Alchemist

Fire ep (pan.o.ra.ma journal)
The enigmatic shape of ALCHEMIST emerge from a dismal paradise to mutate into a sole form,and this alchemic process was veiled under "Fire" the first release of this project which offer us 5 pieces of pure spectral ambient soundscapes moving into surreal scenarios and entering you to vast regions of darkness in which resides the inner fire,ready to be trasmuted. "Loka Vuotaa Verta" is the first experience hee,full of repetitive drone elements dressed with sutile spaces complementing perfectly each other to handle a perfect balance from start to finish. "Tumma Alkemisti" is the second spectrum,this time more dense and vaporous than the first one,and keeping its strong presence and mutational nature within the pass of minutes. Next comes a version of Loka Vuotaa Verta" in two versions the first one is a remix,in which the music sounds more in deep than first one,but still keeping its own characteristic structure.The other one a demo verion.The album close with "Tumma Alkemist" a demo track too,with lower sound but with such enigmatic passages which surrounds the whole picture of the track. While ALCHEMIST sails into a sea of mysterious enigmatic shape,we must let you know that this solo project endeavors to search the dark side of thought and sound.

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Fire & Water ep's (Blood1000)

Alchemist has released two EPs via Sombre Soniks, a label which promotes ritual dark ambient music and ‘Muziks for thee darker side of life’. The EP’s each comprise just a couple of tracks with alternate mixes/demos. But, these tracks are amazing. The EPs released so far, named Fire and Water, are part of four from this artist whose home is in Helsinki, Finland.

Joka Vuotaa Verta introduces Fire. It also appeared on Explorers Of The Darkest Depths Vol. 1 http://eotdd.blogspot.com/2011/06/blog-post.html and is a great composition that merges a classic dark ambient rumbling background with a light but edgy repeating synth with a distinctly ominous air. Translated as ‘that which is leaking blood’ you can imagine the life-force of some esoteric creature slowly ebbing away. Tumma Alkemisti, or ‘dark alchemist’ is more ‘organic’, and very atmospheric. The imagination conjours a subterranean environment housing the work place of this mysterious entity, whose experiments are scattered around, created, alive and unable to escape from this forbidding place.

Two other versions of Joka Vuotaa Verta are included – a demo and a remix by P23, and a demo version of Tumma Alkemisti closes Fire.
My favourite of the two EP’s is Water. Essence kaiken elämän (Essence of All Life) is an 8 minute piece that is much lighter than the two tracks found on Fire, but which still retains an element of mystery. The track is more of a journey as opposed to the feeling of a single environment that I got with Fire. My favourite of all the tracks, though, is Kallioilta merinäköala (From the Cliffs Overlooking the Sea). This is more of a classic dark ambient composition, but what really stands out is that is has a retro sound that would not be amiss in a 70′s horror flick. The difference, though, is that this is a very professional track. It has an amazing cinematic feeling. The retro organ sound really gets the imagination going. I can’t really describe it adequately. It is dramatic without being loud or in your face. As with Fire, Water includes a P23 remix and a demo of the introductory track and a demo of Kallioilta merinäköala.

Overall, the EP’s certainly compliment each other. Fire is 23 minutes and Water is 43 giving an hour of dark ambient sounds which are guaranteed to stimulate the senses. Cinematic, dramatic and evocative, the listener is taken on a journey through aspects of both elements. I’m definitely looking forward to the rest of the series.

Webpage for Blood1000

Air ep (Damned by Light)
Air is this one man act's third release from the set of four EPs, each dedicated to one of the four elements of nature. As Fire- and Water-EPs have already been released and Earth is soon to follow, I can only guess what the project will explore in the future. The EPs are currently available only as downloads for the price of £2,50.
Same as the two previous EPs, "Air" is composed of two song mixed and mastered by Sombre Soniks Studios, one track remixed by the label-head, and the two main tunes' early and unprocessed versions. The track titles are in faulty Finnish with proper English translations accompanying them, which, again, applies to Alchemist's earlier releases as well.

The opening six-minuter "Pillars of Sky" delivers calm and soothing ambient. The minimalistic scene is built from higher digital synth-notes creating an airy serenity, whereas some deep and vast low frequencies create the calm and neutral movement that simulate a feeling of vastness. All the fluctuation and movement during the song is subtle and hard to grasp, and I mean this in a good way; this is the way to portray air in an aural form. The following seven-minute piece "Child of Ruin and the Ageless King" brings on a stronger soundscape with more of a structure; the basses fluctuate with more power, and the higher notes are presented as a calm and slowly evolving rhythm. Everything is still, and if the soundscape wouldn't be so minimalistic, light and airy, one could definitely throw the word "epic" in there.
After the neat and theme-strict main songs, it's time for the remix by P23. His version of the song is foggier and all the sounds carry more rugged edges. To get all poetic, it's more like a blurry and dreamy vision of the opening track, with everything resonating on a faster rate. It's a hint gloomier as well, but still suits the theme. It's just a different aspect on Alchemist's vision on air. As for the demo-versions of the songs, they present the tracks' structures and components in a clearer, sturdier and slightly harsher form, but don't carry the same amount of calm, serene and airy atmosphere. If you prefer to hear the instrumentation or are just curious what lies behind the songs' surface, you're glad these are included.

