Category: Reviews

Labyrinth from Eighth Tower Records

Labyrinth from Eighth Tower Records

Labyrinth is the latest compilation from Eighth Tower Records, purveyors of fine ultraterrestrial dark ambient, drone, and electronic music. With a total of twenty two tracks there’s enough darkness here to swallow the Earth whole.
The compilation starts off with “When the Shadows Come” from Psionic Asylum, a deep, dark ambient track that starts you down the path to the Labyrinth. Some of the standouts are track 3, “Luft” by Monocube, which wades into static like you are waste deep in murky waters of the mind. A train whistle is used expertly to disconcert the listener, sounding much like a plane crashing.
Track 6 brings “The Labyrinth” by Warpness with helicopter sound effects that increase the tension. Track 17 is “Hostile to the Past” by Soliloqua which uses creepy organ music that plants the seed in your mind that perhaps coming here was a mistake.
Track 18 is from Traansmutt, entitled “HehBethKathDaleth” and its packed with plenty of disturbing sounds like you’ve accidentally intruded on some kind of ritual in an old Hammer horror film. Other tracks include “Tre” from Necrophorus, “Verminephrobacter eiseniae” from Stigmate, and “We’ll Return to Our Departed Selves” by IOK-1.
Finally, the compilation contains an interesting passage about the nature of the labyrinth itself:
Mazes must be solved, a left brain activity that involves choices and an active mind and logical, sequential, linear thinking. A maze is multicursal, with many paths. If you don’t pay attention, you can get lost in one. Not so with a labyrinth. It is unicursal – one way in, one way out. There are no decisions, no choices, no thinking required. The only choice is to enter. To walk one is a right brain activity involving intuition, creativity, and imagination, and it requires a receptive mindset. You must trust the path, surrender to it.

      A labyrinth is not a puzzle; it is a mystery. Theologian Diogenes Allen illuminates the difference: “When a problem is solved, it is over and done with. We go on to other problems. But a mystery, once recognized, is something we are never finished with. Instead, we return to it again and again and it unfolds new levels to us. Mysteries, to be known, must be entered into. We do not solve mysteries. The deeper we enter into them, the more illumination we get.”

Track Listing:

1 Psionic Asylum “When the Shadows Come”

2 Sysselman “Submarine” (featuring Radio Feskslog)

3 Monocube “Luft”

4 Necrophorus “Tre”

5 Sonologyst “System: Maze of Control”

6 Warpness “The Labyrinth”

7 Xerxes the Dark “The Omen”

8 Damballah “Syel Lannwit”

9 Alphaxone “Awakeness”

10 SiJ “Few Sounds From the House Near the Sea”

11 Taphephobia “Twisting Journey”

12 Ashtoreth “Uncertain Path”

13 Globoscuro “Dedalo’s Architectural Liver”

14 Stigmate “Verminephrobacter eiseniae”

15 Silent Chaos “Daedalus of Possibilities”

16 IOK-1 “We’ll Return to Our Departed Selves”

17 Soliloqua “Hostile to the Past”

18 Traansmutt “HehBethKathDaleth”

19 Knobstat – Dirac

20 Monica Vlad – Distant

21 vAaristyma – ei muistiinpanoja alkuliemi

22 SKR Project – Death in Nibiru

https://eighthtowerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/labyrinth

Blu-ray Review: The X-Files – The Event Series

The X-Files The Event Series Blue-Ray disc The truth is still out there and maybe, just maybe we’ll get some answers with the release of The X-Files six episode Event Series.  Airing earlier this year on Fox to disturbingly little fan fair – this 6 hours of The X-Files might just be some of the best hours of the entire series run.

I have to say – watching this Event Series on Blu-ray is by far the better method by which to catch up with Mulder, Scully, and the gang.  It really plays more cohesive – more film like not having the constant commercial interruptions that network TV brings.  It really makes me consider if perhaps a third stand alone film might have been a better platform for telling the tale we get and the quick – short answer is no – there’s not enough information revealed to support a feature and also – we would be unable to get the fun little “go for it” episodes we get.  Season X is broken down into six episodes – three of them play to the X-Files mythos and three of them are little, stand-alone episodes – all of them are pretty damn good.

Things kick off with the episode titled My Struggle and we are re-introduced into Mulder’s motivation – the search for his sister – the search for the truth.  The conspiracy is explained in more depth as is the personal relationship between Mulder and Scully.  Don’t want to say more as the fun of uncovering the secrets for yourself is part of the joy of this little exercise.

