Tagged: dark

Farewell to the Sun: a disappointing debut for a promising doom / post-BM band


Vow of Thorns, Farewell to the Sun, Canada, Forest Dweller Inc., CD digipak (2016)

Although the foursome from southern Ontario have been playing together for some 8 years, Vow of Thorns haven’t had an impressive discography so far and only this year (2016) did they release their first album “Farewell to the Sun”. From the sound of it – and I’ve played it a few times already – I’m wondering if maybe even releasing it this year was a bit premature for VoT. There’s some very good atmospheric post-BM music here but taken as a whole the album lacks direction and focus, and much of it seems circular, repetitive and lacking in energy. I’m sure the members worked hard and long on this recording so I’m disappointed for them that it hasn’t turned out the way it could have done.

For a start there are three tracks that form a “Farewell to the Sun” trilogy within the album of the same name so listeners might query whether these songs, totalling 23 minutes altogether, couldn’t have been hived off as a separate album or EP release from the other tracks. For all that, there’s no great difference between those songs and the rest of the album, and the entire recording could have been an overarching work of six connected chapters. At least three tracks on the album, none of them related to one another, are 10+ minutes in length and listeners are hard-pressed to figure out why any one of these should be as long as it is, given that the music often wanders from one set of riffs or melodies to the next without anything being resolved within the song.

Opening track “Meeting on the Astral Plane” seems promising enough as it features some blistering BM energy mixed with passages of emotive doom filtered through a BM sheen along with some solid heavy metal melodic crunch and moments of quiet acoustic meditation within its 10-minute limit. The level of playing is solid throughout and the musicians pour their hearts and souls into the music. Can it be possible that they’re a bit too swept away by the music to the point of overplaying and the song ends up overstaying its welcome? There are moments where it seems there are other songs within “Meeting …” struggling to emerge and the musicians’ attention is diverted to indulging these within the original song and losing sight of what they should be doing. This is a problem that recurs on other tracks later, especially on the album’s other long songs.

You’d expect the “Farewell to the Sun” tracks to form a self-contained set in which a definite musical narrative can be heard. Part I at least starts off as a long instrumental intro. Part II takes up the baton and some of the musical themes but then starts falling apart during its fifth to sixth minutes with pauses that deflate the music’s momentum. From then on there’s a long, long haul back up to where we started. Perhaps the agony and anguish are intended but, jeez, the journey is excruciating. Part III similarly is an endurance test through doomy post-BM. At the end of this set, I don’t get the feeling that whatever crises were brought up during its 20-plus minutes have been resolved and what we’ve had to undergo is an extended wallow in depression and misery.

Much of the music actually isn’t bad, the album could have junked out a lot of the more repetitive sections and been a much tighter and more focused work. The production, while good, doesn’t serve the music too well, not allowing the more contemplative and atmospheric parts to be what they should be (that is, contemplative and atmospheric) or giving the heavier, more crunching riffs the three-dimensional solidity they need. The main problem is that too many songs try to pack too much in, trying to be all things to all people, and they end up sounding very similar.

For all that, VoT have some good melodies and riffs, and the guys play very well together; they just need better song composition skills and to reconsider how they want to sound and what they want to get out of it to provide a better experience for their fans.

776: a monumental doom-sludge psychedelic re-imagining of the United States

Phantom Glue, 776, United States, Negative Fun Records, CD NF-025 (2016)

Being a typical dumb Australian, I thought “776” might have been a reference to when the Ancient Greek Olympic Games were first held. Heh-heh, is that ever a weird guess!!! Truth though is stranger than the imagination: “776” is a metonym for US band Phantom Glue’s re-imagining of the United States as having existed for over a thousand years in an alternative though parallel universe, a United States where the Declaration of Independence had not yet been signed. Appropriately the album “776” is a mix of the mythical and mystical, and the uncompromising and hard-hitting, perhaps as much a commentary on the current nation as it is an exploration of a fantasy alternative.

Opening track “Ion Cloud” and follow-up “Hundred Hand” capture both sides of the album’s concept, at once screeching hardcore, sludge, doom and psychedelic, with the music bordering on overwhelming and monstrous in parts. The vocal seems as much disembodied as distant – the Phantom Glue singer doesn’t even try to compete with the full-on bludgeon attack – as if it really is a messenger from the parallel universe of 776 come to warn us of doom. Once PG have our full attention and concentration, the band dives further into its alternate reality with “Somatic”, a slower, more sludge juggernaut track with thundering percussion, steely rhythm guitars and a squalling lead guitar snaking around the edges of the song. So concrete-crunching is this song that it’s easy to forget that it’s only five minutes long. “Somatic” pairs well with “A Worker-less Mill”, an equally monumental song and staggering in its structuring where the thumping drums take centre stage building up a tower of thudding beats. Guitars stutter or howl around the percussion and the vocals almost shrink to raspy screams. The song is crowned with a corrosive acid ambience that burns and etches deeper-than-deep holes in your consciousness.

