Akoustik Timbre Frekuency
In this case, Akoustik Timbre Frekuency creates a conceptual album of only two long sibling songs, “Thee Dark Night Of Thee Soul” and “Banishing Thee Dark Night Of Thee Soul”. The moment endowed with great energies decided the recording of this album. It was “just after the New Moon, when thee night is at its darkest”. The musician explains that he had fallen deep asleep and awaken early in the morning with a vision he later tried to repaint and embody through music.
Therefore the first track is constructed around a drone-reverie melody, bereft of contours and suggesting altered shapes, a development similar to the confusion that reigns the subconscious, where anything can become the opposite and vice-versa. The other track marks a bipolar awakening, it seems to give image to the process of regaining judgement, but from a different perspective than he had before this dark night of the soul. The heavy bodies of sound that filled spaces in the dream state before, now they are dismantling, swift into vapour and lose their weight. Soundwise, instruments prevail over analogue synths or modulars.
The creator of Akoustik Timbre Frekuency calls himself Priapus 23, you can find more about him by reading a very detailed interview on the site of sombresoniks. “Banishing Thee Dark Night Of Thee Soul” is not really an introduction into his work, but rather a corollary, an addendum related to a specific happening which he decided worthy to transform into a musical piece. It is nonetheless a rewarding experience in listening, a captivating ritual ambient record that should motivate you to search for his other albums if you haven’t done it yet.
As 'Dreamtime' demonstrates, the results from composing in the early (or late) hours of day can produce some varied results. While opener 'Eskatologikal Edukation' is a noisy soundscape with processed vocals, glitchy electronics and machine-like scrapings and rattles, the next track 'HypGnosis' is a completely different affair. A much dreamier and prettier synth-based drone/ambient track. Dare I say it almost borders on the new age side of ambient? 'Interwoven Signals' and 'Neural.Networking pt2' are more in the same vein as the opening track, although the latter is much more light and airy, while the others are much darker and broodier. Still very glitchy and noisy though. 'A Soundtrak For Dream States', finally, is much more minimal. Which is probably best since it is designed not to interfere with the sleep itself. In a way, it is very much like the Henrik 'Nordvargr' Björkk project 'Sleep Therapy'. If it actually works I don't know because I haven't tried it yet. I did try the Henrik Björkk project for a week though and I didn't really notice anything. Not sure if Akoustik Timbre Frekuency manages to create results but it remains a nice concept nonetheless. I'll give it a go some time.
Which leaves us with the 'Woodland Retreat' track. As I said above, it feels very much out of place conceptually. What it is, is an interesting piece of field recording. Very ritualistic and rhythmic. Certainly not hard to imagine a couple of folks using their various acoustic instruments in a forest. How much of it is processed afterwards I don't know but it feels organic and acoustic. It ends a bit too abruptly for my liking and ideally I would've like to see this detached from the 'Dreamtime' album and further developed into a similar concept album. As it is now it detracts from the rest of the tracks.
As a whole 'Dreamtime' is a nice album which should appeal to a lot of fans of ritualistic dark ambient. Shame about the conceptual mismatch of one track but all in all a very solid release.
Harmonik Radiance (Merchants Of Air)
I meant to write and publish this review yesterday but since it was quite a weird day I postponed it a little. Some days you just want to let it all out and if that happens to me, I usually play some brutal metal and break stuff. Sitting down quietly and writing a nice review is not really an option on such days. Today too is a weird day, perhaps the Christmas spirit gets me down, I don't know. However, since I have close to zero energy left after an exhausting bike-ride, I'll delve into the soothing sounds of Akoustik Timbre Frekuency.
Because that's exactly what you get from the English one-man project: soothing soundscapes, seemingly driving on Tibetan singing bowls. Those usually remind me of another project: Svaixt. If you don't know Svaixt, don't worry. I don't think it is (or was) a massively popular act. Yet, in this household, it's a very common name and certainly a compliment towards Akoustik Timbre Frekuency. We love this kind of free floating music, filling the air with relaxing sounds.
That being said, I think this project is slowly drifting away from the dark ambient world and coming close to regular, be it experimental, ambient. That shouldn't be a bad thing by the way, on the contrary. It makes references towards acts like Laraaji possible and credible. So yes, this album comes highly recommended to any fan of ambient music, dark or bright. Check it out, it just might be your guiding light through the dark days at the end of the year.
