrium Carceri
Album: Archives I-II
Year: 2016
Label: Cryo Chamber
Genre: Dark Ambient
Website:  cryochamber.bandcamp.com

Atrium Carceri has released a 2 disc set of archive material dating from 2005-2015; this set consists of material originally written for b-sides, forgotten songs, etc that has been re-worked, re-mastered, and compiled into two long pieces; the first being 43 minutes in length and the second being around 40 minutes.

At this point I feel like it's pointless to review new Atrium Carceri material. It doesn't need it; everything he releases is incredible, never fails to make it on my top 10 of the year list, and should be owned by everyone who reads this blog. You'd be hard pressed to find a more consistently excellent musician out there. It's unbelievable to me that I can own SO MANY albums by one guy and each of them is brilliant.

Anyhow, this is an interesting, if unexpected, release - for whatever reason AC's mastermind Simon Heath has decided to revisit his archives and rework some old material that never saw release. It's presented in 2 longform tracks, although during each there appear to be "breaks" which, at least to me, feel like spots that could have been used to divide this into separate tracks, but whatever. While I love everything AC has released, the first 3 albums are still my favorite. That said, I was excited to hear this material dates back to 2005 (not quite the beginning, but back to Kapnobatai at least). Everything you've loved about AC over the years is here - the trademark bass, sfx, and industrial sounds of the early years; the emotive, forlorn piano melodies; the deep, rumbling chthonic atmospheres of the inner sanctums of the earth; the calm droning soundscapes of the newer material; and the interesting & varied composition he has always been known for. He fuses all of these elements into material that is a perfectly cohesive blend of all of his past styles, while still managing to make it sound like a fresh, brand new album. Of course it's got very polished, modern production so it doesn't have quite the same feel as the old material, but the sentiments are certainly there. Definitely a great and fulfilling release for people like me who have enjoyed the characteristics of each of his albums over the years. In many instances, these "archive" releases result in a bunch of old b-sides which are only interesting for novelty purposes, but aren't particularly good songs you'd listen to often. This is absolutely not the case here and AC has re-assembled his archive material in a way that renders it fully listenable and relevant. You could hand this disc to any fan of dark ambient without them knowing what it was and they'd be like "yeah this is some great contemporary sounding stuff" and not "oh this sounds old/dated/b-side-y/etc".

Even though this release was created from b-sides and unused tracks, the final result is definitely as good as any of his traditional albums. It's very pleasing to see an artist put out something like this and put this much effort into it. If you're a fan of any of Atrium Carceri's work than you will highly enjoy this release as well. With every new release he further solidifies why he is one of the most relevant artists in the history of (dark) ambient music and why he is in the (at least my personal) top 3 dark ambient acts of all time. Definitely a must own for fans of the genre. If you're still new to AC than this would be a solid place to start and get a a glimpse at all the different places he has taken listeners to over the years.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Hymnambulae - Orgelhuset

Artist: Hymnambulae
Album: Orgelhuset
Year: 2016
Label: Hypagoga Press
Genre: Ambient, Field Recording
Website:  hypnagogapress.com

Pär Boström (of Kammarheit) and his sister Asa Boström have started a new label called Hypnagoga Press and their first release through it is their new joint ambient project Hymnambulae. Fans of Pär's projects Kammarheit and Cities Last Broadcast will already have some idea of what to expect here: minimal, yet emotional, droning ambient soundscapes. Additionally, this comes in what sounds like a spectacular package, containing a 32-page booklet and gold embossed lettering.

No one will be surprised to hear comparisons to Kammarheit, which are of course fitting. Orgelhuset certainly has that drifting, emotional, isolationist feel, yet it also comes off as a bit more "sad". Like if you combined the minimal, flowing dronescapes of Asleep and Well Hidden with the forlorn sadness of The Human Voice (side project of fellow Nordic ambient maestro Northaunt). I like the tracks with flutes the best (ex. "Ett Ord Från Öknen", "Sandkornen") as they achieve that state of maximum disassociation / sadness. Something about those languid melodies really does it for me. While I prefer more active ambient, there are a few acts expert enough to nail that whole "highly minimal, yet profound" style without descending into the "highly minimal and boring" pitfall, and Pär Boström has always been one of those musicians. As such, you can be sure that this album will not disappoint. I probably would still have preferred more stuff going on (sfx, melody), but I cannot argue that this perfectly captures the bleak atmosphere and isolated feel of the extreme frozen north. Anyway, albums like this aren't meant to be confined to crude textual description, they need to be heard and experienced. So just go listen to it already!

