AMN Reviews: Xerxes the Dark – Final Crisis (2020; Zāl Records)

Tehran’s Xerxes the Dark is a project of Mohamadreza Govahi (AKA Morego Dimmer and Nyctalllz) that has released more than a dozen recordings, as well as being featured on various compilations. While ostensibly in the dark ambient vein, Final Crisis is better thought of as an electroacoustic release, with sounds sculpted into strange shapes, textures, and colors.

This is a concept album, wordlessly telling a story of parallel universes. As a consequence, Final Crisis has a cinematic sci-fi feel, with layered soundscapes, background crackling and rattling, and subtle processed rhythmic elements. An exemplary track is Parallel Disturbance, which begins with a deep, spacious drone. Patterned metallic friction and machine noises slowly join in, as the drones become more bass-oriented and begin to rumble. By the halfway point of this 10-minute piece, the drones have become oscillations and the machine noises have smoothed to resemble distant thunder and bells. This trend continues as the drone slowly fades and the bell-like sounds continue to echo. On the other hand, Theory of Nothing is more organic, with a sparse keyboard melody, repeated burbling, and synth waves.

As a whole, Final Crisis uses familiar components but in an innovative and absorbing fashion. This is a more than welcome effort.

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