AMN Reviews: Ugasanie – Freedom and Loneliness (2020; Cryo Chamber)

From the cover art, it is not clear whether Ugasanie’s Freedom and Loneliness is attempting to evoke a distant past or a post-apocalyptic future. But as a main progenitor of polar ambient – a style of dark ambient that musically interprets the vast, cold expanses of the far north – the latest release from Belarusian Pavel Malyshkin is a welcome addition to this niche genre.

Despite its theme, Freedom and Loneliness is not a set of empty soundscapes. While it consists primarily of deep, rumbling drones with subtle background variations, Malyshkin also incorporates field recordings and even what sounds like processed acoustic instrumentation. Nor are these windswept and cinematic atmospheres bereft of life. Ritualizistc chants permeate some tracks, as does running water and animal noises. There is a barely-perceivable sense of foreboding, as if danger – human or otherwise – is present for the unwary. Nonetheless, the album ends on a melancholy note, with a gentle piano melody accompanied by soft background drones.

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