VROMB: Le Pecheur de Noyes CD Box Nautilus/Spectre
Holy bloody moley there is nothing like good packaging. This is purely amazing; An A5 card sleeve in matt black with silver print, topped off with stickers and a highly quality badge/pin all sealed in an embossed matt black box, I shouldn’t be surprised really as Vromb has always had brilliantly packed albums. But this is stunning.
As with all of Spectre’s, sub label ‘Nautilus releases this has an aquatic theme and this of course is no different. ‘Le pêcheur de noyés’ tells the true story of a certain Roger Gerard, a scuba diver who searched for the corpses of people who had unfortunately met their untimely end drowned at the bottom of the ocean. One of those hobbies that I can imagine doesn’t appeal to everyone; but everyone has to have a hobby I guess.
So onto the music; Vromb has always been a prolific, exciting member amongst the legions of dark and eclectic ambience circles out there and this release again is of no exception. Brisk water like sounds and ambient elements have been captured perfectly and edged along with the use of harmonica and other pulsating electronic sub noises, with waves of oxygen filtering through masks that can only be described as that of the subject influence, scouring his way across the sea bed, in search of what can be quite frankly penned as morbid to say the least.
Where a lot of ambient releases fail is that they go on and on with no way out, forever drifting aimlessly. This album has you half way through before you even realise you are there, being interesting enough to hold you and obscure enough to make you think, never once drifting down the avenues of boredom and such like.
An awesomely packaged album, and wonderfully composed; ultimately essential listening for those that require something new and different and unquestionably collectable for all the fanatics out there who have worshipped this acts previous releases.
THIS MORN’ OMINA: Inferno CD Spectre
Belgium’s finest are an odd bunch. Releasing some of the most influential dance floor related distorted beat and whatnot, slaying club goers left right and centre with hits such as ‘One Eyed Man’, they always trundle off back to their underground holes to feed their Dark Ambient demons now and again. I have a lot of respect for artists who release what they want rather than pander to a more financially lucrative audience.
‘Inferno’ is a three-track affair, mightily long tracks mind so don’t be disillusioned into thinking this is anything less than a full length release. Rather than heading down the pathway to hell as I imagined, this is a rather lighter affair than I first envisaged it being and has a very subtle psychedelic overtone to some of the airy synth management early on in the mix bringing in familiar tribalism’s on the beat front later on; fans of TMO of course will be more than aware of what I am relating to here, and this does pander to the occult following Industrial crowd a little more.
Lets not forget of course that I mentioned Dark Ambient earlier on, of which this release is in abundance. Necessary cavernous spaces are interrupted occasionally with glitches and areas of noise so that the spatial surroundings are not left too empty for the listener, and moods change at will.
Rather than the title would suggest, this is not the blazing hot hellish barrage of noise that you could be led to believe; it is in fact an almost cold journey such is the sparse barren landscape they are portraying and the menacing background samples only convey that feeling more as wave upon wave of isolation slowly wash over you whilst pondering your own momentary losses.
HYSTERESIS: Will + Representation CD Spectre
Blimey this was a daunting album to review. I have never in my life heard something chop and change so much that it becomes near impossible to keep up; its obvious within the first few tracks that Hysteresis change their style as much as some people change their socks.
‘Atomic Tendencies’ kick-starts everything with an underlying metal guitar structure that toys with Industrial beats at a whim with some of the most bizarre rising electronics I have heard, so much so they are on the verge of disturbing and not far off this side of a panic attack. How do you follow that up? Let me enlighten you; Hardcore Punk Grindcore, that’s what; only mixed in with glitch and massive blistering Rock-come-Gabba-come…oh I don’t know its completely indescribable, seriously.
One of the major ‘one up’s’ about this album is the fantastic use of original samples. Nowadays its easy to slot in a random vocal line you pilfered from some ‘B’ movie when you don’t know what to do artistically, yet Hysteresis make them fundamental to the core of the tracks they use them on, a necessary evil if you will that carry the music rather than filling it out.
If you decide at some point to pick up ‘Will + Representation’ (and I can’t stress enough that you do) it would be safe to say that you are going to be pretty flummoxed by it all upon initial listening; it isn’t every day that you hear Reggae and blistering Techno Breakcore mixed by some of the sounds of your worst nightmares all in one track, yet still working seamlessly leaving you only to question yourself as to what it is you can’t help but love about such an album.
Love this however, I do. It’s about time someone out there released challenging material that still has the ability to endear you and is as daring as nailing your nuts to a table. Quite simply put, this is unadulterated madness from start to finish, and a necessary injection of happiness and originality in these all too dreary times, musically speaking.
