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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.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Get This Album: Troum & Yen Pox - "Mnemonic Induction"

I am extremely excited to see that this month will see Troum & Yen Pox re-releasing their epic collaborative dark droning album "Mnemonic Induction" which was originally released in 2002 on Malignant Records and has long been sold out. Looks like it has been re-mixed and remastered as well. I will be buying this immediately after making this post. You can grab it from the Yen Pox bandcamp in both digital and hardcopy format!


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Gore Tech - "Futurphobia"

Artist: Gore Tech
Album: Futurphobia
Year: 2015
Label: Ad Noiseam
Genre: Dubstep, Breakcore, DNB
Website:  www.adnoiseam.net

This is my first encounter with Ad Noiseam’s recent self-described “Deathstep” producer Gore Tech. This album is a mixture of dnb, breakcore, and dubstep that feels like being in the middle of a futuristic war.

The album opens with “>Run (William Gibson)” which obviously piques my interest immediately. It’s basically a 2 minute ambient thing with a sample from a Gibson book – can’t really go wrong there. After the intro, the album kicks into “The Zerofinity Event” which is your standard halftime dnb banger. The sound is dark & gritty and I really like the use of sci-fi & machinery sound effects to give this some atmosphere. The next track is “Optical Hybrid” which further exemplifies what I am assuming “deathstep” is – a dark, gritty, futuristic hybrid of drum and bass and dubstep. This is a head-nodder with good groove and variety. “The Ghost Particle” is another hard, driving track – it’s a good mixture of heaviness, dub and strange darkened atmospheres. Evol Intent had this shit on lock like 10+ years ago, but I mean, this is still cool. “The Plague of Zion” is a mix of breakcore and that rasta shit which I hate, but I guess it’s here if that’s something you want to hear. “Dubwar” is cool and heavy; it reminds me of an old video game, for example like Metal Gear on NES, where you’re in the jungle with heavy artillery shooting people. “Hex Spectrum” is full of really annoying sounds so I skip that one. “Organica” is another good one, albeit something of an interlude. It’s got a cinematic robotics machine shop feel. It builds up over its 4 minute duration and nearly flows right into the next track “Mechanica” which is a collab with Hecq. Unsurprisingly, this track features the most exciting sound design on the record – it carries the aforementioned machine shop atmosphere but with some great intricate percussion. Unfortunately, the 2nd half of this track is this overly extended winding down period, and it feels like they missed an opportunity to amp up the action into a meaningful crescendo. The final track is a remix of Machinecode, whose album I liked. Basically this remix along with its predecessor “In Exilium” is if you take that fucking Chappie robot and make him cripwalk to some futuristic rap made by post-apocalyptic slum denizen who heard a NAS record. He should’ve thrown a cut up ridiculous hip hop acapella over this. Basically, “hard shit” for drunk white boys who wanna to turn their hat sideways and act hard. What I’m saying is just fuckin get drunk and it’s pretty good.

This is a hard record to rate. There are some great sounds here as well as some missed opportunities. To be honest, a lot of this darkstep derived stuff (well, any dnb really) sounds the same to me at this point, so if you want to listen to some Audio or Dylan or Panacea or whatever than you might as well put this on because, why not? I like the futuristic influence for sure, but a lot of it isn't really my style either. The gritty production is a double-edged sword; it gives it something of a “dark” edge but also makes it feel pretty dated, for better or worse. If you like Ad Noiseam stuff and breakcore give it a shot, turn your hat sideways, and drink a 40.

Shinkiro - "Cycle of Rebirth"

Artist: Shinkiro
Album: Cycle of Rebirth
Year: 2015
Label: SSSM
Genre: Drone, Dark Ambient, Industrial
Website:  facebook.com/shinkiroofficial

After two self-released ambient albums and a fantastic split with Empusae on Ant Zen, Shinkiro returns with Cycle of Rebirth on Japanese imprint SSSM.

I enjoy Shinkiro because of his somewhat atypical approach to ambient music. I dig his heavy used of samples and sfx, along with his ability to make densely packed and dynamic tracks with something of a surrealist touch. Cycle of Rebirth is toned down a bit compared to his previous album, Reflection of Her Deepest Fear, but the positive qualities from that work appear here as well.  “1st Cycle” is a great droning track that utilizes a slowly moving minimal drone at its core, wrapped in layers of subtle sound effects that continuous swirl around it, constantly shifting and generating atmosphere. This is a great example of how to make interesting drone music that doesn't get monotonous or stagnant. “2nd Cycle” is similar, although the core drone feels like a plucked string stretched into infinity. This gives it both a distinctly Asian feel as well as a “meditational” vibe. While more subtle than the opener, this track also uses the technique of one main drone while other things softly swirl about in the background. The end of the track completely shifts gears and brings in almost martial style pounding drums and a strange floating melody. “3rd Cycle” is the most “experimental” piece so far and it brings to mind fellow Japanese composer Contagious Orgasm. This piece opens with noisy drones before plateauing into 80s cyberpunk feeling ambient with a strong Knight Rider-esque bassline. The background droning bits and sounds give this the feeling of a dystopian future metropolis at night. It builds over several minutes, adding excellent crunchy industrial drums before subsiding into murky drones for the last several minutes. “4th cycle” has more of a Tangerine Dream or thereabouts sound – dreamy analog pads and a floating melody over heavy low end drones. This one feels like endlessly floating through an abstract, but not unpleasant, dream. It’s the shortest on the album at only 4 minutes, yet the duration is perfect for the piece. The album closer “5th cycle” is similar to the third song in that it is lengthy and makes its way through several phases. It opens with haunting ambiance that feels like drifting through a world of distressed ghosts and spirits. It slowly builds, getting harsher and darker as it progresses. Towards the end, more industrial drums and a nebulous melody emerge and mesh perfectly with the aforementioned ghostly atmosphere.