ATF is a ritual music one-man group with nine years of history. When I reviewed the band's previous album I mentioned that the album's theme might've been too personal for the artist, thus making the album a bit difficult for the listener to grasp. This album is themed around one of the artist's great influences H. P. Lovecraft, so even if the theme is very personal again, this time the listener can more precisely know what the artist is trying to create and express.
Surprising to me, this album relies a lot more on individual sounds than on some more general and wider ambience, and it has a greatly organic soundscape for the most part. The songs vary from some sparse ritualistic chimes and especially their echoing used as the main element, to some parts backed with simple synth-like but harsher, even slightly noisy ambience and thin droning, to even more intriquing parts such as even drone-like sounds from cutting and otherwise operating on a piece of raw flesh. There's even some oriental flute creating a really deep atmosphere in the third track, which really surprised me. The more usual elements, such as the wide and ritualistic percussion-section, are also present. The album doesn't really get "music-like" at any point: it's an occult ritual soundscape built from sparsely used and small elements, that together turn into something unique and overwhelming. This album really shows the artist's skill in his craft; he isn't afraid of silence and even really slow progression, he moreso uses it for his advantage.
The album plays a lot on dynamics. It has to be played very loud on definition, as some parts (such as a single crude chime hit and it's echo) can be very highlighted whereas there are two whole tracks with a very low volume level when compared to the others - for example, the second track sounds really minimal and distant after the very loud and active ending of it's predecessor. It bothered me at first, but when I got to know the album better I noticed that it's all for the album's own good; it keeps the listener at full attention at all times, and it quides the listener's focus to either a whole soundscape or just some smaller, shorter and/or more fragile sounds that are not so easy to spot. It gives the album a really powerful and primitive pulse that pushes the whole forward throughout it's lenght.
The album has quite interesting cover arts. It looks just like a green and dull mush at first, but on further examination it seems to work a bit like a primitive hologram. It's surprisingly hypnotic to look at, and a rather original choice. The inner covers are dark (blood) red and not nearly as pleasing, but they're more for just containing the info anyway. It could've been done better, less crude and in a more holistic manner, but it's good as-is. A wider visual side would've been nice though, so that there would've been something to really look at while listening the album to deepen the experience.
On the first listen, I thought that the album didn't do justice to it's theme. Later on I noticed that I had been very wrong, as the soundscape isn't as minimal as it is greatly organic, well built and put together, mystical, hypnotic, and even occult - and the playing on dynamics and variation between colder and warmer sounds makes it even more fascinating. It's a really deep listening experience, and one that really makes the listener aware to hear all that's going on. The album isn't afraid to challenge it's listener either.
Aside of the third track's oriental flute-based approach letting the listener explore it just a bit too easily, there aren't too many flaws on the album - and the aforementioned track has very interesting percussions that borderline between calmness and chaos, which make the track more than worthwile. The album really does compliment it's theme.
Kthonik Korridors (Cyclic Defrost)
Akoustik Timbre Frekuency is a British dark ambient project instigated by Priapus 23. ATF have been active for a decade now, and have released over a dozen previous albums on various labels. Kthonic Korridors is a tribute of sorts to H P Lovecraft, the great American writer of weird and occult fiction. Musically, we’re visiting that dark hinterland bordered by the Tangerine Dream of Zeit, the Cluster of Cluster’71, and the Nurse With Wound of Soliloquy for Lilith.
‘Kult Future Repeated’ features high drones, cavernous rumbles, and what sounds like maggots feasting on dead flesh. ‘Date Arkitekt Responses’ chills the blood with the moaning of singing bowls, eerie bell-like percussion, and free-form flute floating in and out of the mix. ‘To Name His Kaptured Fetish’ features more low drones and weird, thick clunks and clanks – evocative of the nameless horrors and dark, eldritch creatures of Lovecraftian lore.
