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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Flowers For Bodysnatchers - "Aokigahara"

Artist: Flowers For Bodysnatchers
Album: Aokigahara
Year: 2015
Label: Cryo Chamber
Genre: Dark Ambient
Website:  cryochamber.bandcamp.com

Don't know anything about the artist, but I find myself fascinated by the strange project name. As for the album itself, Aokigahara is the name of the so-called "Suicide Forest" in Japan; you can't really go wrong with subject matter like that which merges nature and death.

Aoikigahara is an interesting and dynamic album. Just when you think you've got the sound pegged, he switches it up and takes an unexpected turn. The opening tracks "Prisoner Of Night And Fog" and "And There Is A Darkness" rely on ghostly piano and cinematic strings as their focal points, over top of minimal, darkened textures and nighttime sfx such as thunder & dripping water. The piano melodies are not terribly complex, but are aptly catchy and harmonious (I honestly prefer this style to something more jazz-y or whatever). These compositions are fairly minimal and if the entire album was done in this style than I think it would get tedious, but two tracks are the perfect amount. Strikingly solemn & evocative, I would definitely put these on if I was in the mood for something melodic and minimal such as Robert Rich's Open Window. I also enjoy that his compositions have notably different sections to them and evolve/shift the mood over their duration. "Field Of Ink" is a nice little segue into the next part of the album, although using the same banging noise throughout the entire piece gets annoying. "Kuroi Jukai" gets into more droning ambient territory and introduces heavily reverbed Japanese female singing; coupled with the dismal textures these vocals have quite a creepy feel to them. From here on out, the album gets less melodic and focuses more on droning soundscapes. "There Will Be Lies" begins as a meditative piece which slowly builds with the introduction of industrial-ish mechanical & heavily reverbed percussion. The longest piece on the album "Night Heroin" opens with a long passage of loud, kind of in-your-face wall of sound ambient before subsiding into calm, churning blackened textures mixed with various sound effects. Though lengthy, I never found it to fall into tedium. The title track "Aokigahara" is one of the most interesting pieces on the album; it opens with the melodic piano of the opening tracks for a couple of minutes before descending into waves of drone mixed with evocative forest sounds & muted, haunting flute-esque pads. The final two tracks "A Man Metallic" and "The Games Foxes Play" both feature long passages of pleasantly bleak organic/earthen atmospheric droning mixed with somewhat industrial sfx clanking and scrapping in the background.

Overall, this is a solid debut from a new project that has captured my interest. Certainly fits the bill for a soundtrack to a haunting but yet somehow wondrous forest at night. It does a good job of being dynamic while also retaining enough of a common sound throughout the entire album. It doesn't sound all that much like other acts, but if I had to compare I would say it is somewhere in between Steve Roach and a very stripped down version of Herbst9's The Gods Are Small Birds, But I Am The Falcon with some Hall Of Mirrors thrown in for good measure. While it's quite good (and definitely recommended!), it's not perfect and I am excited to see how this project will develop in the future.

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