KRAKEN: Nachtschade CD/DVD Spectre
Christ are these guys prolific or what? Two aquatic themed albums for the Spectre sub-label ‘Nautilus’ and the deeply disturbing trilogy on the main label itself and now we have this double CD and DVD album to boot!
Spoken word is taken to a new level here; normally for me this does not work at all, but with Kraken they seriously know what they are playing at.
Dark, brooding menacing ambience is rich with off kilter piano and drifting levels of sound that again are dredged from the very gutters of society. This duo has an intensity about them that delves in the darkest areas of noir cinematic disturbance, and you can’t help feel that there is something clinically wrong somewhere in their quite frankly, messed up heads.
No matter, because whatever this lot are on they do it better than most. Here is the first lesson in ambient music, as it’s meant to be constructed. It’s a rarity that albums such as this come off on top, especially when it’s so stark raving mad as well (the spoken word will attest to this alone).
The best is yet to come however. The DVD part of this album is a release in itself, consisting of an albums worth of music with various footage from around the world, a lot of this being personally shot. Eloquently edited together this is a beautiful selection of works, each visually setting the tone and working in harmony with the music set to each particular piece. Both modern and classic in its approach this just adds to Nachtschade as a whole and is worth your pocket money alone.
Out and out if you are going to go out and buy a Dark Ambient album, then this pretty much tops them all. Over an hours worth of music and a wonderfully put together DVD and excellently packaged as well; this pretty much raises the bar for acts who loiter in similar genre circles. It will take some topping.
KRAKEN: Drift CD Spectre
Drift is the final chapter in a trilogy of releases on the Spectre label from this water obsessed Belgian act.
What Kraken bring to the table is a rich healthy dose of electronic-analogue ambient and I have been consistently impressed with their releases on Spectre and sub-label Nautilus, which has always devoted itself to all things wet.
There has always been something with Kraken that drifts (for want of a better word) between retro and the contemporary. Oozing along like an old horror flick that has been given a dust-down and polished, ‘Drift’ manages to engage the listener with an intensity and magic all of its own.
Ominously brooding and inky black from the off, you know this release is going to be as unsettling as it is engaging. Rich in atmosphere, layered superbly, you can feel your worst nightmares gradually catch up with you as you fall. This just happens to match everything this lot have done previously, which is impressive in itself that they manage this consistently and is a marvellous slab of Noir Dark Ambient done by consummate professionals.
For those that haven’t heard Kraken yet its highly recommended that you pick up the other two parts of this trilogy, ‘Amore’ and ‘Chagrin’ along with this release and witness the behemoth that is named after the legendary sea monster of old for yourselves.
THE [LAW-RAH] COLLECTIVE: As It Is? 2×3”CD Spectre
The first thing that hits you when you pick up this release will be the outstanding packaging. Set within a just smaller than 7” embossed sleeve lay two 3 inch CD’s. It’s a bizarre way to expose an album, but nonetheless not entirely surprising when you consider the imagination of the man behind the project.
Bauke Van Der Val is a prolific artist within experimental circles. To view Law-Rah’s works as Dark Ambient would be a farcical trip into lazy journalism, and one route I refuse to venture toward.
On with the music, there is a fundamental sincerity behind the cold resonating drones and soaring vibrations, which let themselves spill over as well as applying restriction where necessary under a state of duress.
The only shortcomings I can think of whilst listening to this release is the format itself. Not the idea, because that is fantastic. But for one constant listen it can be a pain switching over the discs, whereas I like to soak up the atmosphere and take a trip on Bauke’s immersive journeys. In this instance and for only this reason, do albums such as his last outing ‘Drones For Drella’ beat this as an outright album, but only just.
‘As it is…’ is a wonderful item for the collector in you, and is something any self respecting ambient or drone fan should indulge in. Essential.
SKINCAGE: Things Fall Apart CD Spectre
Its been six years since Jon Ray’s debut release. It’s when things take this long that you know they had better be good. There can be no half measures, no corners can be cut. So, is Skincage as sharp as it should be? This depends on what you want to cut.
The main beast of the album is formulated with home made and broken instruments, which is quite fitting with the destructive and repressive nature that this second album claws at.
Things fall apart is the sound of pure machinery in motion, it’s visceral, it’s raw, it is ground in rich swathing ambience and industrial in its purest form. Organic would be a better description.
The only down side to Skincage is that he is sometimes as engaging as also instantly forgettable. Things Fall Apart is as immersive as much as it can be counter absorbing. It’s this push me/pull me element that might actually be the point to a lot of the album. This could be just where Ray has got over engrossed in his activities and forgot to take a step back, relying too much on the promise of a listener actually having to pay way more attention than should be needed.
However, this second outing is also richly rewarding when given the chance. Noisy, and desolate in equal parts, downright brutal and spacious in equal measure.