Friday, 25 October 2019

Syrinx - Dark Skies.

Album: Dark Skies
Artist: Syrinx
Catalogue no: SomSon 141

     1.      Dark Fields
     2.      Glacier

Once again, I find myself in the universe of sounds promulgated by the Sombre Soniks label, this time courtesy of Syrinx. This project has already released two albums on the same label, but this is my first encounter with them. In contrast to many dark ambient acts this is a two tracker, for a combined total running time of over an hour. In many ways (and this is betraying my roots in the ‘alternative’ music genres) I find that longer tracks are much more conducive to allowing the artist to explore and expand on all the possibilities inherent in the themes they’re expounding, further allowing ideas and nuances to play bigger roles in enhancing and deepening the music.

‘Dark Fields’ is our entry point on this one, a distant drone hoving into view and slowly smothering the light, darkening the day, and stifling all colour and detail. Perhaps the sunset depicted on the cover provides a clue – within a short time these vibrant colours will have been extinguished and subsumed into the hues of night, the part of the daily cycle where all is hidden and obscured. Shimmering and ringing drones greet us as the sun goes down, perhaps leaving noctilucent clouds shining eerily high up in the atmosphere, their pale light not enough to illuminate anything but themselves. Soon colour has drained away completely, and mournful cello-like notes precipitate the appearance of fleetingly seen silhouettes, and shadows deeper than night itself flit rapidly between unfathomable pools of darkness. The stars appear dim tonight, their light lacking confidence, or perhaps it’s because they’re afraid of what they might witness and thereby tarnish themselves.

Night is a separation from the comforts of daylight, a time when vulnerabilities become sharper and more pronounced, and more keenly felt. It is the time of phantoms and ghosts, the time when, in the small hours, memories of our pasts often come unbidden, to haunt us like spectres of our fears and insecurities made manifest, to worry the edges of our consciousness and to pluck our nerve-strings. It is a time when all becomes magnified, when reason is sometimes overwhelmed by absurdity and insanity. At these moments we are most defenceless and open to outside influence – once the light returns, however, the phantoms fade away, leaving us wondering with incredulity at how we could have been taken in.

Saying that, ghosts do indeed walk abroad in this light-forsaken land – ragged spectral figures looking to attach themselves to any vulnerable person open to their malign intent. Their whispers and icy-cold fingers tap the nerves with chill purpose, sending tingles of alarm broadcasting through our systems. Those tiny trills attach themselves limpet-limpet to any perceived fear or vulnerability, no matter how small or insignificant. Then, it’s simply a matter of enlarging the fear out of all proportion to any kind of reality.

‘Glacier’ is chillier but still speaks of personal isolation and separation, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Here we’ve been deposited in the midst of a vast ice-field surrounded by sheer-faced glaciers, the ground at our feet extending on all sides to the roots of those massive glacial barriers nothing a blanket of white, its surface made into an unblemished sheet by the constant winds and daring us to besmirch its perfect banality. Up above, a startling azure sky, perfect in its clarity and lack of clouds, is outlined by the rim of the glaciers and arches overhead like an upturned china bowl. More than the fact that everywhere we look it’s exactly the same so that we are left unsure as to which direction to head in (if indeed there is anywhere to go) is the confusion as to how we got here in the first place – one minute it was all rosy and purposeful but when we looked up we discovered that the illusion had somehow been shattered and was replaced by the truth of things. It is only now that it dawns on us just how truly lonely we are.

Two long pieces, based around ideas on the themes of isolation and separation, and exploring every facet of what those two words mean. It’s a densely oppressive album, weighty in its explication of those terms, two relatively small words that carry such immense meaning. And to some out there, those meanings are not only felt but lived, ingrained into every fibre of their lives and being. If you’ve never experienced these feelings, then Syrinx’s Dark Skies will go a long way in bringing the listener a virtual recreation, a truly mood-suppressing vision of what it really feels like. As dark ambient goes, this truly is a black hole, mining the most numbing of human conditions and extracting its ores, and smelting them into something quite powerful. This is as black as it gets.

Available as a download from the Sombre Soniks Bandcamp page:

Psymon Marshall 2019. 

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