Friday, September 10, 2010

Mystified - Passing Through the Outer Gates: Eulogy Series volume I (First Fallen Star 2010)

Yet another essential release from newest collaborator, First Fallen Star, and a unique perspective from the musical perspective of death, Thomas Park (Mystified) sets out with this release to capture the experience of death from his angle and does so brilliantly.

If you imagine the experience of death as an ethereal transcendence, nothing violent or demonic, depressing or pessimistic, then you’d be in perfect agreement with Mystified’s post mortem atmospheres. Somewhat neo-classical and space ambient, Mystified paints images of eternal drifting and cosmos on top of a fairly minimal and spacious background. Each track sort of echoes and ricochets through a massive tunnel of space-time as would the soul as it journeys away from the mortal body into the absolute oblivion. If anything can convincingly illustrate the sort of Nirvana to be found beyond Earthly and mortal constraints it’s Mystified with Passing Through the Outer Gates. These are some seriously moving compositions!!!!

The album packaging is equally intricate as it’s presented in an A5 digipak with silver foil embossed lettering and a specially die-cut cover with a coffin shaped hole that reveals a small fraction of the awesome album artwork that lies underneath. There’s some serious care taken in each release in terms of artwork, packaging, and of course…the sounds.

Purchasing info and audio samples:

Dense Vision Shrine - Time Lost in Oblivion (First Fallen Star 2010)

Dense Vision Shrine is yet another artistic character embodied by Karsten Hamre and a simultaneous release on First fallen Star with his self titled acts FFS debut Through the Eyes of a Stranger. The title of Time Lost in Oblivion couldn’t have been better chosen for this release as the sounds herein sound as ancient and drifting as they do completely otherworldly.

Each track captures some alien world field recordings and then morphs them through a moderately warm and distorted ne-classical medium. The metallic clanks serve as a backdrop to the vortex of soft ambient hums and whirrs that circulate about your brain like a skilled hypnotist. Each track is stark, barren, isolationist drone, but never without any presence of life.

The tracks remind me of the image from Eloy’s The Tides Return Forever, where a man stands in solitude on a parched and cracked planet’s surface staring into oblivion as a gigantic beam of white light glares out at him from the center of the universe. That image exactly sums up what you will experience through Time Lost in Oblivion.

For Audio Samples and contact:

For purchasing:

Crisis - Reaktor 4 (Syndrom Records 2010)

This is one of my new brilliant finds in the dark ambient/noise/industrial genre and although I haven’t had the actual album on hand to fully check out in detail I can comment on my first impressions of the work.

The sound is very mechanical, hypnotic, and almost hallucinatory, sort of like what the old main frame computers bleeping and chirping would sound like on LSD. Amidst the cold electronic whirrs and hums, rumbles and blurps, there’s an aesthetically warm, almost analog effect to the tracks like “Neutron” and “Strom” that remind me of some of Clusters darker moments.

Maybe some of the fuzzy electronic babble is some tonal alien lingo, that’s a definite possibility as these tracks really do somehow speak from within the feedback and variable frequencies, just listen to “Evakuierung” with it’s muddled and incoherent speech and you’ll know exactly what I mean. It’s almost as f you’re waking up from a deep narcotic nap and barely able to clearly discern any environmental stimulus, but there are some definitely familiar elements, living elements.

Definitely check out the audio at:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Winterfylleth – The Mercian Sphere (Candlelight Records 2010)

Based out of Manchester, England and deriving their name and inspirations from their homeland and history, one can only expect the majestic and epic atmospheres that these guys deliver. The band are described as playing: “English Black Metal, with traditional Northern European Folk and ambient overtones. “, and nothing could be closer to the truth.

In terms of sound it’s somewhere in the Wolves in the Throne Room, Blut Aus Nord (Memoria Vetusta II), Altar of Plagues, Twilight (Monument to Time End) realm with a bit of the more pagan Bathory albums. The tracks are very dense, the vocals are ferocious but more deliberate in execution than just merely being part of the atmosphere. The mood of the album fluctuates between conjuring up images of a furious firestorm and the blazing violent winds where everything is charred and destroyed, the pure horror and chaos, and then the sort of intense memory of it when looking at the damage after it had passed.

The mixture of the tempestuous parts and the more subdued bits cover the range of war, victory, and even despair in some of the more acoustic sounding passages as heard at the beginning of “The Honour of Good Men” before the ravaging kicks in. As with bands like Winterfylleth and the others mentioned, there’s always a devastating storm, some really deep and insightful morose atmospheres, and a sense of pride and strength within the album and sometime each track. The folk elements are not over bearing here in anyway and nothing is cliché or redundant so the result is a melodic and solid piece of modern black metal. Along with this release I’d definitely recommend checking out Woe and bay area band Embers, both they really capture the extremities of the various styles they mix and the final result is pretty thrilling and intense.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Karsten Hamre - Through the Eyes of a Stranger

One of my newest collaborators and gaining ground on Malignants stronghold over me in terms of awesome consecutive dark ambient releases, First Fallen Star has delivered a handful of neuron scrambling releases one of which being this one here. Karsten Hamre is no stranger to the scene, having releases work under aliases: Arcane Art, Penitent, The Flux Komplex, veiled Allusions, Defraktor, and now his own name and Dense Vision Shrine. Karsten is also a visual artist and not only designs his own cover art but also does live shows.

Through The Eyes of a Stranger is one of those rare albums that sort of stops time when it come on because it has a certain substance that completely catches your undivided attention whether you intend it ot or not. Tracks like " Keepers of the Bones",and "Remember the Past" showcase organic textures and an alluring and almost warm analog feel that instantly brings to mind the more cosmic and dronier work of Tangerine Dream (Phaedra,Rubicon) and Cluster (71), yet they are created using digital equipment. Other tracks such as "Darkness Gently Falling" and "The End of the World" tread the black waters of minimal symphonic scores as the synth swatches feel as if they are being frozen to a dead stop as they come toward you, then suddenly they speed up and whoosh past you to almost dissapear into some unseen void.

The brilliance of Karsten Hamre is obvious in the way that he can blend cosmic/celestial drone, neo-classical, dark ambient, and an almost psychedelic or maybe half-psychotic state of mind into seven tracks that somehow actually do put the listener in the mind and reality of someone else. This would be the perfect soundtrack to a film in which the enitre film is shot through the yes and experiences of the main character, you never see him/her, but you see and hear how that person interacts with their surroundings. This is definitely one of my new hot picks currently and highly recommended to those who enjoy the more cinematic aspects to their ambient.

For fans of: Tangerine Dream, Cluster, Klaus Schulze, Phelios, Collapsar

Audio samples and contact info:

art info:

related acts:
Dense Vision Shrine: