AMN Reviews: Shrine – Nausicaä (2022; Cyclic Law)

Shrine is a moniker of Hristo Gospodinov, whose works often get placed in the rough category of dark ambient. But Gospodinov’s futuristic soundscapes are quite varied, though often influenced by dystopian science fiction.

Exploring a future Earth covered with deadly flora, he employs gritty textures, breathy, fuzzed-out drones, and a surprising amount of steady patterns of percussion. The latter, when present, drives these pieces along at a rapid clip. Indeed, there is a fair amount of repetition in general, with themes slowly developing over the course of several minutes, building to crescendo. These fragments ebb and flow in both the foreground and background.

As Shrine’s first album-length effort in almost three years, Nausicaä is a suffocating statement on humanity’s fragile relationship with nature. While synthesized, the sounds present as organic, perhaps their hazy aspects adding a degree of appealing imperfection to the tones. The production is dense and claustrophobic, yet windswept and alien. As an example of synth-driven music with the haunting atmospheres of dark ambient combined with elements of electronica and post-industrialism, you cannot do much better.

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