ARKTAU EOS: Catacomb Resonator LP/CD/MC Aural Hypnox
From an oversized CD wallet to the LP/MC/CD boxed set, Aural Hypnox really are making waves with their output now; and all are gloriously hand printed and customised as well.
The album itself is one long 37-minute track (broken up for vinyl with extra tracks on the cassette); and is minimalistic in its reverberated approach to the genre, which is for the most part, quietly ominous.
‘Catacomb Resonator’ comes across as one long sonic movement as such; and requires the volume turning up a notch to fully appreciate what is at play here. Sparse and desolate, there is a definitive flow that goes into rise and fall over its duration.
Whilst driving an ultimately different approach to previous work, there is much to become engrossed in here, even if it just falls short of previous output in the variation scheme of things; feeling much more akin to traditional Dark Ambient and lacking a touch of imagination because of it.
Overall though, this is a decent slab of DA and should be sought out if you are a follower of the genre as a whole; and my misgivings are only highlighted because of previous releases, which I would suggest you also listen to and compare.
AEOGA Obsidian Outlander LP/CD Aural Hypnox
The solo project of Antii Haapapuro has gained great momentum output wise, with a continuous flow of engaging Dark Ambient that grinds into motion with the gripping ‘Initiatory Boil’, teetering on ritualism with its rumbling percussive elements.
These clatters of sound make a vague appearance along the path this album treads; but subtlety is the key to this releases effectiveness and Aeoga plays to its genre hinged strengths. Layers of drones are unexaggerated, giving life to key waves of ambience as they gently glue themselves as one.
Where space is required, Aeoga dares to hinge here, on the lightest of touches that prepare the tale to come. It’s this attention to detail that makes this one of the better releases to come out of the Aural Hypnox stable; and one, which sits the artist along similar scales of artists from larger labels within the scene.
As usual the artwork is second to none; and the vinyl version comes in two editions (silver or gold print). Given the format, this also tells the tale in the length of this release; which ultimately assists in the impact (and its main strength) of the album as a whole.
HALO MANASH: Elemental Live Forms MMV-Initiation CD Aural Hypnox
First things first, the packaging on this album is splendid. Housed in a screen-printed cardboard cover, the CD is accompanied by an eight-page booklet alongside eight postcard inserts in a stamped envelope, ultimately feeling quality; and value for money.
Comprising of nine previously unreleased movements, presented only once as a live ritual; this was the first ever performance of Halo Manash in Finland 2005. Overall, this feels less restrained than their ‘studio’ work and ultimately feels oiled and relaxed, with a greater degree of actual musicality; coming forth no doubt from the live instrumentation factor.
Intensity shifts throughout the proceedings, which ebb and flow nicely; and I am sure this would have produced a greater effect on any listener should they have been in attendance that night; as they get swept away into the hypnotic flow that permeates the output.
Given the drive that this act portray across all their works, it has to be admired that this performance doesn’t feel improvised in any shape or form; and that in itself has to be commended, given the nature of the songs they construct.
I am not a great lover of live albums as a whole, if truth-be-told. Unless the listener was in attendance then I rarely see the point in obtaining the recording. However, these are the only recordings of this ritual expression, so there is validity and worth in keeping the collection complete if you’re an avid fan.
ARKTAU EOS: Mirrorion CD Aural Hypnox
Being devoid of electric instrumentation gives this album a distinct analogue feel; but then a lot of Aural Hypnox’s roster approaches their Dark Ambient in this manner. Given the title and the artwork (especially the limited version), there is a feeling of light breaking through the dark clouds that are spewed forth from the bowels of this act; and it is refreshing to feel this as short bursts of a frost-tinged breeze, with maybe a hint of the coming of Winter.
Seventeen tracks come in at just over an hour, so this is definitely one for the patient; but then, the audience this is aimed at should have this in abundance. The ritualism comes as a subtle nod to the arcane; and the undercurrent of chimes and vibrations of sound work well in applying this thematically, without force. Indeed, it all feels vey natural and understated.
As stated, this is a lengthy affair; and I feel this album would have benefitted from shortening its time span into two parts for the overall effect. However, whilst this may in part feel overworked because of the endurance factor, there is a lot on here that is a pleasure to digest; and indeed some genuine musicality, which came as a surprise. Occasional acoustic instrumentation drags this album away from the Aural Hypnox ethos somewhat; and treads water where many a Cold Meat Industry artist wades (which is of course, no bad thing at all).
HALO MANASH: Haudattujen Valvoja CD Aural Hypnox
Another album in the “Sublunar” series of Halo Manash’s prolific output; exploring the nether regions of ritual ambience and pitch black persona, which appears to be their overall forte full-stop.
Creeping and desolate, there isn’t that much to differ between releases; and this groups ethos seems to be that if it aint broken then why try fix it; either that or they have reached the pinnacle of their limitations.
Layering is as clean as always with the mob giving each area of instrumentation and sound the required space to breathe; and this is done with a heavy death rattle of throbbing bass, that shudders along through the mists of forests and caves accompanied by dripping water and ranged sonic interruption.
To dig too deep into the albums of Halo Manash would inevitably draw more on the concept and spiritualism as a whole that blanket all their releases. Musically speaking, where one album ends, another picks up the candle; proceeding through their endless caverns of gloom, donned in the heavy cloak of pure misery. It’s engaging stuff as always, but I just wish they would step out towards the light a little (even if from afar) to provide a different perspective.
AEOGA: Triangle of Nebula-Devourers & Palace For Vultunales CD Aural Hypnox
Effectively this is a reissue of two EP’s first released in 2005, repackaged and brought together as a compilation album; which seems to be a standard thing to do nowadays when the initial releases were in a limited format.
