Author Topic: Darkest Ambient  (Read 51470 times)

mgriffin

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Re: Darkest Ambient
« Reply #20 on: July 24, 2008, 02:53:54 PM »
What most people call "dark ambient" now, didn't really exist when I got into ambient music.  When people talked about "dark ambient" 10 years ago or so, they meant ambient music that was darker, deeper, and slower... stuff like Lustmord, Thomas Koner, or Trances/Drones.  More like what I'd now refer to as "night ambient," not meant to be spooky, just sedate and subdued.  By this definition, stuff like Oophoi or Vidna Obmana or even my own work might be considered "dark ambient."

Then a bunch of black metal crossover artists sort of took the words "dark ambient" and it became sort of industrial-ish, abrasive ambient with overtly "spooky" or aggro elements.
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Re: Darkest Ambient
« Reply #21 on: July 24, 2008, 08:09:52 PM »
What most people call "dark ambient" now, didn't really exist when I got into ambient music.  When people talked about "dark ambient" 10 years ago or so, they meant ambient music that was darker, deeper, and slower... stuff like Lustmord, Thomas Koner, or Trances/Drones.  More like what I'd now refer to as "night ambient," not meant to be spooky, just sedate and subdued.  By this definition, stuff like Oophoi or Vidna Obmana or even my own work might be considered "dark ambient."

Then a bunch of black metal crossover artists sort of took the words "dark ambient" and it became sort of industrial-ish, abrasive ambient with overtly "spooky" or aggro elements.


This is interesting. I never really thought about the dichotomy between these two styles or camps of dark ambient. But I find that what I've heard of the doomy dudes doens't usually compare to something like Vidna's "Dante" trilogy in terms of sheer depth and intesnity, and yes, beauty. I was getting into the doom metal ambient for a while, stuff like Nordvargr, but there came a certain point where it just seemed completely shallow and more halloweeny than actually dark. But that doom sense, the way you describe it, could just as well describe Lustmord's first album, so it could be said that this crossover has been in process for a while. But also, bands like Sunn O))) have made it way more common. Sunn O))) are -  if you'll pardon the expression - pussies compared to masters like Oophoi though, when you get down to what is really deep and dark. The term Dark Ambient to me involves deepness, mystery, and a heavy sense of soul; the industrial side is there in Rapoon and Troum, but what I have always loved about it is that in all that bleak expanse of sound, it still manages to be infused with animistic tendencies. I compare it to music like old school blues. One feels (at least I feel) that some of those old Robert Johnson songs, or early Duke Ellington, is so much more "evil" in the sense of ancient and dark, than bands like Slayer or whatever could ever be.

drone on

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Re: Darkest Ambient
« Reply #22 on: July 24, 2008, 11:16:30 PM »
Mike makes a good point here.  Actually the Andrea Marutti stuff is perhaps better classified as "ambient drone that happens to be dark." Same with Oophoi, a lot of his music is dark but in the current definition of "dark ambient" his stuff is quite different.  "Dark Ambient" now seems to imply industrial-instrumental-noisy-scary. My local record store (Amoeba in San Francisco) has a whole section titled "dark ambient" and basically what you find is the Cyclic Law/Cold Meat labels and artists. The store would stock Marutti probably under "experimental" (as well as Oophoi), and they have Lustmord stuff in the "Gothic" section, along with Alio Die! So go figure.  Still haven't figured out why they moved Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze out of "New Age" and into "Psychedelic," yet they left Steve Roach discs under "New Age" alongside Yanni, Harold Budd, and Michael Brook.  I don't get it.

SiF

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Re: Darkest Ambient
« Reply #23 on: July 25, 2008, 12:27:04 AM »
I am not into this whole dark ambient scene. never was and never will be.
But i really like Andrea Marutti's "The Brutality of Misbreathing" because
it avoids those typical dark ambient cliche's. Instead its just incredibly
intense music which really lets you feel why he chooses this Album Title.
Dark and claustrophobic.

Your statement seems a bit contradictory. I can fully understand, and of course agree with, not liking music that is cliche and lame. But if you like the Marutti album, and it is in the genre of Dark Ambient, then perhaps you are getting into this genre. I began this thread by saying there is a lot in Dark Ambient that I dislike. Indeed, it is a very abused genre, with many cheesy hacks trying to be all dark, deep, and evil. But like anything that comes to be defined as a genre, there are a lot of bandwagoners, and then there is the source material.

