I was telling someone the other day that dark ambient hinges on horror, that the two have a complicated but deeply intertwined relationship. I have always been a fan of subtle horror, the kinds that sorts sneaks up on you and covers you before you have a chance to escape rather than the jumpy scary stuff which is 95% predictable. Yen Pox is the subtle horror of the dark ambient world. “Between the Horizon and the Abyss” is their latest show case that carries the listen to the edge of reason, where reality and madness intermingle.
The album is a glorious 75 minute journey through a world that might have been similar to ours at one point, but something went wrong. Very wrong. Life is reduced to the shadows where nightmares saunter back and forth. The slow, eerie dronings make me feel as though I’ve gone through the pages of literature and somehow have found myself in Carcosa, the great dread city. There is something hiding in this place, something we made ourselves and swallowed us, devoured us, and left us. Yet it has never left, it rules this vast, dusty, empty world filled with hungry shadows. The story within this album searches for this beast, this cataclysmic monstrosity. We are traveling through a dead world, a world that was once bright and full of joy; the music mourns the passing of this world as it sees the remnants of the past. Yen Pox uses something in the music and soundscape of the album that I have never really heard before: tragedy. Sounds that tug on the heart, that make the loss of this world all the more real and personal. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is, but it is there. It’s the foundation of the sound in fact.
The horror elements of the story are vast and varied. It’s an amalgamation of little pieces of all the nightmares we have, a sense of horrific dread, fear of the unknown, things watching us for the hot shadows. It’s all there and it makes listening uncomfortable. Not in a bad way though, the music is brilliant and it doesn’t immediately overload the senses with more than we could handle, it slowly builds like a slowly boiling pot of water. We are like the frog that doesn’t realize it’s being cooked until it’s too late. The music is, ironically, very relaxing but I would never want to fall asleep to this for fear all my nightmares would see me on the other side.
The chanting and droning vocals adds a new layer of uneasiness to the experience. I hate to use Lovecraftian in fear of making it a cliché but it fits perfectly here. The chanting brings me back to the first time I read Call of Cthulhu and remembering the cultists and their worship of the Elder Being. In the same way, in this apocalyptic dead world, there are those that worship this monstrous thing within the shadowy city. It’s wonderfully chilling.
I thought this album was wonderful, amazing. I think this album helps define what dark ambient is. The music and soundscape intermixes with great atmosphere. I recommend this album, particularly in the wee hours of night.
Listen and support!