The pile-driving psychedelia punishment continues all the way to the end; the band seems to lose a bit of momentum with “Suttungr” which starts off slowly and lethargically but recovers energy and speeds up in its second half. “Hocheim’s War” is a definite head-banging grooving rocker with as much noisy hardcore crispness and crunch as creepy acid-bleached lead guitar flurry. Closing track “Gog is Dead” is the most atmospheric song, though not necessarily in a benign way: the doom is dark, sinister and haunted-house menacing. The song builds up in overpowering intensity and immersive blackness that literally leave folks hanging on the edge of a cliff descending into a bottomless abyss.

This music is so huge, monstrous and at times terrifying that listeners might well be glad it doesn’t last long (it’s about 36 minutes in length) and the more sensitive among you might need another 36 minutes to get the band’s music and terrifying dystopian visions out of your heads. I’m almost grateful that the production on this album is less than what the music deserves – the music (especially the drumming) does have a tinny sort of sound and doesn’t feel as three-dimensional solid as it should – or I might have been sent deranged. This is one album to be heard at least once, if only so you can tell your friends you survived the experience – but just barely. Definitely an experience not to be passed up!

Moon Madness


Obscure, puzzling and near-anonymous slab of “dark ambient” chill-mode minimal drone-a-thonnery from Poland…Nusthur (ZOHARUM ZOHAR 119-2) is credited to Kallee & The Lunar Trio, an extremely low profile act which seems to comprise Karolina Kallee and Mariusz Nantur Doering, the latter appearing here as Nantur. These two have appeared on the label before, on the 2-CD comp From Earth To Sirius released in 2011; since that comp was dedicated to the works of Robert Anton Wilson, our friends were clearly compelled to call their contribution ‘Sabbah & 23 Hashisheen’, adding to the weight of musical utterances inspired directly or indirectly by William Burroughs…this “old man of the mountain” stuff has clearly not outstayed its welcome…

Nusthur may be gunning for other fish, though. There’s a quote from Omar Khayyam inside the cover, something about sending the soul through the Invisible, and the cover motif of skulls and flowers is very far from being a Grateful Dead tribute. Kallee & The Lunar Trio want to induce “trance…meditation…a soundtrack accompanying the journey into yourself”, and are happy to be associated with sleep-walking as they make this trek into the subconscious. The first track ‘Nox’ is a horrible assemblage of drab, unappealing electronic drones, utterly shapeless; you may fare better, or worse, with ‘Nox-Lunaris’, over 19 minutes of barely-audible atmospheric effects, which might be mistaken for a thunderstorm in the far distance or a supernatural throb produced when the Northern Lights cross paths with a belt of UFOs. At least this overlong stretch of abstraction does manage to convey a “nocturnal” sensation, assuming that’s the point of including a reference to the moon in its title. I kind of get the meditational point, but ‘Nox-Lunaris’ is just too insubstantial to even make an impression.

On ‘Nox-Lux’, the musicians make some concessions to making themselves heard, and while the texture and surface of this 18-minute cut are hard to grasp (terms like quagmire, mud, swamp come to mind), at least the technique of irregularly-repeated patterns and loops starts to make some sense. Kallee & The Lunar Trio refuse any conventional manner of hypnotising the audience, and seem determined to get there in a very awkward, long-winded and unfriendly manner. The cabalistic rules governing this sect are impossible to fathom, and I’m not sure I even want to join. From 14th April 2016.

Oh What An Atmosphaera!


Troum & Raison D’Être
De Aeris In Sublunaria Influxu

The press release for this meeting of German and Swedish drone overlords poses a rather touching rhetorical question; “ever wondered how a mix of Troum and raison d’être would sound like?” Well, not really, if I’m honest. But maybe I should wonder about these things. The artists are well-regarded in their field, and the music they make together isn’t bad at all.