The second part of the two-night premiere titled Founder’s Mutation plays heavily into the government conspiracy aspect that the series has used so well throughout its run.  Ultimately, though – this segment kind of goes nowhere and while at the time entertaining,  once you watch the entire season it turns out to be a rather unneeded exercise.  It’s a mythos building episode that doesn’t seem to build the mythos.

Once we get through the two-night premiere episode we veer away from the mythos of the show and head full bore into what for me was always the meat and potatoes of The X-Files – the monster episodes.  We get a couple really well done – fun as hell exercises in the strange.

Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster is unadulterated fun – it’s what makes the genre fun to watch – it makes The X-Files fun to watch.  Again – don’t want to spoil the view but we get a Carl Kolchak homage, we get a great monster that squirts blood out of its eyes and we get some really hilarious tongue in cheek humor.  It’s a wonderful break from the drama and at the end of the day, they take this episode in a direction that I didn’t see coming – that has to stand for something.  The disc is worth buying for this episode alone – it’s one of the best of the entire series run.

Equally fun is Home Again where we once again get another original X-Files monsters, Band Aid Nose Man and he is pure nightmare fuel.  Tim Armstrong of Rancid fame nails his role as Trashman.  While in this episode we do dip our toe just a bit into the show mythos when Scully finds herself having to deal with a personal tragedy that ultimately leads to some personal growth that gets explored more fully in the final two segments. fifth episode

The fifth episode – Babylon – is an important episode on many levels.  The subject matter, which centers around terrorism is timely and scary and at the same time we are also introduced to a duo of new characters – Agents Einstein and Miller who are introduced as another version but not a replacement for our beloved Scully and Mulder.  It certainly sets the series up for a new road that can be traveled.  But even given the heaviness of the subject matter this time around there is still some light-hearted fun as we get Mulder tripping on some mushrooms and going on a little adventure that leads to many firsts for the series. Also in this episode, we herald the return of The Lone Gunman and while they are not key players in this tale – it’s great fun to see them.

Ultimately this all leads to the sixth and last episode in this little reunion and is aptly titled My Struggle II and in many ways answers a ton of fans questions about the future of the show and ties up tons of loose story ends while at the same time leaving things totally open ended while also bringing the series full circle.  Confused?  Good – that’s just how I want you.  You’re going to have to watch if you want to see where they take things but for this X-Phile – I was content with where they have taken things – I like Einstein and Miller and their interaction with Scully and Mulder – I’m sold and I think they have set the stage to continue with the X-Files as long as the fanbase supports them.

The Blu-ray itself comes as a duel disc with three episodes on each disc.  Special feature-wise, we are treated to a slew of amazing content:

The X-Files” – The Event Series Blu-ray & DVD Special Features
Deleted & Extended Scenes
Gag Reel
The Makings of a Struggle
Season X: An In-Depth Behind-the-Scenes Look at “The Event Series”
Monsters of the Week: A Recap from the Wildest and Scariest from the Original Series
“The X-Files” – Green Production PSA
Short Film – Grace by Karen Nielsen
Commentary on “Founder’s Mutation” with Chris Carter and James Wong
Commentary on “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster” with David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Kumail Nanjiani and Darin Morgan
Commentary on “My Struggle II” with Chris Carter and Gabe Rotter

The feature titled Season X is well worth your time and chock full of great behind the scenes info.  I enjoyed it almost as much as the season itself.  Overall this release is a must-own for fans and a must see for anyone who has ever enjoyed even one episode of the series.

TheX-Files – The Event Series is out now and if you’ve yet to pick it up – go now and make it happen.

 

by Dave Dreher

 

 

 

Review of Elementals from Sacra Fern by Leo Zaccari

Elementals is a very grounded recording based on the elements of earth, air, fire, and water. The wind plays a major role in this album which is described on their bandcamp page as ritual ambient soundscapes. According their label, Black Mara, Elementals is a “spirit of the Elements”.

“Elementals is a result of working with the subtle world, where the sounds becomes
the key to the unknown, to the mysteries of alchemy. This is an attempt to find the truth of a certain existence in the perceptions and emotions.”

The album is somber, and brings to mind images of autumn and winter, of desolate skies, over fields of rock earth untouched by human civilization. “Place of Force” has a tribal vibe conjuring up spirits of the long dead and forgotten. The centerpiece of the album is creepy sounding “Hole”. Clocking in at ten minutes, this track is by far the darkest and the most likely to be used in a horror soundtrack.

The album is mostly low key, more supernatural than horror, and uses low fi field recordings in place of mechanized synth pop, but it does have a sense of foreboding. Rather than a post apocalyptic world that is the realm of cyberpunk, this album has more of a portent of things to come. Dark things. But it’s a future that is not set in stone. One that may be changed. One that possibly offers hope for humanity.

