AMN Reviews: AJNA – Oracular (2020; Cyclic Law)

AJNA’s first release on Cyclic Law, Lucid Intrusion, was a commendable addition to the ever-expanding dark ambient compendium. Oracular, a follow-up released this month, does not deviate too far from this path, but exhibits a few novel twists and turns.

The modus operandi here includes deep, dark drones, windswept soundscapes, and manipulated sounds lurking in the background and occasionally jumping into the fore. This latter set of elements appear at times to be vocal or animal in origin, yet unidentifiable. At other points, they are mechanical in nature – the creaking of metal and giant machines or sculpted white noise. The drones are layered, each with a different pitch and wave-pattern, overlapping as they ebb and flow. This results in a palpable tension, as the drones – though foreboding – tend to lull the listener until a jarring set of processed acoustics raises its ugly head. Like a scene from a nightmare, there is nowhere to relax or run.

The high points of the album are where AJNA uses his palette of compositional tools together to create slowly-oscillating but harshly-textured alien soundscapes – ideal for dark-room listening. This is more than enough to earn Oracular an enthusiastic thumbs up.

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