Priapus 23 suggests that this album be used “as bakground atmospheriks for Rites dedikated to thee Kthulhu Mythos.” I have no doubt it would be perfectly suited for that purpose. It would also make a fine soundtrack for putting your feet up and immersing yourself in that dog-eared paperback with the lurid 1970s horror cover, which you keep towards the back of your bookshelf…
Memetik Etchings (Damned By Light)
ATF is back again, this time with a physical full-lenght album after some EP's and net-releases (having made a total of over 15 releases within 8 years). My expectations for this release were already high due to a couple of EP's I've heard from the band previously (reviewed here and here), but the album's name got me even more interested. The band promises me memetic etchings, and I'm expecting for them to happen. If you don't know the band, know that their music is intented to be used as "general ritual intensifiers", meaning that the music is meant to be a part of -or to even create- a deep and truly personal experience.
The album consists of 7 parts, yes, but they're so tightly knit together that talking about each of them separately would be nonsense. The main elements are as follows. The synth, or at least something that really sounds like one, creates some semi-ethereal sounds that fill most of the soundscape and are audible at almost all times. They don't usually have a pattern, although their progress shows traces of repetition at times; they're moreso a "sound mat", put out to serve as the foundations for the other sounds. Their sound is usually a peaceful and soft one with occasionally a harsher touch, but it's only to make them more appealing and less usual. They still have variation, naturally; the two-minute part five has an even (in comparison) noisy, albeit softly humming sound, and occasionally they're in the background as a really thin signal just to give the soundscape a little depth and the ethereal and peaceful touch. This sound is often backed up by another synth-layer with a slightly more sharp and a bit eerie sound, giving the synths the variation they need. The other sound also moves more freely in both patterns and volume levels, thus bringing some surprises to the composition.
The album's backgrounds were recorded in an out-of-use sewer, and they consist of for example scratching something against the tiles, croaking frogs, some tile-, wood- and stone-hits, rattles, and various other beats in the distance. They all sound pleasantly organic and their softness due to the echoing makes them fit perfectly to the atmosphere, and gives the album a big part of it's character and personal sound. Their variation and unpredictable nature give the album a good dose of variation and thus more appeal, too. An occasional sound panning from one speaker (or earphone) to another is also a nice add in all it's simplisticity, making the music more vivid and actual: many times both of the speakers have their own backgrounds, too, so there's a lot to discover within the music.
So, what does the big picture sound like? It sounds uneven. For example the watery drones backed with ethereal hums in part three are a true pleasure to the ears, and there are many such moments that really grab your attention to the soundscape and the otherworldly emotions it breathes out. Sadly there are weaker parts, such as the part four in it's ten minutes long entirety. It's really peaceful, and even though it's background croaks and hisses bring variation to it, it's whole remains flat and uninspiring, even thin sound-wise - especially after part three. The fourth part has many good elements, but they're mixed so that the whole is uninteresting and way too safe. Part six and it's signal-drones make this kind of expression work a lot better.
Overall it seems that the record doesn't know it's nature. It partly relies a lot on the repetition and minimalism, whereas partly it relies on a few interesting droning sounds panning from earpiece to another with some beats and synths backing the varying whole up. It's really hard to focus on the record as you don't really know how to look at it; should it be a calming and hypnotic one, or an interesting and highly appealing one? The truth is that by going to both directions the record falls short from it's capabilities, as the tracks and their very varying aims (be it the even very different natures of the tracks caused by the mixing, or the tracks' wholes created by the sounds alone) don't grab the listener's attention the way they should. I was bummed when I realized that the record totally lets go of the listener from time to time.
The artist behind the project said that "M.E." was composed to serve as a part in his rite of recharging his entity, which might also explain the nature of the record; it might've been carved to suit a certain ritual that one must be familiar with to fully understand the record's and it's different parts' purposes. As of now, I can only say that I was let-down, but the album still channels forth sounds, emotions and feeling in a way that many "ritual musicians" can only dream of, and does it in a personal way and sound too; it's just the whole and it's flow from one part to another that doesn't fully work.
Ritualistik Kuttings (Damned By Light)
ATF (previously reviewed here) has reached eleven years of age. To celebrate the occasion, this double-album was released on the Walpurgisnacht of 2012.
What the thematic main CD presents is a holistic five-track ritual of flesh, blood and growth. The songs are based on splendid and skilledly crafted echoing ambience with a slightly eerie but non-hostile feel. This both metallic and wooden ambience is layered and detailed, and varies pleasingly in pitch and structure-wise from soft background sounds to stronger toilings and wailings that slowly get a tight grip around the listener. You're now surrounded with an aura of mystery, a feel of unknown with a welcoming feel.