What we have here, then, is a handsome CD package containing seven tracks of the deepest, darkest ambience. The Latin titles – “Alio Tempore”, “Oculum Mundi”, “Flammae” and so on – get my vote, suggesting as they do arcane alchemical operations or Goetic incantations. Actually, the album title has a fairly prosaic origin, since it appears to be taken from a 17th century medical treatise by Johannes Bohn. It still sounds enticingly mysterious, though.

There are enticingly mysterious qualities in the music itself, which unfolds at a geological pace, perhaps reflecting the fact that the record took four years to make. The vibe is generally heavy and cthonic, if I can get away with using that word, successfully evoking the solid elemental realm “under the moon”. Drones build, sheets of sound coalesce and reverberate, a crackle-glaze of noise is laid over the top to provide a tiny bit of light against all the shade. Admittedly there’s not much to distinguish one track from another, but that’s ambient music for you, I guess.

On the whole, this ticks most of my boxes for this type of venture, taking my head into another space for a while and altering the flow of time to some degree. Music for chymical weddings and subterranean chill-out rooms.

Christ Clad in White Phosphorus: not just another tour-de-force album by Caïna

Caïna, Christ Clad in White Phosphorus, Apocalyptic Witchcraft Recordings, digipak CD APW011 (2016)

Since reforming in 2012, Caïna continues to do no wrong from this listener’s viewpoint as it evolves from Andrew Curtis-Bicknell’s solo project  to a three-member band and the music shifting from black metal / post-BM to a black metal mixed with industrial, dark ambient, noise electronics and 80s-styled darkwave / synth-pop influences. In my little world at least, every new album release from Caïna is an event not to be missed.  Listening to Caïna’s recordings isn’t easy and most of them can be very hard-going, and not just because they can be long or because they can be so unpredictable. There is much emotional pain revealed that can resonate with dark moments in most people’s lives and a listener would have to be either dead, comatose or sociopathic not to be affected by moments in Caïna’s albums to the point of tears.

From the hellish industrial nightmare ambience created by opener “Oildrenched and Geartorn” through intense raw garage black metal filled with rage and a desire to destroy everything within hearing range in tracks like “Fumes of God” and “Entartete Kunst”; doomier and darker melodic pop-song tracks like “Gazing on the Quantum Megalith” and “God’s Tongue as an Ashtray”; the noise / dark ambient soundscapes of “The Throat of the World” … the sonic universe that arises is incredibly vast and varied yet it all crackles with energy and a malevolent spirit. If anything, there might be too much going on here (for a 53-minute album) with Caïna jumping from one style of music to another through songs that are often just 4 – 6 minutes which may not be enough time for many listeners to fully savour the sounds, the emotions, the fury and intensity of one song before they are hurled into another.

Just when you think Caïna has gone past the halfway mark and can do no more, the band goes to another level with pieces like the fusion dark ambient / jazz of “Pillars of Salt” and the harsh blizzard 90s-Norwegian styled black metal of “The Promise of Youth”. These send us to the unreal blinding-white dazzle ambient world of static and white sizzle noise that is “Extraordinary Grace”. Have we all died and gone to Heaven to meet our maker and hear the judgement to be pronounced upon us? In an album already jam-packed with experimentation and investigations into angst and melancholy, this near-psychedelic track, lasting for 12 minutes, is an astounding discovery, the proverbial diamond in a heap of black coal. This quartet of songs ends with the title track which with clean vocals, shrill guitar melodies and pulsing synth accompaniment, sounds like a noisy black metal reworking of a 1980s Goth synth-pop song.

For a band that at one point in its past almost did away with black metal completely, Caïna commit themselves to the black art with the force and aggression that comes from being fully invigorated with the music again. Perhaps bringing on board guest vocalists on previous album “Settler of Unseen Snares” and a permanent vocalist and another musician has inspired AC-B anew. Caïna’s sound is fuller, more blood-red raw and intense than I remember from earlier recordings.

Coupled with excellent production, this album presents a reborn Caïna that is at once experimental and at the same time surprisingly accessible with songs possessed of catchy tunes and beats, all arranged in a way that shorter, more conventionally oriented BM tracks (well, relatively speaking of course – we’re talking about an act whose work has always spanned several genres) come first before the more surreal pieces. It can be a lot to take in and several songs are very uncompromising in their aggression and intense delivery. This is an album that repays repeated hearings: with each spin, you may find your darkest fears and vulnerabilities exposed anew.

At this point, if Caïna never do anything else again, the band will be leaving behind a legacy of great if not always perfect albums. I rate Caïna among Britain’s greatest rock music exports, and that is really saying something even now with so much British pop and rock music in apparent decline.

