Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Review: Arkham Angst – 'Sounds And Images Inspired By H.P. Lovecraft'

'Sounds And Images Inspired By H.P. Lovecraft'

Weird fiction author H.P. Lovecraft was a relatively minor literary figure in his own lifetime and probably couldn't have foreseen how his works would go on to become so ingrained in the collective consciousness of western culture. Nevertheless they have and in turn have been inspiring subsequent authors, artists and musicians ever since.

The latest in this long line is a collective known as Arkham Angst from Germany, who blend musical genres such as Experimental, Ambient, Soundscape, Noise, and Electronics into lush and richly textured soundscapes, with Dada-esque collages to illicit the stories they are sound-tracking.

The group's six-track début kicks off with a piano and gloopy bass driven intro, interspersed with hanging strings and subtle noise that has the feel of an old Playstation horror game soundtrack. 'The Nameless City' fares a lot better with its ambient pads creating a sense of space, while scratchy sounds, quiet footsteps and light metallic rhythms create an otherworldly sense of presence. 'The Temple' blends the ambient strings with noise textures to evoke a grimy forbidden space, while vocal samples crackle through like a broken radio and the voice of Markus Küsters gives a subtle narration in German.

Küsters gives a more overt English reading on 'The Dreams In The Witch House' which forces the ambient and experimental sounds a little further into the background initially before they let loose with a cacophony of maddening vocal samples and swirling synths. The longest track on the album 'The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward' repeats the set up and formula of the previous piece with a spoken intro seeing the music take a step back, though the cheesy wolf howls do nothing for an otherwise strong track but detract from the strong vocals. The final track 'Nyarlothotep' is a nice and noisy piece with a more overt use of rhythm that almost veers into witch house territory when the synths and vocal samples come in.

The production is a bit rough and ready for the most part with a definite favouring of the experimental end of the group's sound. But this doesn't detract from it too much. One or two pieces sound a little dated in places but other than that the sounds, mix, and execution are all pretty solid.

This is an interesting release that fans of experimental, dark ambient and noise, as well as those with a complete Lovecraft fixation will find easy to get into. It isn't the most daring or ground breaking in terms of the scope of the compositions, however they are solidly written, well performed and on the whole pretty enjoyable and accessible.  

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