v/a * मोक्ष (mc 2015)

I do not receive a whole lot of promo/to-review material. Actually I am glad about that. When I buy an album and do not like it, I will say so; when I do, the same. I hear a lot of music that I am indifferent to. It may work as background music, it does not annoy me, nor does it please me. When I get such an album, I frequently decide not to review it at all. The owner of the Russian UIS label insisted that I would listen to their “post industrial” compilation to hear its brilliance. I did listen to this compilation, three times. There are but few reviews on this website of albums that I heard three times before reviewing it. Still I find it difficult to write this review. However the music on this compilation is varried in musical style, all tracks seem to have something incommon. They do not really ‘work for me’. But, to (probably) present you some new names, here we go for a free Bandcamp compilation that was earlier presented as an audio cassette.

The title of this compilation translates as “Mokṣa”, a Sanskrit term that according to the label means “breaking from chains of reincarnation and all the miseries of material existence”. The music is inspired by the funeral music of the balinese village of Trunyan. There are nine tracks on the compilation. The opening act is the Russian project Obt Grubuscrum with a rather typical, but descent, ritualistic dark ambient track (think of Herbst9 for example), Project Hypoxia reminds more of the Hyperium sound with melodic, ‘ethnic’ sounding music. Per Aspera also starts with such a sound, but goes over in something somewhat technoish. Next up is Bhārata Mātā with a bit of an experimental tribalish track. After this we get a slightly darker, yet melodic track of Krrau. As with Bharata Mata, we now get another piece of experimental tribal industrial, perhaps reminding of the more tranquil material of Hybryds; the project is named ﻗﺎﻣﺖ ﺍﻟﺳﺎﻋﺔ. Угасание is more dark ambient soundscape type music. The same can be said about Vehjora, but this goes over in guitar-drone. The closing track is weird minimalistic and experimental music; Discogs has it listed as “ethno-ambient” which roughly covers the sound (but could be applied to other tracks as well); the project is presented under the monicker Ajuleg & Irm.

The compilation works as background music, but to me the music is not interesting enough to really listen to it. What is somewhat funny, I more or less get the same feeling with each track (indifference, there are not really ‘highs’ and ‘lows’). Would that mean that “Mokṣa” is very well compiled?

Link: UIS

Amalthea * s/t (mc 2015)

Amalthea is Michael Idehall and Æther. Beläten released material of both projects and there is a message of Thomas Ekelund to accompany this cassette, but this self-titled tape was released by a label that is new to me (even though they released a tape with Trepaneringsritualen).

Well then. Michael Idehall records both material that I adore and more monotous ritualistic material that I like less. Æther is also a bit too monotous for my ears and yet I read that the split is somewhat noisy. That is not really the case on side A. The two tracks are soundscapes, mostly with an ‘industrial pulse’. The tracks are nicely dark, perhaps not brilliant but nice to listen to.
The two tracks on side B are indeed quite a bit noisier. They still have the slow rhythm, making what I call ‘noisescapes’. These two tracks are the more interesting of this tape to me.

A descent tape for background music. For people who like dark, slightly industrial and ritualistic ambient.

Links: Michael Idehall, Æther

Michael Idehall ‎* Deep Code Sol (cd 2015)

All material has been reviewed before, but this of Idehall is so good that I want to bring it under your attention again now that Ant-Zen put both Beläten tapes on one very nicely packaged cd.

The “Sol” tape has been rereleased before with two extra tracks. These are (unfortunately) not included on this Ant-Zen release. The cd starts with the 2014 tape “Deep Code” and then follows the 2012 tape “Sol”. Idehall also makes ritualistic soundscapes which are too minimalistic for my taste, but the music he recorded for Beläten is about the best music I have heard in quite a while. The sound is somewhere between the “angstpop” sound of other Beläten releases and more ritualistic music. Idehall uses his voice a lot, making an impression like that of the earlier material of Coph Nia; dark, chanting, haunting: brilliant!

Should you have missed the Beläten tapes, the Bandcamp versions or the “Sol” rerelease on cd, make sure to get this beautiful version of Ant-Zen.

Links: Michael Idehall, Ant-Zen

ARM * Enheartened (mc 2014)

ARM is a project of Dan Serbanescu of Tanz Ohne Musik, Divine Muzak, Alone In The Hollow Garden and Archaos. The music reminds a bit of the early sideprojects from the black metal scene of a few decades ago. Simple electronic music, melancholic with harsch (here: distorted) vocals. Beläten describes the tape as “a collection of deceptively simple dungeon synth lullabies” which says about the same. I used the ‘tag’ that I used to ‘tag’ these early electronic black metal side projects, but I release that “ritual” does not really describe the sound of ARM. I have no proper alternative at hand though.

I like the opening track of side B best. This track is a bit more uptempo (relative to the rest of the material) with a bit of a ‘minimal wave’ feel. Also on side B is a more noisy “Unhappening”. The rest of the material is a bit dull to my ears.

