When I got sent the début self titled release by Portuguese drone artist Aires earlier this year I was blown away. It’s such a bleak sparse record that through inspired ambient soundscapes invokes the feeling of absolute nothingness. Now Aires is back and contributing a track to a split with two other Portuguese drone artists Rui.P.Andrade and Earthly Beasts in a great release where each artist provides a different take on dark unsettling drone.
Aires’ contribution Solvet Cosmos In Favilla starts rather underwhelmingly, with one long bleak drone amid the jangly sound of wind chimes, not doing much of interest. But over the course of the piece it builds, with repetitive ghostly melodies and the sound of faint inaudible voices slowly but surely joining the mix over the drone. As more drones and field recordings come in it gets a bit more interesting, and it’s one for attentive listening. Unfortunately it just fails to recapture that bleak stark atmosphere present on the début.
Rui P. Andrade’s Turdus Merula is anything but underwhelming though. Layers upon layers of dense foreboding drones create an all engulfing atmosphere, swallowing you into a black void. Slow, swirling drones bristle with dark evil energy – though the drones aren’t harsh, the low rumble and melancholic melodies drip with menace and create an overwhelming tension, all with nods to the dark ambient sounds of Hoedh. The way it all gets distorted at the end just adds to the effect, the static combines with the drones brilliantly to create a simply fantastic piece.
Earthly Beast’s contribution Erebus is just as great. The densest low bass tones ebb and flow across the track while short bursts of noise come in over the top at random, their pulsing become more and more intense, the mechanical scrape adding to the sense of dark energy that’s created. Those bass drones are so dense and the bursts of noise so brilliant in their unsettling crashes that it sounds like the sound track to dark magic rituals in underground caverns – there’s nothing bright whatsoever about the track, and it’s brilliant.
Overall all three tracks fit the theme of dark unsettling drone well, although Aires’ Solvet Cosmos In Favilla doesn’t quite hit the same levels of brilliance as it’s successors which are as dense and unsettling as any other drone released all year. Highly recommended.
The release can be downloaded/streamed for free here