Joe says it quite well when he mentions Oophoi:
I always considered Nocturnes, by Oophoi/Paradin to be incredibly black, although with sharp bursts of light. Great album no matter how it's described.

I am happy that Oophoi is mentioned in this thread, as I would consider him to be one of the stars of dark ambient music. I feel this, for the very reason that he is not one sided at all, but goes where his imagination and dream takes him. And there is some very dark, remote territory there. But it is offest by underworldly light that he shines. No shadows without light, and the best dark ambient stumbles into passages of aetheric beauty, which become all the more powerful for the darker modes. I guess what I love is the contrast, the depth and the breadth.

So I would have to agree with you that one-sided dark ambient sucks, and I have bought my share of albums that were lame in this genre. But hopefully the whole thing can be defined by what is great about it, instead of the crap. I wonder, though, are there more crappy dark ambient releases these days than good? Personally, I don't think so, but I guess I have learned to avoid the cliche stuff...

I never said that dark ambient sucks. Or that one-sided dark ambient sucks.
It depends on the person who is listening to this stuff. If he likes it. Great.
If he dislikes it. Also great. And if you are into this cliche stuff, then go
ahead and buy millions of albums. If you don't care then i don't care.

What i wanted to say is, that i rather listen to more "positive" ambient
music such as Growing and this stuff. I just don't like this "dark" and
"misanthropic" kind of noodeling. There is a fine line between what i
call "depressive music" and "melancholic music". I really love SoTL
because there music tends to fall into the last category. Its not just
totally black and you imagine an abyss or something, but its still far
away from being "happy everything is fine and we all jump across a
green field of red flowers while birds are singing our names-music".

But in the end, the line between "normal" ambient music and "dark"
ambient music got washed away during the last years and its hard
to categorize something. thats true.

drone on

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Re: Darkest Ambient
« Reply #24 on: July 25, 2008, 08:07:41 AM »
Yeah dark ambient is depressing. I save it for special occasions, otherwise I'd probably walk around in a catatonic state feeling life was one big black abyss of nothingness :-)

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Re: Darkest Ambient
« Reply #25 on: July 25, 2008, 08:11:48 AM »
Yeah dark ambient is depressing. I save it for special occasions, otherwise I'd probably walk around in a catatonic state feeling life was one big black abyss of nothingness :-)

Sounds like a typical day for me! ;D

9dragons

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Re: Darkest Ambient
« Reply #26 on: July 25, 2008, 12:59:30 PM »
I always take a step back and try to evaluate the music when someone else with a completely different musical history (especially my wife) views it in a way that is totally contradictory to how I feel about it. She is blown away by how evil and murky the dark ambient can sound. I remember her funny reaction to Possible Planet by Roach, and how she commented that this music would screw people's minds up. I thought about it, and really considered it, and came to the conclusion that for me, the opposite was true. I find it quite cathartic. If I am in a depressed mood, some good dark ambient, something like Nebula's "Genesis", takes me to deep reaches of the mind, and puts everything into proper perspective. I think it has a mellowing and grounding effect. But then again, I consider "Possible Planet" and "Genesis" as well as Inade or the CMI stuff to be dark ambient, so my definitions of what I'm listening to may be skewed...

But there doesn't seem to be another category name for different ranges of dark ambient. I think it's ok that way, as a genre should have a wide net in which to play. I like the permutations. An album like "Stalker" could be seen a scary in many parts, and could amp up one's paranoia if one were in the wrong mood, but I think it leads to a cathartic space, it lets us out. I think the best stuff does this, creates a balance. After all, in the deepest reaches of the mind, soul, space, the world, whatever, there are no value judgements in terms of what the human mind can grasp. I think "Magnificent Void" tries to strive for that balance. How can man express the furthest reaches, the void, in art?

jkn

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Re: Darkest Ambient
« Reply #27 on: July 25, 2008, 01:22:30 PM »
Maybe I'm really weird... but "Magnificent Void" I've never thought of as 'dark'.    I like it - I find it relaxing.

As mentioned earlier - it's perspective.    Someone who listens to a lot of a type of music - can discern subtle variations between various artists and music that others don't hear (or care to hear). 

