If you are new to a band or project, a compilation album is often the best way to gauge what they have done and how their sound has progressed. Often you are treated to unreleased or alternate mixes of material that’s fairly well known already. You have to ability to look at these new tracks with fresh ears and eyes. You have an opportunity that no one else does. I have the same chance with Svartsinn’s Collected Obscurities. I’ve been aware of Svartsinn longer than I’ve been aware of the depth of the genre of dark ambient. Svartsinn was one of those artists was often named alongside metal acts in peoples’ favorite lists. Svartsinn is a mix of industrial and neoclassical ambient, a strange combination to be sure, but he pulls it off. Collected Obscurities stands as a monument to all that he’s achieved, through the release of his own albums to his vast contributions to anthologies over the years.
Despite knowing about Svartsinn, I have to confess before I listened to this compilation of his anthology material I had never sat down and listened to Svartsinn. Looking back on that now, it seems like, well like a sin (no pun intended). I’ve become accustomed to a lot of wild sounds and melodies over the past year or so now and Svartsinn’s material stands above all that. Each beautifully droning melody makes me feel as though I’m transcending the universe. At the same time, though, I’m being told love stories that literature’s greatest couldn’t touch. It’s poetic rather than abrasive. The music of Svartsinn is subtle but it has such depth to it. I could spend hours and pages talking about each sound, each atonal note and moment of field recording as they blend together better than any movie could do these days, but I won’t. Svartsinn is a giant of the dark ambient world. If you don’t know about him yet, now is your chance. If you do, then this album will be filled with nostalgic sounds that, at the same time, make you feel at one with yourself and one with nature. Svartsinn has a way of making you feel separate from everything around you and deeply connected to the universe as well. The music is subtle, but it’s also dark and foreboding, as if the music is some sort of incantation to keep something vast and inhuman at bay.
Much of Svartsinn’s music comes in the form of tubular instruments like bells that echo and drone with distortion, and field recordings, a varied collection of abandoned urban places and untamed wild places. All of this collides to make a listening experience like no other. Short stories, whose entire narrative can be found within a single seven-minute track. Each track has its own story to tell and its own moral. Collected Obscurities is like Aesop’s Fables; each song is part of a greater whole but each song has the strength and longevity to stand on its own.
This is definitely the album to start listening to Svartsinn on. I still have a lot of research to do to find his perfect album but this is a great album to introduce yourself to the project, learn what kind of sounds and stories you will encounter and decide if the music of Svartsinn is for you. I can’t imagine anyone turning down this perfectly crafted compilation. It’s not a random collection of songs that were made around the same time, these were tracks specifically collected and displayed because of their similarity and their closeness in the overall vision of Svartsinn. You’ve heard of Svartsinn, now it’s time to listen to him.
Highlights: Yearning, Fading Horizon, Cold but Strong
For Fans Of: Sabled Sun, Apocryphos, Xerxes the Dark
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- The Fading Horizon
- The Ashen Dream
- Form Is Emptiness
- Cold But Strong
- feat. NORTHAUNT – s/t
- feat. ALLSEITS – Falling Pt. 2
- feat. GYDJA – Terrenum Corpus
- feat. PSYCHOMANTEUM
- September Dirge (Alternate Mix)
Collected Obscurities was released through Cyclic Law Records on June 21st, 2017