Roly Porter: Aftertime (Subtext)
I’ve become fascinated with the vaguely horror-tinged cinematic underbelly of dark ambient music again after a long break away from it. I had a phase in my late teens/early 20s where I was really absorbed in a lot of macabre sounds, a time when I dove fully into the darker areas of ambient music as well as full on noise and in between. Cold Meat Industry set the standard at the time, and while I’ve been dipping my toes back into the vague terrain of dark ambient music, there seems to be a slightly more vague world that is far less obvious but somehow more beguiling in its intentions or results. It’s not the complete horror show of Brighter Death Now by any means, but artists like Deaf Center, Kreng and Roly Porter all bring the darkness with a startlingly seductive ease in a way that both feels timeless and utterly current. Perhaps it’s all three of these artists releasing prime albums this year that has me playing gestalt, but Aftertime seems to conjure up similar murky, uncomfortable imagery like Kreng’s Grimoire or Deaf Center’s Owl Splinters. It’s heavy on drama with swooning strings, but that’s complemented by waves of static, unpredictable percussive effects, blasts of feedback and more. Every once in a while, it develops a rhythmic pulse not unlike Pan Sonic at their most cinematic, but most of the time this music does not adhere to meter so loyally. “Hessra” is a really handsome intersection of noise, melancholy strings and rhythmic undercurrent, while “Giedi Prime” comes off like Murcof scoring a haunted building. It’s not all sinister, though; “Caladan” is a nice idyllic breather in the latter half of the album that helps to balance out the dynamics. Highly recommended for those unafraid of the darker side.