The ambience has a lot of character on its own, but its the percussions and other ritual instruments that give it its true power. From gongs and various chimes, singing bowls, rattles, wooden echoes and the opening song's sounds that sound like cutting a piece of meat, the songs offer you something fresh, thought-out and highly affecting.
The songs are not only potent ambient, but certainly suitable for solitary rituals you might practice. The source sounds and mixing are in perfect check, and the atmospheres progress slowly and with all the self-certainty they need. Despite the slow paces, boredom won't be in sight.
As if the actual album wasn't enough, the bonus CD consists of over an hour's length of compositions and experimentations with acoustic instruments. I won't get into detail with this one, but in case you're wondering what the acoustic and ritualistic instruments used by ATF sound without any posti-editing nor manipulation, this one will definitely interest you. It's more experimental and happily energetic, less of a holistic experience, which makes it very different from the actual main disc. Still, it's more than just a very valid bonus. If the disc one is a growing experience for the spirit, the bonus disc is a relaxing one.
If you enjoy dark ambient, ritual music or just acoustic ethnic instrumentation, there's no reason you shouldn't buy this album.
Shamanik Sessions Vol. 01 (Merchants Of Air)
No other genre is so in touch with its spiritual side as ritual ambient. With roots in ambient, dark ambient and pagan beliefs and rituals, this genre has been a gateway to altered states of consciousness, mainly for the artist but very much also for the listener. Around the world, many sound artists have been experimenting with ancient instruments and ancients ways of making music in order to reach this magical atmosphere, somewhere between wake and dream.
Akoustik Timbre Frekuency is such a project, and also the brain behind the Sombre Soniks label. With this release he takes a step back from the darkest regions of the ambient genre and into a lesser known world. With percussion, flutes and an array of mysterious voices, he has surely created something mystical and enchanting. Shamanik Sessions Vol. I is a long ritual, divided into five elaborate parts. Listening to this will indeed take your mind to regions it has never been to, even if it's only in your thoughts.
'Uniting Thee Earth Mother And Thee Sky Father' drives on these minimal but energetic tribal drums and voices. Although there's little variation in this track, the whole is quite immersive and probably dream-evoking. I will try that tonight when I'm trying to get some sleep. 'Greeting To Thee Night Spirits' is exactly what the title predicts. Sounds of strange, mysterious creatures, luring in the darkness of night. You can somehow compare it to the noctuary at a zoo or, better yet, a nightly ritual somewhere in the desert of ancient America.
Close your eyes, and allow your mind to wander freely with these sounds. This music is perfectly suited to do that and if you have a little bit of imagination, beautiful landscapes will appear in your mind's eye. I know it worked for me. 'Healing Ritual' is probably the best track for this activity, slightly returning the ambient approach and quite similar to what Svaixt did. Here the sound seems to come from singing bowls and create a dreamy, floating atmosphere that gently fills the room. It clearly doesn't sounds as if it comes from this world, or this time.
'Chant To Thee Spirit World' continues with the more traditional ambient style, be it still in a highly intimate and alienating fashion. This piece excels in minimalism and creates a gloomy, eerie atmosphere, somewhat colder than the previous songs on this album do but still very immersive. It's also the darkest and most fearful track on the album, especially with that spooky voice floating in and out of the already bizarre sound.
'Ceremony Of Thee Moon Goddess' ends the ritual by combining all the elements from the previous songs. This immense, 33 minutes lasting, piece is the pinnacle of the album, the 'grand finale' so to speak and in that case obviously my favorite track. Slowly it build-up. More sounds float in regularly and by the end we're trapped in a blissful whirlpool of gloomy but beautiful emotions.
So in all, 'Shamanik Sessions Vol. I' is a highly recommended album if you're into minimalistic, ritual ambient and strange, otherworldly sounds. What it lacks in variation, it makes up with atmosphere and instrumental storytelling. These aspects make the album very enjoyable for the entire duration and that's quite an accomplishment in a 1.40 hours timespan. Yes, this is another great release from Sombre Soniks and definitely one that will find the way to my media playing a lot in the nights to come...
