SPHÄRE SECHS – PARTICLE VOID
The Cryo Chamber label is a reliable source if you are looking for dark, cinematic ambient. The label’s name alone refers to outer space sci-fi adventures – and indeed: this album feels like ‘floating in cold space in a warm cozy spacesuit’.
Sphäre Sechs (‘Sixth Sphere’) is Martin ‘Phelios’ Stürtzer and Christian Stritzel. This is their third album, preceded by Tiefschlaf (2012) and Enceladus (2015) – it seems their hibernation cycle length is exactly three years. They create their music using a multitude of analogue gear, that they clearly master skillfully.
Particle Void ‘focuses on the space beyond the material’. No one knows what to expect from that place beyond imagination. But judged by this music, it’s not an uncomfortable place at all.
It may however take some time to get back to Earth at the end of this trip.
BANISHED PILLS – FAILURE
More down to earth (as opposed to outer space), but no less enigmatic is this release by Banished Pills, or Edoardo Cammisa from Italy.
Cammisa creates his music combining all kinds of sound sources: field recordings, assembled sounds, analog electronics, drones, mics and contact mics into musique-concrête like drone pieces.
Pieces that are quite dark in nature on this album – but you probably already guessed that from the title (and the alias). If you didn’t already, the track titles like Absorption, Wane, Gloom, Edge, Moth, Void will probably help you to get in the proper listening mood.
The inspirational quote for this album comes from Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea: ‘ I am the one who pulls myself from the nothingness to which I aspire’.
Let this be a warning before you start listening: Failure is a strangely restrained album of gloom and anxiety.
FALSE MIRROR – SIGINT
I probably should be ashamed, but the name False Mirror did not ring a bell and this album is my first encounter with this one man project of Berlin-based Tobias Hornberger. Malignant Records introduces this album as ‘the return of one of the giants of the dark ambient genre’ – the follow-up of 2010’s Derelict World. And, judged by this album, I have missed something indeed. Time to catch up.
Sigint is thematically inspired by all kinds of ‘secret communication signals’. This means sound source ‘include recordings of various electronic transmissions, encrypted messages of the German BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst – the foreign intelligence agency) and Russian FNB (previously called KGB), beacons, over-the-horizon radars, and troposcatter communications.’
But not just those found sounds make up this album: the sources are encapsulated in rich and detailed deep ambient soundscapes.
Soundscapes that I would personally not strictly call ‘dark’, like the cover image which eerie, but not really ‘dark’ in the classic sense. This music indeed is ‘a perfectly conceptualized harmony of calming warmth and barren isolation.’
If you like to unravel hidden messages go for the CD version, which has a 12 page ‘cryptographic manual’ to decrypt a hidden message in the closing track (the one with the shortwave spy numbers) that can be used to unlock a bonus track.