For those that have not heard these previous affairs, this collection draws on ranging drones, tribal percussion and rich deep and gritty ambient that pulls on every corner of the listener’s psyche. There is of course a tendency to play on the obvious now and again, with the occasional chanting monk vocal; but given when these were initially released it can be forgiven. Nowadays, many an act would steer away from this medium as time brings a progression in sound; but it does give an old school feel to the proceedings nonetheless.
A raw approach to textures give an abrasive edge to the overall production and this in turn brings a distinct visceral scratch to the senses; and there is a distant impression of agony and despair that permeates these two releases when they are taken on board as a whole collective.
Overall, this is worth any lover of Dark Ambient and ritualism giving it some ear time, as this will take them back to a simpler stage in the evolution of the genre, even if Aeoga were out of step somewhat, way back then.
HALO MANASH: Wesieni Wainajat CD Aural Hypnox
Living and breathing their music through what appears to be some form of occult knowledge/belief system, has provided Halo Manash with at least some sense of continuity and concept that drives each album as one whole organism.
‘Wesieni Wainajat’ is mainly built from organs, field recordings and other instrumentation, which I am quite unsure of. Mysticism prevails throughout this lengthy affair, where ritualism provides the listener with music that is otherworldly and dripping in arcane sensibilities.
Neither solely producing Dark Ambient, or anything as monolithic as the guitar driven Sunn O)), they sit somewhere in between; but are no less ominous in their approach. You can almost visualise Halo Manash conjuring this up from the bowels of a Scandinavian forest, clawing at the earth whilst beacons burn into the witching hour.
For some, this mainly Finnish act will be hard to consume as they pander to no particular crowd, whilst inviting welcome gestures from many a genre that toys with similar subject matter. The end result; is an album of purely night driven music that oozes in atmosphere and hidden esotericism that is as engaging as it is cloaked in a web of hidden horrors.
I.CORAX: From Goldem Flesh to Silverb One / Kuilu CD’s Aural Hypnox
‘From Goldem Flesh to Silverb One’ is a re-issue of I.Corax’s third album, which had endured a period of unavailability. This has been credited as a live studio rehearsal, in preparation for a show in 2003.
Given the nature of how this has been cobbled together, this comes across as on as one singular experience built up from eight untitled pieces of work that join at the hip. Mysterious drones and ritualistic Dark Ambient atmospherics interweave and meld into a pot of disorientation; whilst undercurrents of natural sounds and whispers scatter the waves like some hidden incantation.
The overall effect is quite jarring and unnerving; and I can imagine that with the appropriate visualisations, this would be quite effective in a performance environment. In one sitting at home however, it can be a little weighty and distracting to endure end to end; as the live nature of this album does give way to a slight lack of cohesiveness. This can of course be forgiven in equal measure and all in all this is a solid piece of work from start to finish.
‘Kuilu’ is the sister album in release terms to the former (indeed both have been released as a limited box set as well as separate items. On this occasion this recording is taken from the bands debut live show, comprising of four tracks that span over 40 minutes in total. Careful thought had been placed into providing a performance that starts of relatively subdued, only to rise to dramatic effect as it trudged ominously forward; culminating in a wash of Progressive Space synth sounds.
It’s interesting to note, that later work from this act provides a more visceral experience than what I experienced throughout the course of these two albums; and it appears as time moves forward, I.Corax are falling deeper down the path of madness mapped out from their inception. Scoring is based on the both albums played back to back as a whole.
LINGUA FUNGHI: Melankhton CD Aural Hypnox
Field recordings more often than not have received many a bad review from me over the years, where I have encountered a vast amount of pointless nonsense. Luckily, Lingua Funghi utilise an array of acoustic instrumentation to gel the natural sound sources just as a base foundation to their work.
Drones and reverbs are the order of the day, alongside an array of tribal rhythms to create a barrage of ethereal and other worldly apparitions of sound, that for me actually work best when the drums are kept to a minimum.
Underneath everything is a bed of wire like electronics that edge towards modernised glitch; that build a spiders web for everything else to slowly drip off. There is more than the odd smattering of Dark Ambient along the way too to fill out the mix.
This is a peculiar album that teeters on the edge of two or three lower genres under the DA umbrella. I am less taken with the electroacoustic work on ‘Melankhton’, which comes across a little bit too much like sat at a campsite in Tibet, suffocating in a cloud of incense.
However, the key thing to remember here is that everything is performed well enough for me to brush aside my personal likes and dislikes; and I am sure there will be others who prefer this to the arcane groans and grit that are more up my street.
Overall, on a professional level, this beautifully screen printed re-issue works well for variation and structure; where the balance greatly shifts from dark to light at the drop of a hat.
ARKTAU EOS: Scorpion Milk CD Aural Hypnox
Rather than calling themselves a ‘band’ in the traditional sense of the word, Arktau Eos refer to themselves as an “esoteric exploration unit”; which in fairness, does fit somewhat with the fruits of their labour.
This should be approached as a singular meditative release. The album consists of just one long minimalistic track (48:04), utilising the bare bones of what appears to be acoustic instrumentation, such as bows and possibly other stringed items; culminating in a series of ranged drones.
Spatial awareness is the key and strength to the end result of ‘Scorpion Wind’. Silence plays as much of a role as sound, in providing omnipresent glue for barely audible chants to roam the catacombs, whilst forbidden whispers are muttered in secret corners.
There is without doubt, going to be a somewhat marmite response to an album such as this, now it has been re-packaged and re-issued to a larger audience. On one hand there isn’t a great deal to inspect or say when approaching a release such as this (such is its minimalism); yet somewhere within the realms of the void this presents, I cannot help but score this decently due to the preposterous nature it presents as music, Akin to a stripped down and less urgent, narcoleptic Sunn O))).