Ritual has always been around but, rather than being static, it’s an ever-evolving practise, even if its basis remains firmly embedded in the past. Brion Gysin added to the paraphernalia of ritual by creating the Dreamachine in the heady days of psychic and hallucinogenic experimentation way back in the optimistic (and mystic) sixties. Roundabout 1961 Gysin collaborated with Ian Somerville, a mathematician and computer scientist at Oxford University, and together they created the device. A description of the ‘machine’ and it effects are outside the scope of the present review, but information is plentiful on the web for the intrepid and curious.
The six tracks elucidated on here accompany a series of six short films on the device itself and Brion Gysin, its progenitor, plus an hour long mix which is to be used in conjunction with the Dreamachine. Akoustik Timbre Frekuency here rely on very traditional ritualistic sounds – bells, cymbals, singing bowls, flutes, harking back to the very roots of ritualistic practise. In addition field recordings have been thrown into the mix, creating a sensory dissonance as it enable us to see the world in a different light. Without the context of the films however it is difficult place the pieces into some kind of framework that makes sense. But, taking it purely as an academic exercise, and taking the hour-long mix as a reviewing cue, I will be concentrating my focus on that track so I can present some kind of an overview.
The aim of ritual, of course, is to release us from the physical and mental constraints of our mundane reality and call forth atavistic entities and manifest spiritual archetypes into being. It’s no exaggeration to say that what we’re presented with here not only achieves that, but practically throws us out of the normal and into the supernormal. And that’s just the music – if we wish to use the Dreamachine alongside it undoubtedly its effects will be more completely felt. Clearly, the limbic system, responsible in part for emotion, learning, and memory, is meant to be aroused and activated together with the excitation of our visual faculties, without or without the visual cues afforded by Gysin and Somerville’s device.
It’s actually quite remarkable the effect such stripped-back and ‘primitive’ music can have on the mind, its otherworldliness a passport to entry into a realm normally off-limits and hidden away from our senses. Also its ringing clarity clears the mind of all humdrum thoughts and images, propelling us into a dimension where everyday preoccupations play no part. Knowing this, and performed whilst meditating on the steadily flickering rhythms of the Dreamachine’s light pulses, access to the visual part of our brains (to say nothing of the deeply buried ancestral memories each of us carries within us) the efficacy of the machine can only be multiplied in manifold directions.
Saying that, having a Dreamachine isn’t compulsory – this is music to help us reconnect with ourselves, or at least those parts of ourselves that have been inhumed by the detritus of the world we live in. Listening to this, the psychic traveller can leave this dimension behind, bending time, place, and being at will. Sit back, turn the lights off, and simply let the sounds of time immemorial seep into every nook and cranny of your body. Your mind, once attuned, will do the rest. More than that, it will refresh one’s soul.
Thee Essence Of Existence (Merchants Of Air)
For his seventeenth (!) release, dark ambient ritualist Akoustik Timbre Frekuency delivered one massive drone piece, created with singing bowls, gongs, bells and synthesised sounds. I could say that this is a great album, and I wouldn't even be lying about it, but it's more than that. This release invites you to calm down, to step away from the hectic and performance-oriented society for a while. Sit down, comfortably. Close your eyes and just listen. Ignore all other stimuli. Meditate.
Focus on your breathing. This is one of those albums that can help you relax and set your mind at ease. Believe me, it works.
Thee Essence Of Existence (The Noise Beneath The Snow)
We go now to the UK under the ambient drone arena but with a slightly different path. We present now The Essence of Existence, a new digital-only release from UK artist, Akoustik Timbre Frekuency.
Whereas some ambient releases take you on lateral planes, Akoustik Timbre Frekuency presents a journey that sounds predominantly centrifugal or spiral-like. Aside from the unorthodox use of tones, layering and pace, this is one of the many factors that make this release fairly unique.
The Essence of Existence is like a 360 degree feeling similar to descending and ascending within the depths of a Buddhist meditation bell or a wineglass. Indeed the album is very hypnotic and suitable for meditation and even possibly self-hypnosis. Akoustik Tembre Frekuency tends to focus more upon the mid-upper keys though the deep, low tones appear, just not as predominantly.
The listener is taken closer and further away from the center of the middle of the object. It’s a slow, spiral descent with rising and receding layers throughout the path. So, if you are looking for a different trip with your ambient journey and would prefer to just stay in the moment and contemplate existentialism, this might be up your alley.