Roll Up for the Ghost Train


Last noted Swedish electro-acoustic composer Åke Parmerud of Göteborg with his Growl collection, an album which appealed to some of my darker leanings. Any curious listeners who enjoyed that item may wish to lean a lug in the direction of Nécropolis (empreintes DIGITALes IMED 16137), his new release offering four more pieces which this time around are themed mostly on sleep, dreams, and ghostly voices, including perhaps the voices of the dead. Well, actually very little of that is true, but a mind like mine is disposed to seek out dark themes wherever I can find them. At least the cover art is vaguely nightmarish, depicting a shrieking or grinning skull-faced demon of a supernatural caste. Mind you, you can see scarier images any night of the week on the Horror Channel.

His ‘Dreaming In Darkness’ from 2005 is one of those classic electro-acoustic pieces that slam together different timbres and tones to create strong aural contrasts and a sense of continual forward movement, a movement which comes to a sudden stop with each timbral shift. The piece mostly swims in an unreal fantasy zone, apart from those moments when “real-world” recordings seep in, mostly playing a sound-effect role in this radiophonic drama – footsteps on wooden floorboards, church bells, and doors slamming. The piece almost tells a story and evokes sensations of sleep-walking and delirious consciousness. It’s based on the idea of what a blind person might dream about, and the move “from representative sounds to the more abstract and musical material” in this piece is wholly planned and composed. It began life as a collaboration with Natasha Barrett 1, whose work may still leave residual traces on the finished item.

‘ReVoiced’ from 2009 isn’t really anything to do with these oneiric themes, but it certainly does create a surreal effect. Composers of this ilk love to do treatments on the human voice (it is quite a familiar trope in this field, ever since the 1960s, I make bold to claim) and take spoken words out of context. Parmerud began this piece in 1992 when he conducted a world tour and recorded as many voices as he could from all over the globe, mixing them together in an almighty wodge called ‘Grains Of Voices’. Perhaps he was looking for commonality in the scattered elements of the human race, trying to solve problems which the United Nations cannot. However, not all the recordings made it into the composition, so the left-over segments have been recycled into ‘ReVoiced’. Aboriginals, folks singers and shamans all join in this virtual choir; the entire geography of the world from North to South is represented. I don’t suppose Parmerud was looking for the same things an ethno-musicologist or folk song collector would seek, nor does he strive to represent the original context accurately, but he does weave a powerful magical-realist episode from these sources.

I was hoping for a more supernatural undercurrent to ‘Necropolis – City of the Dead’ from 2011, but it turns out to be a cut-up piece of orchestral stuff, sourced from recordings of famous classical music pieces. Parmerud bolsters his idea by writing a short blurb which casts him as a fictional tour guide or carnival barker, showing tourists around imaginary catacombs where they will see and hear the ghosts of music past, warning us that they are in a state of “decomposition”. Groan, at that pun. Yes, I’ve heard that joke about Beethoven in his grave too. Actually this can be quite thrilling if you experience it as a ghost-train ride through a selective history of classical music, but the technique is not an original one, and listeners of a less conventional leaning are bound to find more satisfaction in the layerings and juxtapositions that People Like Us does so well, with her plundering and subversion of the history of pop music. Parmerud, by contrast, is just a shade too respectful to his sources and the culture of the “great composers of the past”, thus unable to produce anything more than a polite and rather literal-minded collage of sound; like hearing 200 radio sets all tuned to Classic FM at once. From 10th March 2016.

  1. British composer based in Norway; her Peat + Polymer is reviewed here.

Song from a Black House

Promotional image from label website
Promotional image from label website

We’ve got a lot of time for Paul Baran, the modern composer whose work has always posed challenging questions about contemporary society (especially UK society), a verdict which rests on two great releases for the Swedish label Fangbomb – Panoptic (2009) and The Other (2014). Now here he is as one half of The Cray Twins, performing with Gordon Kennedy, the fellow who contributed much to both the above albums (credited with drum programming, though I’m sure it goes much deeper than that). The Pier (FANGBOMB FB025) is ten pieces of highly ambiguous dark ambient music, unleashed to varying degrees of intensity – pitched to raise just the right degree of alarm, tension, or just plain existential doubt in the listener. On first spin, I’d have to say it’s far less varied than Baran’s previous work, and surface interventions such as found sounds and voices are far less noticeable (though they are in evidence). It’s also slightly less distinctive, more anonymised, perhaps on purpose. The delight in subverting the mechanics of composition so apparent in the previous works is conspicuously absent here. The music just blends seamlessly, with near-blank swathes of sounds just hanging there in an expressionless fashion, almost defying the listener to make sense of them.

