BlackWeald – 666 Minutes in Hell (2021)
At first blush, Blackweald’s 666 Minutes in Hell may seem gimmicky, as it literally is 666 minutes in length (over 11 hours) of hellish soundscapes. But this prolific Hungarian purveyor of cinematic, haunting, and experimental drones put months of effort into the release (along with several album-length releases) in 2020. While squarely in the dark ambient territory, with spacious rumbling waves and layers of synth, Blackweald also includes occasional guitar, percussion, field recordings, spoken word recordings, and even some singing. Though it is too long for one sitting, 666 Minutes in Hell is good background music to put on as you carry out your daily lockdown routine. But take a moment or two to listen to the details – if it was released as 11 separate albums, each would have been notable in its own right.
Grey Frequency – Paranormal (2021)
As a follow-up to 2019’s Ufology, Grey Frequency (Gavin Morrow) returns with an aptly-titled album about humankind’s interaction with the paranormal. That said, the music is more synth-driven and reminiscent of the Berlin school than most recent dark ambient of note. Thus, the album moves between pulsing drones, sequenced patterns, and mechanical elements. The themes are largely repeating, with distinct rhythms and foreground noises. Still, the requisite disquiet and spookiness are present on all tracks, as if there is something sinister just out of sensory range.