Göldi fell is, put simply, the soundtrack to A Very Bad Time. The latest album from Several Wives is one of the most unsettling pieces of dark ambient I have had the (mis)pleasure of hearing in quite some time. Thick with ominous atmosphere and a sense of dread that is never far away, this is the music that plays when you’re alone at night in an unfamiliar house, grappling with demons both real and imaginary; of returning to your childhood home and finding the dimensions being somehow off; of a sense of wrongness that goes beyond the physical. As all this might imply, it’s also a very impressive piece of work, that leaves a long-lasting impression.
If the previous edition of short reviews covered all sorts of different heaviness, this selection is a very different beast. Sure, there’s undeniable heaviness here – particularly on the doom side of things, from Plague of Carcosa – but there’s also energetic, nimble post-hardcore from Pacifist, the exemplary blackgaze of Hidden Mothers, noisy, abrasive post-punk/noise-rock from Hissing Tiles, and sentimental late-night drone/ambient courtesy of High aura’d and Josh Mason. A delightfully varied selection, then – but did you expect anything less?
It can sometimes seem like improvised drone is ubiquitous within the genre, and that you can’t go onto Bandcamp without stumbling across some new record that was recorded in a single take, constructed of drum loops, manipulated guitars, and more effects pedals than is healthy for one human to own. With this in mind, what sets Keep it in the Ground apart from other examples of the genre? Well, other than that Some Became Hollow Tubes comprise of Eric Quach (thisquietarmy) and Aidan Girt (Godspeed You! Black Emperor), which is on its own enough to generate excitement, Keep it in the Ground succeeds in striking that balance between the ominous and the awe-inspiring; the terrifying and the life-affirming. A hugely captivating album, it also possesses a rare sense of narrative and flow.
In many ways, post-rock, ambient, and drone music have a lot in common. All three genres seek, through different methods, to wrap the listener up in a cocoon of sounds, enveloping them in sounds either warm or starkly oppressive, taking their consciousness away to somewhere else. It’s a task that Ten succeed at on new album The Fog Bank. Though nominally an ambient group, there’s a lot of arresting melodies here that mean that tag doesn’t quite fit perfectly; but the overall effect of the music makes it accurate enough. Full of warm drones, blissful melodic lines and an aching sense of beauty, The Fog Bank is a record to sink in to late at night.
One of the real tests of instrumental music is its ability to convey narrative. Stripped of lyrics, and the natural focal point of a vocalist, the importance of the music actually putting across something concrete and captivating either comes to the fore; or, in the case of ambient music, is all-but disregarded. With Ceremony in the Stillness, the latest album from A-Sun Amissa, that challenge is not only embraced, but met in superb style. The combination of doom-drone influenced auras, post-rock soundscapes, and haunting dark ambience is loaded with emotion, and moves with a sense of story-telling that is too rare in instrumental music. Most records of this style hint at the idea of having a running theme; but on Ceremony in the Stillness, that sense of narrative is impossible to ignore.
And so, another month, another selection of short reviews. As always, it’s an eclectic selection, taking in a dark abmient soundtrack by Guillermo Pizarro; classic speed metal from Wardance; a reissue of some occult black metal, courtesy of Shaidar Logoth and Sentient Ruin; retro-rock from Wheel in the Sky; stomping hardcore from Peace of Mind; and some crushing death metal in the shape of Skeletal Serpent‘s self-titled EP. Enjoy!
There were points when I was listening to The Great Lake Swallows when I couldn’t help but question what the point of music is. A lot of music that is made can be lumped in to fairly large, understandable categories when it comes to motivation – the desire for self-expression, whether with or without words; the simple joy of playing with friends; or dreams of becoming a rock star or impressing someone you’re attracted to. But then, there is music that feels more serious, where motivations and meanings run deeper than what can easily be expressed. It is to this last category that The Great Lake Swallows belongs, with the collaboration between Canadian cellist Julia Kent and Belgian guitarist/tape machine manipulator Jean D.L. being a record that speaks of great things, that taps in to that sense of true meaning, expressing something universal that transcends words and culture. It is beautiful; it is captivating; and it is emotionally devastating.