Cycle of Rebirth is a refreshing change from the more minimal styles of drone that I usually get to review. Shinkiro does an excellent job at crafting an engaging work of ambient music that keeps you interested throughout its duration and includes various surprises along the way. It’s hard to fully articulate why, but I feel that the album has a markedly Japanese mythological / ghost / horror vibe to it. Definitely something for people looking for experimental Japanese music that is more on the ambient/drone side of the spectrum.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Council of Nine - "Dakhma"

Artist: Council of Nine
Album: Dakhma
Year: 2015
Label: Cryo Chamber
Genre: Drone, Dark Ambient
Website:  cryochamber.bandcamp.com

First full length from newcomer Council of Nine. His first appearance was couple of tracks on the Tomb of Empires split (alongside Foundation Hope, Alphaxone, and Coph'Antae Tryr), which I unfortunately have not listened to yet, however I've heard several people hyping up this release so I figured I'd check it out.

The opener, "The Magi" delivers pretty much exactly what we've come to expect from Cryo Chamber - deep, placid, fathomless droning soundscapes and crystal clear production. While minimal and undoubtedly subtle, This track expertly conjures visions of ancient times and the wreckage of sunken temples. It's a bit minimal for me personally, but it is certainly captivating nonetheless. I feel that it exemplifies the cover art. The next track, "Tower of Silence", is similar, though it introduces a sombre melody and distant banging which help to bolster the atmosphere significantly. The melody adds a certain dreary and ghostly vibe to the piece; a sad reflection on an ancient relic. "Sacrifice" is the longest track here at nearly 16 minutes and it is simultaneously the most boring. I found this one to be overly long without much of anything happening. If you skip ahead to any point it sounds exactly the same. Couple that with the fact that the last 3 minutes are so quiet that it sounds like complete silence unless I crank my speakers up to max volume and this track falls flat. Thankfully, the follow up track "Nasu" corrects the wrongs of its predecessor and is one of the best tracks on the album. The visionary atmospheres of the opening track return, coupled with subtle sound effects and even more veiled melodic bits. The drones ebb and flow, providing dynamics sorely lacking in the prior tack. As with previous tracks, I feel like this song is more or less the same thing over and over for it's entire 7 minute duration, though the sounds used are solid. "The Ossuary" follows suit: some great sounds that strongly create darkened atmospheres, yet too stagnant as a whole. The album closer "Circle of the Sun" is another piece similar to "Sacrifice"; an overly long, monotonous droning affair where nothing really happens.

Overall, this ends up being a pretty average album for me. There are some really good tracks, but also a few overly bland ones. Council of Nine definitely has skills to craft interesting and captivating soundscapes, but I feel that his stuff lacks variety. These songs need more progression in them - it feels like they tread water and remain in the same position for their entire duration. If he could expand his sound palette and get more going on within some of these tracks than I feel he could make exceptional work. As it is this is still a quality release and will please fans of the label and style. I'm looking forward to what he creates in the future.

Flint Glass & Collapsar - "Deus Irae"

Artist: Flint Glass & Collapsar
Album: Deus Irae
Year: 2015
Label: Ant Zen, Brume, Sealt
Genre: Dark Ambient, Drone, Industrial
Website:  flintglass.bandcamp.com

From the moment I got word of this split, I was excited. Flint Glass is one of my favorite projects and I love his blend of dark sci-fi atmospherics and industrial/idm/techno. Nyarlathotep is still one of my favorite records (you can't go wrong with HP Lovecraft references/influence). And to see him working with crushing space ambient producer Collapsar was quite exciting. Additionally, this was released in various formats: it was released as a limited edition vinyl via SEALT, on CD by Ant Zen, and digitally by Flint Glass's own Brume. The vinyl contains the two long-form tracks "The Servants of Wrath part I" and "...part II", while the CD and digital versions contain 5 additional remixes. I also want to mention that the artwork is absolutely stellar and fits this album perfectly!