Link: Beläten

Michael Idehall * Sol (extended) (cd 2014)

The first version of this album was a tape on Beläten. Two years after the initial release the album is slightly extended and rereleased by a sublabel of Cat’s Heaven / VUZ Records. The package is not great. A photocopied A5 booklet with the cd pasted in.

The extension are two tracks put before the original release. The opening track now is a slightly monotous, ritualistic soundscape of 9:29 minutes. The other new tracks is a great and dark piece of noisy ritual music. Then follow the tracks of the wonderfull debut of Idehall. Sometimes somewhat ambient, at other times more industrial or angstpop and always nicely dark. Idehall’s voice definately sets the sound of this project.

Truely a great release. The second release is even better, but when you, like me, missed the physical debut, here is your chance to get it on cd. Be quick though, there are only 111 copies.

Links: Michael Idehall, Bastet Recordings

Den Arkaiska Rösten * ◯▲ (mc 2014)

Who remembers the 1994 album “Dreams Of Dark Waters” by Endvra? Now that was a dark piece of ritualistic ambient, was it not? Sure, ritualistic ambient is quite a hip genre nowadays, but when does it sound as dark as Endvra, Hexentanz, Equimanthorn or Funerary Call? Here we have a release that makes a good aim, even though the approach is much different from the projects that I named. The project’s name means “the archaic voices”. This is a fitting name, because besides some drones and effects, the music mostly consists of vocal experiments of Per Åhlund and Girilal Baars. The result is haunting and especially in the first track (the circle), it came out very good.
Interesting! Available as Bandcamp download and tape (with free download).
Link: Beläten

Wardruna * Runaljod – Yggdrasil (cd 2013)

I did not know Wardruna before they played at the 2009 Dutch festival Incubate. Not that I saw them there, but I heard the name from that line-up. Soon after everybody seemed to know Wardruna. Goths, metalheads, heathens, the whole lot. It took Wardruna three years to come up with a follow up for “Gap Var Ginnunga “. Three years in which everybody apparently craved for this second album. It seems to have come with a bang and the craze is as big as three years ago. The sound remained the same. Shamanistic and sometimes dark, folky music with Norse lyrics. Most of the time you will hear just a steady drum, a stringed instrument, male and female chanting and sometimes low, male singing. The first time I listened to “Yggdrasil” I had the idea that the sound had become much lighter. The chanting sometimes reminds of ‘Amerindians’ and it all came to be a bit newagey. At midnight the sound seems quite alike that of the debut. Just like with the debut I can say that the sound of Wardruna is quite unique, at times pretty impressive, but not always convincing. Most of the time this is pretty good though.
Links: Wardruna, Indie Records

Funerary Call * Fragments From The Aethyr (cd 2012)

And suddenly there are two new releases by Funerary Call from Canada. They somehow seem ‘twin-products’ with very dark, ritualistic, and most of all, more minimalistic sounds than I am used to. “Fragments From The Aethyr” opens with dark and eerie sounds with a violin, reminding of the masterly “Equestrian Seals” from “Dark Waters Stirred” with Troy Southgate’s voice, but then without Southgate. Pretty soon the track goes over in noisy havoc, dark, like it is supposed to sound. Furtheron things get more minimalistic, strange and dark soundscapes created with ‘droning guitars’, human bones drumming, soundbowls and other ritualistic equipment, tortured voices and dark electronics. Three long tracks that come on a cd packed in a nice digipack for those who think that dark ambient is not dark enough.
Links: Funerary Call, Crucial Blast

Funerary Call ‎* Nightside Emanations (cd 2012)

The hottest days of the year are no good time to review the dark and bleak sounds of Funerary Call. “Nightside Emanations” opens with a very dark piece of ritualistic ambient, the style of Funerary Call, strange soundscapes, deep beats and an unsettling atmosphere. The album continues with dark sounds, but lateron the tracks get more minimalistic and soundscapish, a ritualistic sound reminding of current releases of the Polish Zoharum label. Funerary Call is a lot darker though. I have mixed feelings about the more minimalistic tracks. Sometimes they are too minimalistic for my liking, but at other moments the screams and weird sounds in the background raise an impressive atmosphere. Like I said, this music may be better on cold winter nights and not so much on sunny days with 35ºC / 95F. For people living in another climate than the Dutch or simply those who like the really dark stuff all year long, you want to get your hands on this album that comes in a nice DVD-size digipack.
Links: Funerary Call, Malignant

Rapoon * Disappeared Redux (2012)

Rapoon is a classic industrial project from Poland, but I almost only knew them by name. It seems that this is the first cooperation with their country-mates from Zoharum (after a compilation contribution). “Disappeared Redux” opens with a piano tune and continues with a very nice dark ambient track with a soft rhythm and a female spoken voice. After this there are a couple of very minimalistic soundscapes with a ritualistic tone, but not really my cup of tea. Only in dark tracks such as “Breath Of Ages” (track 7) Rapoon catches my attention. Unfortunately while the good tracks are very good, the other tracks not really, to my ears, but since there are more of the latter, I do not think that I will put on this album very often.
Links: Rapoon, Zoharum