The cover image and the colourscape pleases my eye and suits the EP's theme and sound perfectly - and even manage to do so without giving the listener too concrete or dominating visions of what they're meant to be hearing. The Ouroboros-drawing seems oddly rugged, though. It's nice to see that even though this is a download-release, "Air" comes accompanied with the basic infos and both the back- and front covers.
I was going to complain about the EP's length, which indeed is an issue since the two main tracks don't last for longer than a bit over 13 minutes, but the record needs to be put to context to see the whole image. "Air" is one piece in a set of four, and if it were longer, it would become too dominant and the quartet would be too massive. That being said, I still would've gladly enjoyed a longer piece of sky-view serenity. "Air" does justice to its theme and left me hungry for more, but, perhaps because of the strict theme and its minimalistic approach, it didn't deliver the final wow-factor that would've enslaved me. Maybe I should return to this EP after I've gotten acquainted with the remaining three pieces of the set. I'll be waiting to hear "Earth" in the near future.
7.5/10

Webpage for Damned By Light
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Air ep (pan.o.ra.ma journal)

With this new Ep,ALCHEMIST give birth to his most hidden mysteries and desolated visions ,reflected in each one of the 5 compositions released here. "Pilarit Taivas (pillar Of Sky)" offer us an exquisite cosmic voyage,so calm...so dark...so meditative...A piece with interesting moments due sensations you got when hearing carefully. "Lapsi Tuhon La Ikuinen Kuningas(Child Of Ruin And The Ageless King)",is a self proceative transformation based of meditative tunes,and in deep atmospheres ofering you interesting elments from start to finish. next comes "Pilarit Taivas" a impresive mix by Priapus 23,still with such dense calm atmospheres but with the magickal touch Priapus 23 gives to its own music! next comes "Pilarit Taivas" Demo version and "Lapsi Tuhon La Ikuinen Kuningas(Child Of Ruin And The Ageless King)"demo version. some tracks were remixed and reamstered at Sombre Soniks Studios. and art visuals by Marc Azrael
Hoyland! Again the mysterious shape of Alchemist offer us an interesting release.So we must wait the 4th final part of this series of releases.

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Colossloth


Butterflies Are Witches (Radio Black Forest)
Leicester’s Colossloth makes a return with his follow up to 2010's 'Antipathy in nature’ LP which was released on cult label Doom Mantra .Known for his dense excursions into the fringes of consciousness with his brand of twisted dark pagan electroacoustics, this time sees him release on esoteric based web label sombre soniks. Filled with Cryptic allusions to wicca and arcane gnosis, the 5 tracks here would suggest they had been culled from personal experience of such things rather than a keen interest. Here we are thrown into forays into the magickal unconscious via sublime robotic voices and strings, conjuring up an image very much like a junkyard strewn with possessed animated matter trying to make sense of itself and order itself into some semblance of form. Indeed the ghostly textures would not be out of place in some warped kids TV programme or the baroque world of Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer. Drones and the kind of sonic maladies we know him for are present, but more restrained and at times, and dare I say, melodic, albeit still full of unease. Indeed, you could say all the tracks here seem bathed in some kind of preternatural anticipation and uncertainty.

Whilst wicca’s musical companion to some degree for some of us might makes us think of folk (the most significant and celebrated release in that genre perhaps being Seldiy barns and Nigel Bourne’s Pagan Easter: Ritual Music For The Spring Equinox on Psychic TV’s Temple Records imprint back in 1988), the emergent UK drone/dark ambient scene of recent years though is perhaps becoming the new folk soundtrack to Albion. If this is so, then it makes this release definitely the perfect thing to draw down the burgeoning post-modern moon with.

Ending with the tempestuous disquiet of ‘Bones Beneath the Balefire’, (for me the EP’s standout track) All Butterflies are Witches ends in a crescendo leaving us enthralled and anxious to hear the next release by Colossloth. 

All in all it’s more of a ritual soundtrack and less visceral than the previous Colossloth releases, making it perfect for a quiet nights eerie contemplation.

