Normally I like to start my reviews in a sort of philosophical question or statement but sometimes a piece of music hit you hard enough that you have dive straight into the review. Even though it came out last year, Randal Collier-Ford’s The Architects is one of the premier dark ambient albums I’ve come across. Up until a few days ago I had never actually heard anything that he had done (crazy I know) despite knowing all about his talent and legacy. Thankfully I can say that’s in the past and within just a few days I’m a huge fan.
The Architects is very different from his collaborative work in Locus Arcadia. While the collaborative work was very serene, and mechanical, The Architects is a very occultic, avant garde driven piece of dark ambient. I would dare to call it the Watcher (seminal album from Fields of Nephilim) of dark ambient. It forces the listener to go through so many different emotions, from fear to joy to aggression and apprehension. And yet despite being on such a roller coaster, the journey isn’t a tired one. Each emotion is given it’s due then the music subtly shifts.
It’s also hard to ignore the esoteric themes in the album as well, it’s similar to Metatron Omega’s gnostic style ambient without the field recordings, rather relying on a soundscape of drones and distorted instruments to give the listener the surreal feeling of grandeur. Given that the name of the album is The Architects and the surreal feeling, it’s hard for my mind not to conjure up images of colossal, unknowable beings settling on earth and making their presence known and felt. The entire album has not a Lovecraftian vibe, but more a demiurge vs superior god feel to it. There is not the lack of significance and hopelessness that one finds so often in Lovecraftian inspired ambient music. There’s an odd sense of peace about the sound.
That’s not to say that the album is a calming one, not by a long shot. It’s a vibrant album, full of sound and light. There’s a lot going on in the album, even in the moments of quiet, making the listener truly have to listen to each sound.
To me the album is sort of like a catabasis, a journey into an unknown, potentially dangerous place to gain wisdom and understanding before returning to the world. For that reason alone, I think everyone should listen to this album. It’s an amazing journey and Randal Collier-Ford is an excellent stand in for Charon. Everyone won’t get the same thing out of the album, but everyone will get something out of it. It’s just one of those albums you have to listen to.
Listen and support!