AMN Reviews: Pilgrimage to Pleroma / Ashtoreth, Marko Neuman & Stratosphere – UR (2022; Consouling Sounds)

This split album consists of two long tracks, respectively from Pilgrimage to Pleroma (Mattias M. Van Hulle) and the trio of Ashtoreth (Peter Verwimp), Marko Neuman, and Stratosphere (Ronald Mariën). Both offerings explore dark, cinematic, synth-driven spaces.

Inspired by the boundlessness of nature, Apeiron from Pilgrimage to Pleroma is a haunting set of slow-moving drones. Scraping and plucking of stringed instruments rapidly ensue, maintaining a strong presence throughout the remainder. Soft martial percussion provides repeating beat patterns. The tone of this piece calls forth the vastness it represents, both in space and time, especially as it fades over the last few minutes into soft (yet menacing) layers of drones.

In contrast, Phobos & Deimos from Ashtoreth and company makes heavy use of guttural vocalizations, screams, and harsh spoken words from multiple individuals atop ominous synth chording. Both powerful and quite disturbing, these elements evoke the loneliness and isolation that we have all experienced over the last two-plus years. The synth and voices are accompanied by subtle environmental noises and rumbling bass. This sums to a driving and forceful 30-minute excursion that is relentlessly anxiety-ridden.