Dark ambient and horror soundtracks have become some intertwined for me recently that a few times I have to double check to make sure of what I’m listening to. I think that’s a great thing. Dark ambient music is so underground that if you find someone that listens to it when you’re not online you kind of have to do a double take. It’s rare to find someone who likes dark ambient in everyday life. Horror movies pervade our consciousness, the themes and songs from the best soundtracks can instantly come back to us if we only hear a single measure. With dark ambient and horror soundtracks growing closer to one another I think it’s a great opportunity for dark ambient artists to get the recognition they so richly deserve. The music of dark ambient can be describe, I think, as the music of daily life when it’s thrown into the shadows. Dark ambient often acts as a catalyst for thought and reality and the chaotic miasma that lies in between those two. The music warps what we know and understand and molds it into something we cannot recognize but know is true. Dark ambient, more so than any other genre out there today, takes a hard look at our world and tells the listeners what is really out there.
Malignant Records is one of the best at this. Consistently they find acts that are willing to get down in the dirt with their sounds to show the listener something new, to provide them with a new, often uncomfortable, experience. Monocube continues that tradition with their latest opus “The Rituals.”
What I found so enticing about the album was the horror soundtrack nature. As I mentioned above, horror soundtracks and dark ambient music are moving closer and closer to each other. The Rituals is another clear step in that direction. I listened to the album twice just getting a feel for the atmosphere of the album, it’s dark yet rich. It’s industrial but it’s organic rather than mechanical. The entire album has a beauty about it that I haven’t really encountered before. The Rituals uses a lot of familiar elements in dark ambient, fuzz, drone, field recordings, atonal instruments, and throws them all together in the pot, allowing each sound to grow on its own and find its footing.
The sound of the album is mature, as if the themes and motifs are from an older film. Imagine, if you will, you are watching the second movie in a series where all the characters have been fleshed out, the music has matured and each theme is solidly linked to the nature of the film. You haven’t seen the first film but you are aware it exists because of the sound of the second film. That’s how I felt listening to the Rituals. Each sound is rich and deep with meaning that goes beyond this one album. I haven’t had the pleasure yet of listening to Monocube’s other works but if they are anything like the Rituals I know I will be in for a treat. I would wager that each album is a step in a larger picture, a piece of a massive time spanning puzzle.
Each song on the Rituals is a different point of view from a group of cultists performing a ritual. Not “a” ritual, “the” ritual. The music shows no fear, each of the ritualists have no fear, no doubt in their mind as the night and the darkness close in about them. Each song shows a different face, a different set of emotions. Each song as its own personality and its own instrumentation. Some songs have lots of field recordings, distorted as they are, while other have an almost bluesy folksy guitar sound to them. I love that each song has its own identity and its own purpose. It lends the album strength because when you add them all together and you have the complete picture, the complete ritual.
I could go on about what Fenrir means and the chaotic nature of the Jötunns and how that relates to the music (specifically Father Fenris) but I don’t think this is the place to discuss my particular beliefs. Instead I will leave you with this to ponder as you listen to the music. What is the ritual about? What is the cult? What are they doing? Why?
An album like this is a great way to explore the existential nature of oneself and one’s surroundings, as well as nature and how it shapes the perspective we carry with us through life. It’s not an album that forces you to question what you believe or what you see but it encourages you to look deeper into things, examine everything from as many view points as you can. There is no right or wrong way to listen to an album like this as long as you think as you do so, look beyond the music and see the deeper meanings. Monocube makes it easy to do this on this album and I think that’s the main reason I enjoyed this album as much as I have.
Listen and support!