Spring. The sun is warm, flowers are blooming, and birds are chirping. Meanwhile, dark ambient enthusiasts huddle behind drawn shades and closed doors listening to albums of doom, despair, and nightmares from beyond Hell. Occasionally, we come out to snack and absorb weird glares from our families.
Metatron Omega – ISIH (2022; Cryo Chamber)
Metatron Omega’s latest release answers the question of what choral music might sound like in an intergalactic church. ISIH is the fifth album by this dark ambient artist, and focuses on smooth, sweeping drones coupled with layers of wordless chanting. Percussion either booms in the background or provides a focal rhythm. A significant portion of the vocalizations are deep, either Gregorian in nature or bordering on throat singing. From time to time, this is accentuated by distorted spoken word passages in the foreground as well as machine noises, scraping, and electroacoustics. The rhythms vary from simple to complex, with ritualistic patterns. ISIH is all about the majestic and the mysterious, and makes for a compelling late-night listen in a candlelit room.
Mario Lino Stancati – Vairagya (2022; Unexplained Sounds Group)
On Vairagya, Mario Lino Stancati explores heavy synth textures and waves that, coupled with repeating patterns of percussion, build into chaotic walls of tension. These gliding layers are frequently bright but perpetually ominous. One of the more abstract tracks on this album of abstractions is Panta Xekina, which includes drones, sculpted synth, and rattling background elements. There is a strong retro feel throughout harkening back to Kosmiche music of the early 1970s (Klaus Schulze in particular), but Stancati interprets these influences through a fresh and idiosyncratic lens. On the other hand, Orlata all’indietro is a brief interlude that takes a different approach by incorporating acoustic guitar and additional effects. Later tracks are more “electronic” and exhibit bouncy sequencing. All of this adds up to an intriguing and enigmatic release.
TenHornedBeast – The Lamp of No Light (2022; Cold Spring Records)
TenHornedBeast (Christopher Walton) offers up five long tracks on his first release since 2017. In addition to synths, Walton appears to use stringed instruments (or synths tuned to mimic string instruments) to generate slowly moving and discordant drones. Pounding and crackling elements echo in the background as does no small amount of rumbling. A few passages include wailing electric guitar feedback to further weigh down the mood. The Lamp of No Light is a portal to infernal regions full of fire and brimstone. The journey through these hellscapes is deliberately paced, giving ample time for apprehension and dread to build in the traveler.