If HR Giger had written music as well as created art, I think he would have created dark ambient music. Not only would he have created dark ambient music, he would have created some of the darkest, but most beautiful piece we have today. Even though HR Giger never created music, his presence, his will, can still be seen on the music industry today. Just look (or listen rather) at the music that exists in the dark ambient world today. It’s full of mournful drones and hyperrealistic melodies that loosen the listener’s grip on reality. Enter, now, Vacuum Aeterna, a newcomer to the ethno ambient world and their debut, Project:Darkscapes. While nothing they do on the album is groundbreaking or earthshattering, what they do with it is amazing. They have created something with the same sort of style and gravitas as HR Giger, and just like the artist, this group promises to be prolific and exceptional.
As the album starts, I couldn’t find the sense that this was an ethno ambient album, and even now that I’ve listened to the album several times, I’m still not utterly convinced that it is. Vacuum Aeterna follows a similar, if more mechanized, path that one of my other favorites, Paleowolf follows. Instead of being “ethnic” the soundscape of the album should more accurately be called tribal. There is something primal in the music, the way that nature blends with the percussion. It’s not otherworldly. No, it’s distinctly worldly. Each sound, each beat, each rhythm is thoroughly grounded in the world we live in. Just maybe not the world we see.
Project:Darkscapes is a very human, very natural album filled with the hidden world that we often overlook because it’s not on par with the industrial, mechanical world we live in. Project:Darkscapes shows us the world of the shadow. It’s dark yet colorful, vibrant and full of life even though every heartbeat of this place has been ignored by the modern world.
I’ve come to expect dark ambient, regardless of the subgenre and style, to be chaotic or violent or both. Project:Darkscapes is neither. It’s quiet, almost calm, and unassuming. I hope it’s taken as a compliment when I say that this album can be played and almost fade into the background, becoming the background itself. Unless this album is at full volume and you’re listening closely (as I have to do, obviously) you can forget that it’s playing. It’s not like a lot of dark ambient that makes a show of itself, that blasts drones and distortions so loud that you have to yank your headphones off on occasions. Not so Vacuum Aeterna. Just like the shadowy, tribal world this album represents, you have to look for it. You have to want to hear it to be able listen. Does this music have a soul that seeks out the listener? That’s a question for another day, but this music definitely has something in it that makes you work for it.
As I said before, the music here is tribal but despite my best efforts I couldn’t find anything that was conspicuously ethnic. All the sounds and beats were amorphous and nebulous. The notion that they are tribal is irrefutable, but not a single sound could I find that pointed me in a direction of culture. I was more than a little stressed the first time I heard it because I felt as though I had to find the culture the music came from. Then I remember Paleowolf and the lack of culture but the presence of true man, the people that existed before culture was culture, that exist outside of that culture vs culture world and instead thrive in the man vs nature realm. Once I found that, and the sooner you therefore realize it, the more the music and the narrative of man vs nature in the darkscape became clearer. The idea and the boundaries of the “darkscape” also become clearer and more concrete in the mind of the listener. This is the place where there is no culture, not ethnic backgrounds. There is just man. Alone. He is dependent on himself and no other, no other depends on him. His wits alone, his skills, his heart, keep him alive. He fears and loves nature, as she hates and loves him. They are in a constant struggle, these two. Nature and man. No one gaining total supremacy over the other, nor giving away everything. Nature provides, yet nature takes away. Man destroys yet creates music. The darkscape is an endless cycle, removed from time but not removed from reality.
Vacuum Aeterna have crafted something wonderful here. Time will tell how classic the album becomes but I can tell you that it is something that will be playing for a long time in my playlists. Project:Darkscapes is the starting point of their journey. It’s going to be a long, fascinating journey, I can promise you that. Cyclic Law struck gold here. The music is engaging and primal, it’s music you can feel in your soul and your blood. It’s a call back to the older times when there was not so much clutter in the way. Hit the reset button with Vacuum Aeterna.
Highlights: Eulogy, Liminal Rites
If you enjoyed this try: Paleowolf, Xerxes the Dark, Ugasanie
- Anatomy of A Spirit
- Liminal Rites
- Nibela Equinox
- Control Metamorphose
- Parasites Fall
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