Webpage for Radio Black Forest

Druhá Smrt

Recurrence ep (pan.o.ra.ma journal)
The Debut Release of this amazing Project from Jindrich Spilka,and "Recurrence" fill my expectatives. I have been waiting the release,and let me tell you ,the ambum is great. This one include 4 compositions floating into obscure and cryptic ritual ambient. With intense moments due eerie atmospheres and convergences created here. "Becoming" opens the release,with such dense soundscapes filled with sinister elements and subliminal voices which enrich so much the whole composition. "Something Strange" is the second one,and the endless suggestive voyage,continues...This time DRUHA SMRT,submerged you in dismal atmospheres,with amazing synth passages and strong wishpering voices. sudenly the percussive sounds entering like a vast march to chthonic realms. The thir one is "Via Eschaton",so intense, obscure and strong in its own nature. It looks like a shamanic trip,due how each minute the music transform itself,layer to layer creating a paralell universe,into such mysterious ritualistic sounds.The release ends with "Recurrence",complementing perfectly,in a neverending cycle,a magickal vision where recurrence is the point of equlibrion and self evolutive process. The voices of Lucie Spilková,gives an interesting touch to the whole track too. Without a doubt "Recurrence" is one of such releases worth to explore due the dynamism and ritualistic patterns developed here.

Plaguewielder

World Funeral Requiem (Damned By Light)
This download-EP is the debut of Plaguewielder, a project from the same artist whose work I've previously heard through the album "Dance of the Twilight Stars," released under the name Hoyland.

Ambient is still the name of the game, but the emphases and atmospheres are very different from the artist's works as Hoyland. The music of Plaguewielder is strongly dark and gloomy ambient with something I perceive to be a medieval undertone - a constant presence of rotting death.

The songs are built in a slow-paced and minimalistic fashion where each note counts. Luckily the artist handles his craft and, despite the minimalism occasionally ranging to almost silent moments, the atmospheres don't start to sound dull, too thin or repetitive at any point. The synths are employed as a versatile mixture of different kinds of ominous tones; from harsh low-pitches to darkly ethereal and gloomy higher notes playing in the distance, the soundscape is versatile but still unified. The strong drum-sounds serve as a great dramatic add with their powerful rhythms, and at times they deliver an "explosion" to shake up the soundscape and make sure the listener stays awake, so to say.

The vocals are one of the key things that bring this EP a lot of personality and depth. Amidst the layers of nicely vast and pleasingly professional-sounding (but certainly not too polished! the layers are vivid, but carry the smell of rotting human flesh) ambient-keys there lies gurgles, snarls and other effect-like vocal sounds. They are heavily processed and fittingly inhumane to suit the EP's theme, and their distorted sound also helps them to better fit amidst the synth-notes. I think that the EP would sound way less effective and appealing without them, as in a way, they summarize the thematic points of death into an undead and inhuman sound travelling among the atmospheric synth-sounds.

As far as ambient-EPs go, this one's a really strong one - and especially so for a debut release. Now that Plaguewielder have built a strong musical and thematical foundation for their works, it's time to take things further; to search for more original and affective synth-sounds, maybe even samples, and to generally bring something bolder and more listener-intrusive to the setting. There are a multitude of ways to enhance the grim and death-smelling moods and atmospheres; now Plaguewielder needs to find the ones that are the most suitable, fresh and powerful to further develop their expression. I'm already curious for the project's future output.
8-/10

The Grave Dominion

Winter Dead World (Dominion Magazine)
The Grave Dominion is a transatlantic collaboration between musicians Joseph Edward Karstens (Backyard Ghost) in America & Ninah Drone Queen (The Spirit Dies) in Ireland. Four years and three albums into their collaboration the duo have finely honed an enviable cinematic sound.
Where a lot experimental, dark ambient and classical orientated bands tend to suffer musically from technological and or budgetary limits that hamper their ambitions. Instead The Grave Dominion work in harmony with their independent status and geographical positioning taking time and care to create, which is immediately evident upon listening.
Building around cores of swirling drones, each song effortlessly weaves an independent, evocative atmosphere; whether it is the isolation of 'Pariah', the contentment of 'Like Rain' or the Serenity of 'Skyfall'.
The emphasis on hanging chords, drones and simple melody creates a seamless movement between each piece that, as a result, gives the sense of an implied narrative. And it is this sense of narrative that is central to that truly cinematic feel that bands such as this all aim to achieve.
There are some wonderfully experimental moments on this album that could have just been played out and built upon more to really push at the boundaries of the bands sound. But for fans of ambient and cinematic music this is still a very rewarding listen.
4/5

Ulug-Khem