Cyclic Law is a label that has been around for many years now, and always done a pretty smashing job when it comes to promoting and explicating shadow laced music and everything that belongs thereto. From the Instincts/Bustum split CD, released with the catalog number 1st Cycle back in 2002, all throughout an incredible label discography spanning genre defining giants like Kammarheit, Gustaf Hildebrand, Karjalan Sissit and Arcana, Cyclic Law has always put the bien in dark ambient.
My most intense Cyclic Law journey was largely undertaken in the early 2000s, and back then it was all about the droning pads and reverb-drenched field recordings. When I’m now listening to the label’s latest release – newcomer Vacuum Aeterna’s Project:Darkscapes, I can’t help but be somewhat astounded at how dark and ritual ambient keeps evolving, and how diverse a genre it can really be. The pads are there, to be sure, as are the dripping samples of a presumably field recorded nature, but Vacuum Aeterna contains so many other items of interest as well.
The most striking thing is the rhythmic aspects of the album. Ritualistic drums haunt tracks like “Eulogy” and “Liminal Rites”, which to old industrial meatheads like myself immediately summons memories of MZ-412’s more percussion based 90’s work, except this is drenched in a far more “dark ambient-y” production. The result is extremely evocative and attractive – even the cynic in me is somewhat taken aback by the almost catchy, shamanistic drum work, whether it is more obviously synthetic or seemingly preformed or sampled from actual drums.
Speaking of MZ-412, it is worth noticing that there are substantial industrial influences on this album. On “Enenra” synth, carefully arranged junk noises and drum machine rhythms come together under an umbrella of shadow drones and keyboard chords to create a rain drenched, mournful piece of industrial dark ambient that really hits you in the Kundalini. “Control Metamorphose” revolves around a quasi-tonal rhythm, surrounded by bizarrely altered cymbal sounds and strange sonic effects, always embedded in a fleeting cocoon of reverb and what might once have been synthesizers. Similar arrangements abound throughout Project:Darkscapes – hysterically creative combinations of multifarious sound sources and musical ideas, merging within a basic framework of trademark Cyclic Law style dark ambient. When analyzing each of the sound sources as a separate entity, some of them seem idiosyncratic or strange, but in the end it all comes together in an extremely impressive way.
Further comparisons could certainly be made to the more ambient releases of Cold Meat Industries, including the lower-key tracks of Deutsch Nepal. Even so, there is something inexplicably fresh and original about the work of Vacuum Aeterna. Whether it’s up-and-close and in your face like in “Eulogy”, ominous and almost brutal like in “Parasites Fall” or simply dark ambient with an edge as in “Anatomy of a Spirit”, Project:Darkscapes delivers all the way.
Project:Darkscapes is to be released on May 12th, and pre-orders are duly available from Cyclic Law. If you enjoy really great industrial dark ambient, you shouldn’t have to think long before placing one.