After a lengthy silence, I'm glad to see Pär Boström has come back in force over the last two years: releasing a brand new Kammarheit album, a collection of older material, a split with Atrium Carceri & Apocryphos, and now this new label and music project. I really like the mission statement of the siblings' new label and look forward to whatever they put out. If this album is any indication than future output should be quite memorable. Overall, Orgelhuset is definitely something to pick up for fans of the more minimal, droning and/or arctic ambient acts on labels like Cyclic Law, Glacial Movements, etc. I also imagine this would do well in that whole field of "regular, non-dark ambient guys who use their real name".

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wounds Of The Earth DJ Mix 012

Deep, transcendental drone blooming into dark, tribal ambient. By Dan Barrett (aka Worms of the Earth)

DJ: Dan Barrett
Genre: Drone, Tribal ambient

Skorneg - Skroneg
Cities Last Broadcast - Deadpost
Antikatechon - Altaria Expationis
Blood Box - Oracle of Babylon
Caul - Dunelight
False Mirror - A Desert You Have To Walk Alone
Hall of Mirrors - Gates of Namathur
God Body Disconnect - Lost In The Astral World
Herbst9 - Lord Of The Shining Crown
Maculatum - Part III
Sephiroth - Dark Garden
Sephiroth - A Map Of Eden Before The Storms
Shrine - Lost Beauty

total time: 62:24

listen @ mixcloud ]

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Get This Album: Mildreda - "Coward Philosophy"

This was certainly an unexpected Industrial gem. The guy from ebm/futurepop act Diskonnekted has decided to revive his early 90s project Mildreda...and it turns out that back in the day he was heavily influenced by not only the best of dark electro (Placebo Effect, Klinik, Numb, Mentallo, etc) but also dark ambient/martial stuff like In Slaughter Natives. Alfa Matrix has brought us this release which contains a full 13 track new album as well as a re-master of an old cassette release (from 1996) and 6 live tracks from a show in 1998. The old material holds up surprisingly well and excellently captures the heavy, ancient darkness of acts like ISN combined with the synthwork of dark electro like Placebo Effect and the driving percussion of classic EBM acts like Klinik. The new material is thankfully quite similar in scope (just with better production) and equally as dark and atmospheric. I'm extremely glad to hear a project making this kind of music in 2016 and capturing the best of the 90s. If you're like me and love industrial/ebm and cold meat industry than you will be pleased.

Unfortunately this release is digital-only, however you get 33 tracks for a mere 12 euro which is beyond a steal in this case. Absolutely a must get for fans of excellent old dark electro with a bit of a martial/dark ambient slant!! I seriously hope to hear more from this project.

[ Mildreda on bandcamp ]

Check out the facebook page for the band's track-by-track analysis

[ facebook ]

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Wounds of the Earth DJ Mix 011 by Dan Barrett

Going to start doing weekly DJ mixes. This mix is focused on ritual ambient. By Dan Barrett (aka Worms of the Earth)

DJ: Dan Barrett
Genre: Ritual Ambient

Exotoendo - Chi Kha'i Bar-Do (Death)
Funerary Call - Thee I Invoke
Aegri Somnia - Sortie I
Shibalba - Stellar Oracle
Aegri Somnia - Sortie II
Raison d'etre - The Spirit Will Not Share The Guilt
Treha Sektori - Vora Esyeh Konteriah (Seperah Teh 2)
Holotrop - Invocation Of The Unthinkable
This Morn Omina - Pisces
Emme Ya - The Backward Paths

total time: 46:07

[ listen @ mixcloud ]

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Quick Looks 3/22/16

God Body Disconnect - "Dredge Portals"
[Cryo Chamber]