As predicted, the two original tracks are nothing less than spectacular. Each one is over 20 minutes long, coming in at 21 and 26 minutes respectively. They are both highly dynamic and show these artists pushing what can be done within the "ambient" genre. 

The Servants of Wrath part I:
This one, overall, is a bit more on the ambient side of things. It opens with clean cosmic droning which immediately transport you through the endless voids of space onto an ancient planet littered with dead technology. While it has some similarities to the Collapsar solo record, overall it is much cleaner which allows it to feel exceptional spacious and dynamic. These textures are truly colossal and worth of the grandeur that Lovecraft writes of. After about 5 minutes they bring in some of the trademark Flint Glass sounds and it slowly builds with slow, plodding percussion, giving it a very cinematic feel - think of spaceship scene in a modern take on Alien. One of the best parts of this album is the incredibly deep and dynamic atmospheres which continually shift and mutate between the percussive sequences, and they are in full effect throughout this song. After the section of slow, heavy drum hits, everything collapses into a pit of subtle darkness before slowly building back up. From 11 or 12 minutes on, it feels similar to a typical Flint Glass track. There are many trademark noises and the click-y IDM-influenced percussion dominates. From here the track shuffles between minimal ambient sections embodying the vast emptiness of space, and similar beat-driven parts, conjuring visions of strange space stations and foreign planet surfaces, several more times before coming to a close. 

The Servants of Wrath part II:
The second track contains the same general characteristics and sounds, although it brings in percussion much sooner. Quickly we're thrown into a very Flint Glass-esque track - again with the click percussion toiling underneath impressively sci-fi atmospheres. There are some spoken word samples and crunchy (though subdued) noise in the background which must be the Collapsar influence. Nothing short of cinematic masterwork. Part II exhibits a similar flow to Part I, although the parts with drums are a bit heavier and more driving. Some of the harshness of Collapsar's work shines through and enhances the Flint Glass palette.

In addition to the 2 album tracks, there are also 5 remixes. As is the case with most remixes, the bulk of these are, sadly, disposable. The only remixes worth mentioning are the ones from Hologram_ and Iszoloscope. Hologram_ provides a captivating industrial-y IDM flavored mix with clicky, complex beats dancing beneath a charming melody and exceptionally futuristic atmospheres. Iszoloscope turns his track into a heavy, rhythmic noise/dark techno banger. He does an exceptional job at allowing his crunchy & driving percussion to coexist in perfect harmony with the massive atmosphereics of the original work. A superb example of how to make interesting, deep, and well produced rhythmic noise. These are both great tracks which expertly utilized some of the best elements of the originals while enhancing them with their own sounds & flavor, and  I can see myself listening to frequently.

An exceptional split that sounds like the two artists fully merged their brains and composed as one. Everything fits together nicely and nothing feels strange or out of place. I feel that the strengths of both artists shine through. The excellent mixing and production further enhance the pieces and turn them into celestial masterpieces. Definitely a must hear for fans of either artists or space-themed ambient/industrial in general.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Get This Album: Yen Pox - "Between The Horizon And The Abyss"

Dark ambient masters Yen Pox finally return with a new full length! Although they released a 12in in 2011, their last full length was a split with Troum in 2002. Despite a (more or less) 13 year absence, this new release proves that they still have it - and possibly more now than ever! Between The Horizon and The Abyss is every bit as dark, menacing, and deep as previous releases, only now with cleaner sounds and better production. It reminds me somewhat of Blood Music - namely most of the things I enjoyed about the ambient first disc (speaking about the re-release); there are definitely many sounds and textures that are distinctly "Yen Pox". While it doesn't chart new ground, they took their trademark sound and refined it to perfection as they take the listener on a darkened journey from the blackest pits at the bottom of hell to the emptiness of the vast space between celestial spheres. An absolute must hear for anyone interested in dark ambient!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Wounds of the Earth DJ Mix 008 by Swarm Intelligence

Experimental mix through myriad strange and darkened corridors from industrial dubstep producer Swarm Intelligence.

DJ: Swarm Intelligence
Genre: Noise, Industrial, Experimental

Ed Lawes - Aclear
Leyland Kirby - Machete's at The Banshee
Loops Haunt - Exits
Qebrµs - A Rainy Monday
VORRS - Razor Teeth
Untold - Drop It On The One
Swarm Intelligence - Hamburg Harbour
The Haxan Cloak - Miste
Eric Holm - Stave
Bolder - Passive Aggressive
Nolan Dialta - -ment
Sleeping On Lotus Ashes -The Fat Lady Who Became Absorbed
Basic House - Child Confession
Eomac - Spectre
Walter Gross - We Need
Prurient - Back Cuts
ANBU - 005
Oyaarss - trīsvienība
Deadfader - Tenblum
Gajek - Moving Glasses Pt 02
Shapednoise - A Pleasant Euphoria
Clark - Snowbird
Monolog - Fallen Ones
Vessel - Drowned in Water and Light

total time: 63:49

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