posted on 3/2006 By:
Very well done dark, organic, soundtrack-esque electronic ambiance...
So, why the hell does music that falls under the ‘electronic’ or ‘ambient’ banner end up on a metal website? I suppose some people would question its validity, but I think it makes sound sense. Part of metal’s appeal to me is its inaccessibility to the mainstream. I like the fact that I gain so much bloody enjoyment from a style of music others can hardly differentiate from noise or monster attacks. And despite my steady diet of black, doom, death, and traditional metal, I sometimes need a break from the resonant assault. Ambient/electronic music, when done well, provides me respite from the beatings, guttings, and doomings metal delivers to my brain daily, without me having to wander out into the rush-hour traffic that is mainstream music.
That being said, Norway’s Karsten Hamre has his fingers in a lot of ambient/electronic pies. He actively takes part in about five different musical outlets - Defraktor, Dense Vision Shrine, The Flux Complex, Veiled Illusions, and Arcane Art - producing upwards of 20 releases over the past 10 years. According to what I’ve researched, each project has a similar foundation built on dark, brooding soundscapes, but they differentiate themselves by leaning heavier on different sub genres individually, whether it be ambient, industrial, electro, or darkwave. Broken Whispers, my first introduction to the man, dips heavily into dark-ambient waters, with heavy leanings toward ‘soundtrack’ qualities as well.
To the passing non-enthusiast, Broken Whispers will probably float by without much notice, or possibly end abruptly with the standard “I don’t get it” line, but those with an astute ear will find much, much more hidden within these dark walls. As I mentioned earlier, the work has a very dark, organic, ambient feel, but scattered throughout we find many other elements that add depth, emotion, and awareness. For example, Track 1, “Abandoned Glory”, could have been ripped directly from a scene in War of The Worlds. It has a very “hiding in the basement while waiting to see what kind of aliens are upstairs” feel to it, due in part to the very alien/insect-like rasping occurring throughout. Track 2, “Fortuna Synapsis”, slows the pace down further and adds a slow, impending keyboard and ‘flittering leaves’ sound to the mix which left me feeling as though I were slowly floating down a river, deep in a rainforest, wondering whether or not the native peoples hidden in the trees were about to blast a fucking dart into my neck. Track 3, “The Black Waves”, begins with more of an industrial touch to the ambience, with random clanks and metallic clangs scuttling about, but eventually drifts into a sort of “Conan pushing the Wheel of Pain” soundtrack feel. In fact, there’s really only one completely quiet, ambient track, “An Ominous Serenade”, which immediately brought to my mind the quieter, snowy parts of Velvet Cacoon. The last two tracks each creep past the 9-minute mark, and further solidify the overall impending atmosphere created by the album.
Karsten Hamre has delivered a very fine, cheerless ambient/electronic album with Broken Whispers. It’s something fans of the genre are sure to enjoy, and I’d certainly feel comfortable recommending it to those interested in dark soundtrack inspired music as well. It will certainly make a fine companion to your gloomy, somber moods.
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