Netherworld is Alessandro Tedeschi, an Italian ambient droner based in Rome, described by one online resource as a specialist in “Stern Ambient” – a useful splinter genre of which he might be the only proponent. He’s here today with Vanishing Lands (GM048), released on his own label Glacial Movements, a label which (as we noted last time) has established a very distinctive brand identity centred around the idea of arctic wastes and extreme cold, to the extent that every single CD released on this label must have a cover photo of snowy wastes and bleak icy scapes.
Netherworld himself has been lowering the temperature of the world, one degree at a time, since 2004 – starting out on the Umbra label with his Eternal Frost, and occasionally teaming up with other slow droners like Nadja. While Netherworld is the kind of name we’d tend to associate with Black Metal (in fact there is an Australian BM band by this name) or other Hell-dwelling types, the mood I’m enjoying on today’s spin of Vanishing Lands is quite some way from the infernal or the diabolical, and it projects not just a sensation of intense coldness but also one of deep darkness. Indeed he manages to create, in sound, a presence so strong that we feel enveloped by it, wrapped tightly in a blanket, and this in spite of the ultra-minimal nature of the sounds and the music. At one level, it’s almost a comforting feeling, but this is some way from what Tedeschi actually intends – he wants this record to stand as a warning of some sort, and “a cry of desperation” as he states in his notes. My first reading of this warning was that it might be directed at the global warming crisis – “we are one step away from the abyss”, he cautions, perhaps summarising all the scientific climate change data that has been made available to the world in recent years. But then I learn he made the entire record during the COVID pandemic, so maybe that’s the abyss we’re currently nearing.
It’s entirely possible that Vanishing Lands can function as a more generalised statement about futility and desolation, corresponding to an internal psychological state or even the entire fate of mankind. Whichever way you take it, there’s no doubt that Vanishing Lands is a superbly crafted piece of ambient music, each note, sound, and element laid down in such a way as to convey a sense of real import and moment. Netherworld offers an intensely beautiful form of lonely, chilling desolation. From 10 May 2022.