Despite this being the first album from the project, it displays a high level of maturity so I'm guessing the guy behind it has been writing music for quite a while. After a few listens, Dredge Portals is shaping up to be one of my favorite releases from the label. Of course the album is full of the typical foggy, darkened droning atmospheres that one would expect from this label, but it's also got quite a bit more going on which sets it apart from its contemporaries. God Body Disconnect expertly mixes in additional sounds (field recordings, pads, even some post-rock textures here and there) while utilizing ebb and flow to craft epic, captivating aural landscapes with plenty of dynamics. Each song explores similar territory, but all are different and fully have their own sound and characteristics. The cover art is a perfect representation of the sound here - walking in the rain through an abandoned city or ancient ruins in a barren field that are shrouded in a dense fog. Even the color scheme of bluish grey is extremely fitting. God Body Disconnect excels at creating sweeping environments which are quite dark yet extremely beautiful and above all, immersive. Additionally, with songs like "The Reflection Tower" and "Lost In The Astral World" he shows that he is capable of crafting some of the most intensely meditative dark ambient out there. It's hard to articulate these sorts of things accurately, but just know that if you are looking for some enthralling ambient with a strong mystical undercurrent than you need to get this. My only complaint is that a lot of the tracks take a while to get started and the intros can be a little bland, but that's a small drop in an ocean of great attributes. Definitely a must pick up from this label, especially if you like more active elements with your drone! In my opinion, I feel this is the best non Simon Heath related thing the label has released since Aegri Somnia. I hope there is much more to come for this project!

ProtoU - "Lost Here"
[Cryo Chamber]

After a split with Dronny Darko, ProtoU delivers her first full length with Lost Here. The album opens with the title track, which is the best one on the album. Beautiful sweeping drones merge with pulsing ocean/water sounds and melancholic pads, accented with the occasional distant clang. Really deep and captivating stuff which vaguely reminds me of fellow Cryo Chamber act Halgrath and/or old CMI (as does the artwork). The second track "Static Memories" is quite similar, although more celestial sounding and less water-y. These two tracks should definitely be heard by fans of this label/style. Unfortunately, the album drops off from there and the rest of the tracks don't live up to the heights reached by the openers. Furthermore, just about every track on the album sounds the same - the same droning sounds, the same sweeping textures doing more or less the same thing over and over for 5 tracks. Not to say the sounds are bad, but with each subsequent track I found myself thinking "hey didn't I just hear this song?" It's not until the final track "Believe" where some truly new territory is explored. Unfortunately, this track is super minimal and didn't grab my interest either. All that said, this album is pretty standard issue Cyro Chamber material - minimal and droning. While not terrible, it doesn't rise above similar acts. However, songs like "Lost Here" prove that there is some real ability here to craft meaningful and deep music, so I'm curious to see where ProtoU goes from here. If she can work on writing more dynamic material with the refined & mature sound of the opening track than I very much look forward to future material.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Wounds Of The Earth DJ Mix 010 By C.Z. Robertson

C.Z. Robertson (also known as the excellent martial industrial project Hands Of Ruin) brings us 46 minutes of obscure, darkened soundscapes taking the listener between ancient, war torn realms and the bleak darkness of the far cosmos.

DJ: C.Z. Robertson
Genre: Dark Ambient, Martial Industrial

00:00 - Phelios - Temple of Yith
04:07 - Des Esseintes - Requiem for My Green Fairy
09:02 - Cold Fusion - Iunge
13:24 - Atomtrakt - Heimkehr der Verwundeten
18:37 - Wappenbund - fremde Fahnen Part II
24:08 - Der Feuerkreiner - Unsere Zeit
28:24 - Kazeria - Liber Corvus
31:18 - In Slaughter Natives - Definition of Being Alive
35:25 - Desiderii Marginis - From Glory to Where
39:00 - Sophia - Unperturbed
41:10 - Stratvm Terror - Unveiled Is My Skin

total time: 46:00

listen ]
download ]

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Get This Album: In Slaughter Natives - "Mort Aux Vaches" re-issue

While the world is apparently doomed to never get another new full length ISN release (I thought Cannula Como Legio was supposed to be a teaser to a new release...?), at least Infinite Fog has the courtesy to re-release older material. This month they've given vinyl treatment to this material which was originally released in 1994 on a split with Deutsch Nepal. I guess this was originally a radio broadcast? I'm not sure, I haven't heard it nor the original but hey its a bunch of awesome ISN songs together so I can't imagine it not being good. The artwork looks fucking amazing and of course has that quintessential ISN/Cold Meat feel.

[ Infinite Fog Productions ]