- Altarmang – ‘Saiph’
Altarmang is a criminally underrated/unrecognized project by Pär Boström of Kammarheit, Cities Last Broadcast and Hymnambulae. As Altarmang, Boström teams up with Kenneth Hansson a fellow Swede that also resides in Umea. Boström brings his unconventional skills as a dark ambient/experimental musician to the table, while Hansson focuses on setting the atmosphere and spiritual tone through herbal alchemy and ceremonial surrendering. Hansson also adds more directly to the sounds with his specialization in reel to reel tape players/recorders. Though, these individual roles are never exclusive to one artist or the other, Altarmang is a fluid musical project, tapping into many of the multiple talents of each artist.
Their debut release ‘Void‘ had an extremely meditative focus, drawing comparisons to some artists from the Aural Hypnox label. ‘Void‘, which is now being released on Cyclic Law in a CD format with two exclusive extra tracks, was also the first full length project of Boström’s to be released on vinyl (through Autarkeia).
Their latest track, ‘Saiph‘ from the dark ambient compilation ‘Vol.1 Dark Ambient‘ on This Is Darkness, has a bit of a different feel to it than their previous works. While the sounds are still decidedly meditative, ‘Saiph‘ has more of an musical element to it. The way ‘Saiph‘ incorporates the repetitive synth lead could easily draw comparisons to music from the micro-genre of winter-synth. Yet, this track will immediately stand out from others of that aforementioned genre for its textural depth. Through field recordings and Hansson’s reel to reel tape sorcery ‘Saiph‘ takes on an almost supernatural otherworldly vibe, which can be at once as warm as a winter fire, and as cold as the dark expanses of night, just outside that fire’s glow.
- Mastodon – ‘Blue Walsh‘
Mastodon have recently released a new EP called ‘Cold Dark Place‘ via Reprise. The band uploaded the four-track album on YouTube and Spotify and is also available for download on iTunes and Google Play. The tracks ‘North Side Star‘, ‘Blue Walsh‘ and ‘Cold Dark Place‘ were recorded during the sessions of ‘Once More Round The Sun‘ (2014, Reprise, Nick Raskulinecz as the producer). ‘Toe To Toes‘ comes from the sessions of ‘Emperor Of Sand‘ (2017, Reprise) produced by Brendan O’Brien. The artwork was made by Richey Beckett.
- Seamus Fogarty – ‘Heels Over Head’
A choice from Ireland for this week’s mixtape ‘Heels Over Head’ from alt-folk and electronica genius singer- songwriter Seamus Fogarty. The song is taken from the upcoming new album ‘The Curious Hand‘ via Domino, which is expected to be officially out on October 6th.
- Grave Pleasures – ‘Joy Through Death‘
Finnish post-punk band Grave Pleasures, or the “post-punk wet dream” as they describe themselves, are releasing their third album ‘Motherblood‘ on September 29th via Century Media. Through human’s darkest fears Grave Pleasures create a dancey punky goth-rock sound which will satisfy the old-time dreamers.
- Metatron Omega – ‘Ecclesia Universalis’
Since the late ’90s – mid ’00s fans of Raison d’être dream of a day when he will re-visit his trademark sounds of hauntingly manipulated choirs. Don’t get me wrong, his newer material is still top-notch, but we all just loved those choirs and Gregorian chants so much. There may well come a day when Raison d’être reverts back to that style, at least for one album. But in the meantime, we must look abroad for new material to scratch that itch.
Metatron Omega, from their first release ‘Gnosis Dei‘, has been the foremost dark ambient musician in these Gregorian chant and choral realms. The music focuses on the esoteric in a way that is unrivaled by the many. With each of their three releases, Metatron Omega has gotten closer to their goal. The latest album, ‘Illuminatio‘, is once more proof that Metatron Omega never stops learning new methods for applying their trade.
The opening track from ‘Illuminatio‘, ‘Ecclesia Universalis‘, delivers all we could hope and more in terms of its choral and cathedralic atmospherics. The track is thick with a fog that seems to enshroud the whole experience in a mysticism that is incredibly dark and brooding. This universal congregation alluded to by the title seems to be the overarching theme of the entire album. They are a religious group, which may well have already achieved ascendency. As listeners we are left feeling small and insignificant in the presence of such great power. Being given a dose of such humility could be a welcome development in our modern hubris-laden times.
Compiled by Michael Barnett, Mary Kalaitzidou & Elli Mavrou