AMN Reviews: Sonologyst – Ancient Death Cults And Beliefs (2020; Cold Spring Records)

Sonologyst is Raffaele Pezzella, one of the more active purveyors of dark ambient, electroacoustic, and experimental music. He is not only active as a label head and running a radio show, but also as a recording artist. Ancient Death Cults And Beliefs, released March 13, is a journey exploring the rituals surrounding death and the dead. The album’s five tracks focus on the two main emotions that humanity expresses about this topic – fear and veneration.

Pezzella combines grinding, windswept drones with both patterned and rhythmless object percussion, as well as crackling processed sounds and echoing waves. In and around these are further sonic manipulations that provide rough motifs and a sense of direction. On one track, what sounds like either a baritone sax or a synth provides a mournful slow-paced theme. The result is a tense feel evoking both ancient and modern technology. Organic and oppressive, the sounds investigate the mysteries of death through the listener’s subjective experience.

But even ignoring this central concept, Ancient Death Cults And Beliefs stands out as a compelling slab of modern dark ambiance enhanced with generous doses of processing. Well done.