I let my co-workers listen to 'sub.terra' which has music from me, vidna obmana, vir unis, saul stokes, and m bentley...  I didn't really think it was a 'dark' album - it hints at it - but the universal reaction from everyone in accounting was that it sounded like  "horror film soundtrack" and they expected for someone with an ax to jump out and hack someone to bits.   Not the reaction I was really intending... but none of those people listen to ambient... or really even instrumental music.   A couple of country fans, rock fan, pop fan.   It's nice they wanted to hear it and I really don't mind those types of comparisons when I know someone isn't into this type of music at all.

However - if a person who's really into dark stuff listened to the album - they'd probably hear the 'hints' of darkness and not even think it was really a dark album at all.   I find quite a bit of it uplifting.   Then again - I'm biased.

As far as Lustmord goes - I really like 'dark stars' from him (i just wish there were track markers in the darn thing...) - at one point it made me think of some giant beast flying through underground caverns - in a sort of dungeons and dragons - dungeon crawl sort of way... 

I don't listen to enough of the darkest dark ambient music (still haven't heard any CMI artists except in mp3 samples...) - so - I don't have a lot of input on it.   

John Koch-Northrup .: jkn [AT] johei.com .: owner / artist .: http://relaxedmachinery.com .: http://twitter.com/jkn .: http://flickr.com/johei

9dragons

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Re: Darkest Ambient
« Reply #28 on: July 25, 2008, 02:19:03 PM »
Could it be this that causes people to feel so uneasy?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tritone

jdh

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Re: Darkest Ambient
« Reply #29 on: July 26, 2008, 01:13:55 AM »
My question is;who or perhaps why do you listen to dark ambient.I also listened to this for a bit,many years ago,Lustmord,etc.. nothing ever really black like death metal or some of the artists mentioned here,until I discovered what I was looking for,which was more space or deep space or drone,even drift music,such as SOTL,Vir Unis,Rich,Grassow,some Fax/Hypnos,etc. in the early 1990s
The very nature of dark(ness) to me means nightmares,feeling hopeless,sad,etc..so why would someone want to create this or listen to it.Maybe it is an age thing where you progress from genre to genre.In the early 80s,for a brief time I was into Throbbing Gristle,SPK,etc..then went into other types.The Lustmord phase did not last long though I think it is very well done for what it is.For me,it was a gate to the music above.
But then I have never been attracted to horror films either.
Anyway,that is the question,not a judgement on anyone but curious.

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Re: Darkest Ambient
« Reply #30 on: July 26, 2008, 01:30:19 AM »
Well, in response, Iíll throw in the conclusion to a profile I wrote last year on the Cyclic Law label (mentioned earlier in this thread). I came to review the labelís output without any prior knowledge of it, and found some of the best and worst of the Dark Stuff:

ď[...] Having reached the end of a fantastic voyage, this phonaut is aware of having encountered a dazzling and demonic array of sonic fables, not all of which have been entirely fabulous. It's unclear whether some of the extremely well-realized but occasionally deeply discomfiting music released by Cyclic Law is a serious contribution to a debate about, say, "the prevalent decadence that is around and deep within us" and the "wastefulness" which signifies "the imminent, definitive end of all things" (from New Risen Throne's press releases). The skeptical might see it as merely some kind of pretentious adolescent post-Tolkien Mordor lore-mongering transposed to soundworld. A charitable view would see the music as part of a crusade "to illustrate what dwells within the shadows our consciousness deliberately hides. Facing our most inner fears, hopes, and regrets is a way to get aware of what our environment constantly tries to annihilate and sounds are the most eloquent mean to transcend the rage and the wastefulness. Rumbling machines, deep and mesmerizing soundscapes, distant voices from other eons are our weapons. And they're now loaded..." (from kindred webpage "Archetyp"). But whether Cyclic Law and its like have a genuine Martial Plan or this is merely the new sound of Dungeons and Dragons is a moot point. The depressive nihilism that fuels much of this music would need conversion into galvanic force for good. How does the fantastically well-crafted sound of the hateful, the deathly and the wretched become transformed or is it content to simply wallow in woe worship? Where is the gnostic energy to spin anti- to agonistic? Ultimately this may be just a new breed of Nordic hollow men with money and a genre template to burn on computers and soundtools kidding themselves that a new nasty skin for the the old Aristotelian ceremony of catharsis is something vital and transcendant. It may be, but thinking doesn't make it so.