 

 

https://blackmara.bandcamp.com/album/elementals

The End of the World – Review of Solaris from Antwan Graftio by Leo Zaccari

Antwan Graftio’s Solaris is an album filled with mythological themes and all the dark world ending horrors that come with them. The tracks themselves stand on their own, but when put together they are as pieces of a puzzle that create an amazing tapestry of a story. It is a story repeated in all the ancient cultures of the world, from ancient Chinese folk mythology to the Hindu cultures, to the Babylonians, Egyptians, Olmec, Greek, and Norse mythologies. All cultures used their mythology to make sense of the universe around them, and this album is like its own mythology in miniature.

“Cosmic History of the Earthly World” – works in tribal like percussion to give it a world music vibe with an electro synth cyberpunk feel. “On the Eve of the World Apocalypse” continues the mythological tone of a world in transition from one age to the next.

In ancient mythologies this was called Eschatology, the study of the end of the world. The world ends in a flood mostly because most of the oldest civilizations lived in close proximity to large bodies of water, such as Egypt being on the Nile, Mesopotamia being near the conjunction of the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, and China being near the Yellow and the Yanxte rivers. But in other ancient civilizations, such as the Inca, there are many worlds, or ages, and they end in many different ways, including floods.

“Dead Tree” is another track that continues the mythological symbolism. From the ancient Maya and Inca to the Scandinavian Norse, the world tree is one of the oldest world myths and it is rife with symbolism. The roots that extend into the ground but also the branches that extend outward are meant to symbolize the different but parallel dimensions of this world and the spirit world. If the tree is dead, do the souls of those who have died travel on to the next plane of existence, or are they stuck here to haunt us forever?

“Last Train Cold Winter” is the album’s coldest darkest point, the point at which the old world must be destroyed before it can rise again anew. In both Norse and Mayan mythologies, the apocalypse is preceded by a dark era of lost morals where people lose their humanity. In Norse mythology this is known as Fimbulwinter, and is doubtless the source of inspiration for George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. “Coming Home From Deep Space” has a clockwork feeling to it as well as a more subdued tone. Electronic music lovers might recall the early works of Jean Michele Jarre or Vangelis.

Graftio has constructed an album fitting of a world at the end of an age. An age of Apocalypse is followed by the promise of a new dawn, which brings with it, another album of awesome music.

 

 

https://graftio.bandcamp.com/album/album-solaris-2015

 

Review of Papilionidae from Dawn Tuesday by Leo Zaccari

Remember that evil spirit in the J Horror film The Grudge? Dawn Tuesday’s latest track, Papilionidae, is that same malevolent force in song form. It’s a creeping, unrelenting, horror spectacle that destroys anything in its path and cannot be controlled. Papilionidae is split into two tracks, the first clocking in at twenty minutes, the second at a mere seventeen minutes and six seconds.

The term Papilionidae is the term for the family of butterflies that include, but are not limited to, the Swallowtail butterfly. In choosing this title, Dawn Tuesday might be alluding to some sort of metamorphosis, perhaps suggesting that the listener will undergo some transmutation into some altered form of consciousness. Or perhaps it’s suggesting that it is the transformation into a higher conscious realm that she traveled to receive inspiration for her music?

Papilionidae isn’t just spine tingling horror that belongs in a horror movie – it is a complete cinematic experience all by itself. It needs no visuals because the listener will create their own with the help of this eerie, supernatural music. “Part One” conjures up images of bodies everywhere, blood spattered walls and a killer on the loose. Without words it speaks of horrors too ghastly to imagine and too terrible to speak of.

“Part Two” is more paranormal like the soundtrack of a coven of witches as they commune for a midnight summoning of some otherworldly demonic creature that will carry out their malevolent bidding. Missing children, mutilated cattle, crop circles, foreboding storm clouds, shadows moving across the land all come to mind when listening to this mystical and menacing track that wasn’t so much recorded as it was summoned into existence. Most likely the writing and recording of this otherworldly delicacy involved a ritual killing of some kind. But we best not speak of that.

Pay a visit to Dawn Tuesday’s Bandcamp page, purchase these tracks and immerse yourself in some of the best horror music you will ever find anywhere, in this realm, or in any other. But whatever format you choose to listen to these magnificent beasts, whether on your smartphone, or your computer, be sure to draw a circle around it or use some other religious or traditional folk remedy to ward off any evil that might have come with it.

Just in case.

 

https://dawntuesday.bandcamp.com/album/papilionidae