Here’s one of the ambient albums that has stuck with me the most over the years, the debut album Hymnvs from Hoedh released all the way back in 1993. A dark melancholy pervades the release, with it’s windy synths and occasional pulsing electronics, perhaps coming from a troubled mind, Thorn Hoedh sadly passing away in 2003. But he’s left us one of the most haunting and powerful releases within the field of dark ambient.
The opener Heilige (Sophisme Sonores) is one of the strongest pieces of the album. Meditative slow synths wind their way along the track with a windy, cold sound against a slightly pulsing bassline. It’s semi-dramatic with it’s dark atmosphere, and rather bleak despite it’s soft and calming repetitive nature with ten minutes of brilliant lo-fi synth work. Thorn Hoedh shows some variation with the infinitely brighter Hoedh (Sonnenklang) with it’s glitchy electronic rhythms and bright celestial pads that aren’t as tied to a repetitive melody as the preceding piece, a more free form bright journey. The brass synthwork on the following piece Vom Zauber der Weihe create a gloomy foreboding sound, again though not as tied to the same melody, the dark jazzy undertones to the music combined with the brighter lo-fi synths giving it a dark inquisitive atmosphere akin to a soundtrack of a noir crime theme.
Hymnus (Neuroprogrammierung and Aurora (Pfad Der Imagination returns to the sound of meditative synths and a focus on repetitive melodies like the opener with less of an insistent dramatic air and one of soft melancholy, an atmosphere derived from the feeling that this sadness was dredged out from each tired press of the keys. The brass synths return on Das Geistige Universum, though with more of a melancholy air, breathing through a tired and beautiful sadness in the forefront against some troubled and erratically moving layers of synth. The final piece Heilige (Mantra der Rotation) sees out the album with a delve into lo-fi eerie dungeon synth, a conglomeration of dense synth drones tunneling deep into the depths of the wet earth in an autumnal downpour with a ghostly whisper from beyond the grave in the background from another layer of eerie synths.
Anyone can use a combination of dense tones to create a dark sound, but Hoedh uses a lot of variation as well as the powerful influence of his own abject melancholy to create a more real and rich effect, though shimmers of brightness make their way through from time to time throughout the album with it’s rich pallette of lo-fi sounds, making Hymnvs one of the unsung classics of the dark ambient genre rather than just another conglomeration of soulless dark tones.