In sum, this "obscure ambient" occupies both extremes of a spectrum of engagement with the world (some have criticized dark ambient for lack of such engagement, but this is misguided). At one end, it engages with the world's insufficiency by holding a mirror up to its excesses or horrors and amplifying it - a music of plangent protest. At the other end it responds to this world by otherworld-making, through creation of and/or retreat into an entirely different, more elemental universe (space, extreme nature) - a music of reflective retreat. From a purely musical perspective, it's the latter-the likes of Kammarheit and Northaunt, with their Nordic updates of On Land, of Gustaf Hildebrand and Arbour's own Visions, boldly going beyond Magnificent Void and Black Stars - that seem to be of greatest interest to those who are fired by their love of electronic music, rather than by love of death. The music of Eros triumphs over that of Thanatos.Ē
Excerpt from profile at: http://www.ei-mag.com/profile0011.php
« Last Edit: July 26, 2008, 01:33:49 AM by Undershadow »

9dragons

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Re: Darkest Ambient
« Reply #31 on: July 26, 2008, 03:11:33 PM »
Maybe I'm really weird... but "Magnificent Void" I've never thought of as 'dark'.    I like it - I find it relaxing.

This sentiment sums up how I feel about dark ambient, or rather what it means to me, what I look for in it. To me, the word 'dark' represents relaxation, escape from the cares of the day, or entry into a world of deeper imagination. I guess the terminology of the word has come to be just an adjective meaning bleak, evil or harsh. I look at it more as music willing to explore stranger and murkier reaches of consciousness. I know the impulse that drives me to this music, at least what drove me in the past. I was living in Beijing some years back, and it is a huge, smoggy, industrial sprawl. Quite an alienating place, but also full of deep delight, in the weird little alleys and remnants of a former age to be found in corners that had not yet been bulldozed. It excited many contradictory feelings in me. At the time I really wanted to hear two types of music: the pastoral, dreaming escape of music like the two Rich/Roach collaborations, Strata and Soma. And on the other hand, shimmering industrial dark ambient like Rapoon's "Fires of the Borderlands". The urge to the former I can see as just an urge to hear magical sounds of water and ancient caverns, a kind of healthy escapism into imagination. The urge to the latter, I think, was to have a music that echoed my environment, that mirrored it and yet took it in to reflect it back in a manageable form. I guess that is what art does, takes things in, our fears, and makes them into something tangible, something able to be enjoyed on an aesthetic level. Those deep, soaring, yet industrially tinged soundtracks spun by Rapoon would cause me to go to the balcony of my room and look out over the expanse of the city, the darkness and the twinkling lights. It somehow made things more bearable, more understandable. Like a world in miniature to be regarded from aspects not normally allowed.

The best dark ambient walks this fine balance between fear and wonder. I would compare it to the feeling of swimming in the deep ocean, and being able to swim near a whale. It wouldn't be threatening, but it would be terrifying in a giddy way, just to be near something so massive, so otherworldly to one's own scale...
« Last Edit: July 26, 2008, 03:14:10 PM by 9dragons »

darkenedsoul

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Re: Darkest Ambient
« Reply #32 on: July 26, 2008, 03:32:09 PM »
What most people call "dark ambient" now, didn't really exist when I got into ambient music.  When people talked about "dark ambient" 10 years ago or so, they meant ambient music that was darker, deeper, and slower... stuff like Lustmord, Thomas Koner, or Trances/Drones.  More like what I'd now refer to as "night ambient," not meant to be spooky, just sedate and subdued.  By this definition, stuff like Oophoi or Vidna Obmana or even my own work might be considered "dark ambient."

Then a bunch of black metal crossover artists sort of took the words "dark ambient" and it became sort of industrial-ish, abrasive ambient with overtly "spooky" or aggro elements.


I don't know if I'd say it didn't exist 10 yrs or so ago. Think about early(ier) Tangerine Dream stuff, like Green Desert for one. Fabulous album, but fairly dark from what I remember of it. A fair piece of their earlier stuff could be considered dark ambient, even though a lot was/is sequenced.

I played in a doom metal band, I've been into extreme metal now for 18 yrs or so. Prior to that was Trower (still!), Rush, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and the list can go on and on. I still listen to that stuff when I'm in the mood (nostalgia some times, especially for Rush/Trower as they are my two favorite guitarists).  Some of the black metal crossover artists as you pointed our are so-so, some good, some not so.  I like the dark ambient for the mood it tends to bring across, I just let my mind wander/relax listening to it. Same goes for Doom metal (prefer extreme to stoner - I don't even know why it's lumped in with Doom as it has nothing to do with it). Doom doesn't depress me at all, I love the stuff. Same for dark ambient, moving, emotive, scary, pensive, thought provoking. At least that's what I get out of listening to it. Same with most other forms of music.

