How is the world going to end? Is the world going to end? What will happen after the end? What will we be? What will happen to us? These are questions that have plagued humanity for as long as we can remember. We’re a species obsessed with the end. We crave the knowledge of what will happen to us and how it will occur. Why is that? What is so fascinating about the apocalypse? It’s not just an obsession with death, though that does seem to be a part of it, it’s an obsession with conclusions, rebirth, and cycles. I have to admit, even I’m curious about how it will end and how things may or may not continue after this ending. One hundred philosophers offer up one hundred different explanations. Poets, too, wax on endlessly about how it will end, with fire or ice, with a bang or a whimper. Even musicians get in on the action, so to speak. They contemplate with ponderously poetic lyrics and emotional melodies, but the genre that really comes close, I think, to understanding what the end really is (a rebirth) is dark ambient. Dark ambient is a genre that is meant to hover on the edge of reality and the apocalypse. It exists half in philosophical musings, half in misanthropic warnings. Genres like ritual ambient speak of bringing about the end to revitalize and recreate, death industrial speaks of the world turning to filth because of the decadence and uncaring nature of those that abide on the earth. Every subgenre has its own unique approach. Recently, I was able to listen to Sonologyst’s take on the end of the world in his most recent album, appropriately titled Apocalypse. What does the self-described curator of Eighth Tower Records think of the apocalypse? Let’s find out.
After the first listen to Apocalypse, I got the idea to look at the piece like I would the Divine Comedy (I’m not comparing the two, just taking notes on style, approach, and poetic meaning. Sonologyst’s interpretation of the end is both literal one and a figurative one. We are, as a society and civilization, hurdling headlong into the limit of growth, that point at which we will damage the world itself irrevocably. Our world is dying, and so are we. They are connected issues, yet remain a separate thing in the album. Half of Apocalypse is prophesying about the end of the world and the other half is prophesying about the spiritual, moral, and metaphysical degradation we are facing. Throughout the entire album, we have a clear, very structured narrative. The beginning of the album starts with the “Hypnosis” of the masses. We are being indoctrinated to care little for the impending doom that is hurtling towards us. We listen to pretty words and make hollow pledges, only to turn around and repeat the words we are taught to say over and over without thought. We march like drones off the edge of the cliff.
Meanwhile, death is coming in the form of plagues and worse, and we ourselves begin to die but even though, there’s an apathetic attitude toward the whole thing. Who cares? We have our marching orders, we have our mantras. They will save us from destruction, surely. We keep saying it until the last person on earth can’t say it anymore. We continue until we are gone.
Yet the earth is not spared, even after we are gone. The earth is in her death throes, everything can feel it. The oceans are poisoned, full of floating death and decay, the sands of the desolation cover all the world in a single, vast desert. The earth is dead. She is nothing but a corpse, floating in oblivion, unable to be buried. She can’t hear the prayers anymore, there is nothing left. She can’t answer the prayers anymore, there is only death.
In this album, there is no rebirth, no grand hope. There is no deus ex machina come to save us from ourselves and set on the right path again. There is nothing. The world dies without splendor, or indeed, any notice. There are a lot of callbacks, and references to the great sci fi era of the 50s and 60s when the world thought that flying cars were just around the corner and the universe was just waiting to be colonized. There was so much hope and enthusiasm and optimize. This album is a massive subversion of all those tropes and motifs. This album stands in utter opposition.
The composition of the album is such that even the “curator,” Sonologyst himself, doesn’t really know how the sounds will turn out. There is an endgame, a narrative that must be followed yet the sounds, both field recordings, electronica, drones and reverbs, loops, and samples coalesce to form something that cannot be wholly predicted. The sound is organic, measured so that the story develops on its own yet definitively so that it moves to the ending Sonologyst has in mind. The great ending. As I said before, it’s a massive blending of styles that creates a very poignant, and deadly, picture. The great ending is coming. What will we do? What will we say? Can we save the world? Can we save ourselves? Is it already too late? Say it with me now “Svengali, Svengali, Svengali.”
Highlights: Hypnosis, Dying Oceans, Global Threat
For Fans Of: Noctilucent, Fear Modern Man
Support the artist!
Listen, Like, Share, Comment, Recommend, Spread the Word!
- Sulphurous Rain
- Abandoned City
- Stay in your homes!
- Global Threat
- Dying Oceans
- System Collapse
- Towers of Sand
- Prayers from Nowhere
Apocalypse was released through Eighth Tower Records on September 15th, 2017