Release DetailsLABEL Cold Meat Industry
RELEASED ON 10/16/2005
It's a tricky proposition; Dark Ambient. Most of the time, lets be honest, you press play on the record and it's some poor European 20-something who's too socially inept even for the local Goth scene, making his own soundtrack for his favorite role-playing game or Lord of the Rings installment. Very cheesy, I mean; you understand. Out-of-the-box keyboard presets going through third- and fourth-generation retreads of the Imperial March from Star Wars. That said, I clearly recognize the need for, or at least the usefulness of, this sort of music. I love ambient music, after all. So how do you make music that's dark, moody, and restrained yet evocative, without sounding juvenile and cheap?
Why, like this, of course. Kapnobatai is not metal—at all—but it is really good. I was uncertain, I'll admit it, before I pressed play, having chosen the record, I'll admit it, almost completely on the strength of its cover (awesome cover), and having in my brief preliminary background check seen the word "darkwave" sitting ominously in some paragraph of press somewhere on the web, but my uncertainties were nearly immediately relieved. It is not, first of all, darkwave, to any metric that I possess. It is dark ambient as the term is commonly understood: ominous synth sweeps, a steady if sometimes subtle rhythmic pulse, and diverse, if understated, samples. Indeed, very rarely does the record intrude on the listener's consciousness any further than it is invited, though when it does, the moment is memorable. What makes Kapnobatai better than many of its genremates, and what makes it worth listening to in the first place, is the skill of its composition. It is an altogether sophisticated album, and while anybody with enough time and money can outfit themselves with all the software, equipment, and samples necessary to make a dark ambient record, this particular album shows the hand of a composer who actually knows what he is doing. It is layered and rich, and that makes for an affecting and sometimes creepy listen.
Sometimes it does get a bit samey, and sometimes I do have trouble telling one track from another; this will not be a issue for any listener as much as it might be for me, it's the job of an ambient record to resist those very criteria. As I clearly expressed before, nearly the whole record is a tasteful and subtle affair, there are moments—and I confess, I hold this sort of record up to a greater standard, since it feels like taste is everything when it comes to dark ambience—there are moments when you find yourself distracted by some silly sample or vocal effect. But you have my assurance that these moments are indeed momentary, and few in number.
Dark ambient music, by its nature, lends itself to lazy composition, and indeed lazy listening. One thing I can say for certain then about this record is that there is nothing about it that is lazy. Definitely worth your money.