In a bad mood? Crank up Meshuggah - Rational Gaze (or pissed off at neighbor ;-) ) as that's a killer song and my guitar instructor commented at how they put a lot of effort into that song with regards to structure and vocal delivery. To me, that says a lot coming from him as he's old school/classic rock type....haha, I pummel him with brutal stuff now and then ;-)

Joe R

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Re: Darkest Ambient
« Reply #33 on: July 26, 2008, 05:08:10 PM »
To put it in a nutshell, I like dark ambient (The "scary" kind of dark ambient) for the same reason other people like ghost stories, scary movies, or roller coasters. I just like that creeped-out feeling. And in the best dark ambient, there's always something mysterious and unknowable just beyond your grasp...




Joe R

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Re: Darkest Ambient
« Reply #34 on: July 26, 2008, 05:10:30 PM »
For the record, I also love ghost stories and scary music, but I HATE roller coasters!

darkenedsoul

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Re: Darkest Ambient
« Reply #35 on: July 27, 2008, 03:31:20 PM »
For the record, I also love ghost stories and scary music, but I HATE roller coasters!

Come on, take the PLUNGE on the roller coaster!  ;)

Joe R

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Re: Darkest Ambient
« Reply #36 on: July 27, 2008, 05:08:05 PM »
For the record, I also love ghost stories and scary music, but I HATE roller coasters!

Come on, take the PLUNGE on the roller coaster!  ;)

Never again!

Last time I was on a coaster was at Cedar Point, many years ago. There was a dark tunnel you go through, while a camera snaps rapid-fire photos of the people in the cars, which are then displayed at the entrance of the ride. My face in the photo was so twisted with horror and agony, that people in the crowd were actually pointing it out and laughing!

I'm a real roller coaster wimp! :-[

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Re: Darkest Ambient
« Reply #37 on: August 07, 2008, 05:34:45 AM »
Lots of great music listed here. I've always loved Irrlicht and Cyborg by Klaus Schulze and Zeit by TD - I consider them dark in tone. I love  Where the Black Stars Hang and Zoetrope by Lustmord, I've picked up the impression that Black Stars was a seminal album, perhaps not so much the cheese as the mold later cheese was made in, but please correct me if I am wrong.

I also Like Mathias Grassows Dissolution - a great slab of very dense dark ambient. Also Refract Nick Parkin - not so much scary but dark and watery (and every sound sourced from metal).

Would the Backward version of TG's Second Annual Report (I think that was the one, I had it many, many years ago) count as darkest ambient - not just in the sound andenergy but also in the subject matter......

drone on

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Re: Darkest Ambient
« Reply #38 on: August 07, 2008, 10:44:15 PM »
Dissolution is a great dark ambient album, I agree.  I should get that one out of my huge pile of Grassow stuff (if I can find it, hah!), I've lost count of how many I have by him.  The Place Where the Black Stars Hang is definitely one of the seminal dark ambient releases.  I think that one is often used as a comparison for so many others that came after it.  The sounds of subatomic particles swelling in a miasma of dark matter in a galaxy far far away......

9dragons

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Re: Darkest Ambient
« Reply #39 on: August 08, 2008, 12:24:35 AM »
Had a completely awe-inspiring listen to "Greed", the second collaboration between Vidna and Klinik. At the time of its release, I think there were some comments on the forum regarding this one. But it deserves to be mentioned again, in a big way. Maybe some listeners might not groove on the techno/gothic edge to this one, but I personally was blown away by this album. It transcends any notion that it is just techno, and uses the elements of techno to make an utterly masterful slab of dark ambient majesty driven by mighty beats. Very beautiful and affecting, and surprsingly inspirational. The dark flow of Vidna and the beats of Klinik work so well together...

Wait a minute, is dark ambient allowed to have beats? I would think so, much of it does seem to have a rhythmic edge, even if it is rasping metal or dark slammings echoing in the distance.

Also wanted to mention again the Dante Trilogy by Vidna as being one of the most totally realized and immense works of dark ambient out there. Having these three albums in one's collection is truly to have a treasure that can take years to discover fully.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2008, 12:36:18 AM by 9dragons »