Both Panoptic and The Other exhibited a heavy dependency on the work of other musicians, contributions which would then be subjected to near-ruthless reprocessing and cutting up, as Baran did his best to stamp his own identity and agenda on the original performances, diverting their directions in his favour, co-opting the sounds, colonising the work. To some extent The Cray Twins do similar, in that a number of collaborators are embedded in the fabric of The Pier, including the avant-saxophonist Lucio Capece; Gerry Kelly, with his field recordings; the voice of Nicky Miller; the clarinet of Tuomas Ollikainen; the saxophone of Ken Vandermark. That he is credited with playing a ‘mutant saxophone’ on his track may clue you in to the vaguely disturbing and radical nature of Cray Twins’ work. BJ Nilsen also appears, remixing one track. Jos Smolders contributes further field recordings on another. Yet somehow, none of these individual voices are allowed to stand out in any way; the album remains all of a piece, posing one dark riddle after another, shaking its head sadly at the state of the world.

The Pier is something to do with going out too far, with attempting to reach the edge of the world and sailing off into the void. Baran and Kennedy propose to probe the “limit of human extent” and find the sweet spot beyond which “space opens up to the unknown, the unheard”. I’d imagine they have spent a long time in the studio working with various elaborate set-ups, which probably involve computers, cables, microphones, recording devices; a long chain of dependencies. They now believe that these “audio systems” they work with are equivalent to human systems, a challenging view which is vaguely alluded to in the press notes. I’d love to know more about what they mean. Any person’s life today is also a long chain of dependencies. But some of them are good dependencies; friends, family, the community, work, play, art. Perhaps Cray Twins are interested in other “systems”, including political and economic circumstances, which tend to involve dark forces and larger unknowns, operating well beyond our control. I am speculating now, but having interviewed Baran by email I have some inkling of his predispositions. If The Pier is indeed setting out to find the weak links, the point at which these systems begin to break down, that is a very intriguing proposition. That aim may not always be fully realised by the doomy abstract music on offer here, but it has resulted in a suitable soundtrack for the questing brain to ponder such imponderables.

I like the subtly disquieting cover photograph. It seems to show the contents of a house (including the kitchen sink) leaking out into the garden, a space which is so open it’s becoming the entire countryside. And there’s an odd visual glitch in the middle of the image, a reflection of something in glass that should not be there by rights. It could almost be a lost still from Tarkovsky’s Mirror. Or a very English take on the back cover image of Trout Mask Replica. From 24th March 2016.

Hurricane Fighter Plane


Austrian multi-media performer Opcion might be Nikos Zachariadis, who has previously traded his brand of harsh techno-inflected noises as Ab-Hinc and Canc. Finding a lot to get my teeth into on his vinyl slab Monos/Und (GOD RECORDS GOD32), his full-length debut performing as Opcion, following a couple of short tracks he threw onto the Schiizo Box compilation for Rock Is Hell records in 2014.

On the A side of this platter, he treats us to three solo bursts called simply ‘Monos’ 1-3, exhibiting various aspects of his grim, pared-down and frowny approach to dark ambient electronic noise, sometimes punching home his abstracted messages with nasty fuzzed-up beats and mind-numbing loops. ‘Monos 2’ is the most successful instance here, delivered with a near-merciless approach that will mangle the nerves of any sensitive listener; plenty of razor-sharp tension and dread in every disquieting second of noise. Throughout, it’s interesting to note Opcion’s refusal of conventional structure, and he attempts to break as many rules as possible about form and progression in the space of five minutes.

The B side contains the fruit of his collaborations with three European musicians, duets with Maja Osojnik, Bernhard Loibner and Kurt Bauer. One assumes they improvised together at some point, but it’s hard to tell from the finished works which have been severely distressed, processed, and re-edited to a radical degree. Maja Osojnik recently released the astonishing Let Them Grow, and her versatility with instruments and sound is stretched to the limit on ‘N MO’. Over five minutes of lurching and straining ugliness, driven into a schizophrenic state by Opcion’s over-zealous editing.

Bernhard Loibner’s electric bass is mutated into an alien presence on ‘N BL’, where once again the reconstruction process has been designed for extreme dynamics and maximum shock value, by turns soothing the listener with sweet drones and pummelling us with animalistic roars and heavy poundage to the chest. Kurt Bauer’s violin is likewise twisted beyond any recognisable form on ‘N KB’, demonstrating that the trend of Opcion’s remix strategy leans towards the production of strange and unnatural sounds, with no attempt to realistically capture the voice of any given instrument.

