AMN Reviews: Various Artists – New State Of Flux (2021; Reverse Alignment)

Some people collect seashells and others collect sports memorabilia. Raffaele Pezzella collects labels. More specifically, labels that focus on dark ambient, drone, and experimental noises from around the world. Reverse Alignment joined Pezzella’s stable in early 2021 and this compilation is its first release since the merger.

Initially operated by Kristian Widqvist out of Sweden from 2007-2020, the label features a number of well-known dark ambient artists as well as a handful of lesser-recognized acts (e.g., Jarl, Taphephobia, Ajna, Diskrepant, VelgeNaturlig, Dodsapparaten). New State of Flux consists of mostly unreleased material from these artists as well as others in the ambit of Unexplained Sounds Group, Pezzella’s parent label.

The sounds on the album vary accordingly. Jarl provides oscillating and shimmering drones, while VelgeNaturlig offers up pulsing waves of synths. On the other hand, Henrik Meyerkord combines layered ambiance resembling an organ with prickly electroacoustics. Derelict Relay and Joao Sousa’s Claustro em Ruinas (Cloister in Ruins) is a slow-building set of thick walls with a haunting bell-like melody.

One of the most interesting pieces is from B*TONG, and is an amalgam of walled noise, static, and recorded voices. At only two and a half minutes, it is one of the shortest tracks on the album. Diskrepant also provides one of the stronger efforts, with wordless vocals, rumbling bassy sounds, tectonic crackling, and synth. Another high point is the dissonant, vibrating drones of Brian C. Short.

Nonetheless, the discussion of these particular pieces is for reference. There are no weak or even medicore recordings on New State of Flux. Each track exists in its own ecosystem and context. This makes the compilation a must-have for newcomers to experimental dark ambient as well as experienced listeners. Bravo to all.