In all these collaborations, Opcion aims for heart-stopping shifts in timbre and tone; it’s as if he’s afraid we’ll fall asleep if he doesn’t activate 18 fire alarms every ten seconds. This guy must be a riot at cocktail parties. To further indicate his aggressive intentions, the sleeve art is decked out with images of fighter planes silhouetted against an uncertain monochrome sky; the planes themselves are cut-outs, visual “samples” if you will, forewarning the purchaser of Opcion’s method and intentions. Very good. From 1st February 2016.

Disabled By Fears

In February this year we noted a couple of CDRs from Emanuele Lago, a highly prolific Italian fellow who makes dark ambient electronic music under numerous aliases, some of it following a supernatural bent, and publishes it on his own Psychotic Release imprint. On 2nd March 2016 he sent three more instances of his craft.


As Ghastly Marshes, he made Ancient Spirits Of The Fen (PRCD20) around the winter of 2015-2016, aided by the visual skills of D. Finley (Invercauld), who provided the front cover image of stark fenland trees lit up in ghostly white against an uncertain night sky. With titles referring to ghosts, fog, witches, spirits, tears, anxiety and solitude, the listener can be sure of a highly atmospheric sojourn in a spooked-out zone for 60 minutes. Indeed the 15 titles are so elaborate they pretty much tell a story, chapter headings to a chilling ghost story where we can feel ourselves being pursued through inescapable woods by unknown supernatural agents. The sound of Ghastly Marshes is not especially inventive, but I do like the open-ended nature of these ghostly tones which refuse to resolve into recognisable musical chords or tunes, and simply murmur with a mixture of sighs, moans, and eerie winds passing gently through the branches overhead. Ancient Spirits Of The Fen may appear understated and samey, but there is a lot of information and detail packed into these evocative grooves. This is his second release under this name after 2014’s Shallafrost Course And Other Tales, which also appeared on cassette.


As Kurai Keshiki, Lago’s plan is to work with urban field recordings to produce supernatural ambient vibes, as noted on the earlier Mozaiku. In like manner, Senseeshon (PRCD19) is based on “samples and field recordings taken during real life – home, job and small travels”; there is some electronic processing, but not much, and the discipline here is to keep himself away from the keyboards, synths, and computers, in order to extract the underlying qualities of mystery and sorrow he craves from these mundane aural snapshots. Another understated release, but the nuances of light and shade are quite different to those on Ancient Spirits, and the work is filled with mysterious silences and gaps punctuating equally mysterious events. Real life is subtly transformed into a slow-moving dream, and as we listen we’re walking over pavements and roads like a ghost inhabiting a deserted shopping mall. Unlike the work of “serious” phonographers who have political and social agendas and are quick to point out the ground truths of the places in which they set up their microphones, Kurai Keshiki makes no claims to objectivity at all; the work represents Emanuele Lago’s highly personal (and somewhat introverted) take on his surroundings. As such, I like it just fine.


Black Mountains Chronicles was another mantle adopted by Lago, I think as a follow-up to his Tombstone alias; the intention here is to mix ambient with industrial sounds, and explore dark gothic horror themes. My Lolly: Or, The Shadow Of Her Former Self (PRCD18) is dedicated to the memory of a black cat, and right away you may think that Lago wishes to project the image of himself as a warlock with his familiar rather than a sentimental animal lover. I’m not sure if it’s as simple as that however, as the printed dedication reads “In loving memory of Lolly” and the titles make many references to the theme of rebirth and revenants, as if by making this music he was weaving a spell which could bring his beloved pet back from the dead. If this interpretation is halfway right, the record represents a compelling set of dark magick rituals mixed with more wholesome and down-to-earth emotions, so that the listener is halfway to being frightened to death by these stern ambient tones while simultaneously welcoming the brief apparitions of the cat; Lolly’s voice, I think, surfaces as a brief sample on at least one track, though its plaintive mew is more like a strange bark, and one imagines the poor creature is much puzzled by its passage through the afterlife. In all, the depressing ambient drizzle here will do much to dampen your enthusiastic mood, yet the clouds are sometimes shot through with glimpses of hope, and there are occasional skewed perspectives showing vistas of the world beyond.

No website; to buy these, email rerechan@alice.it