Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.
Future Nightmares’ album This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary is an ambient sonic exploration into worlds of shadow and beauty. It is full of textured, nuanced sonic moments that capture atmosphere and emotion. The album is sometimes ethereal and sometimes ominous, but never boring. It keeps the ears and the mind engaged.
Future Nightmares’ use of the potential of sound to create emotion and ambience is skillful on the album. He thoughtfully combines different tones, timbres and sonic textures to weave imagery that can glide with ease or seethe with ominous power as it unfolds. Sometimes I felt like I was gliding, at others I was seized by tension as he drew me along.
I enjoy how This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary resists the trend in ambient music to keep things too quiet and settled. If I want to fall asleep, I’ll listen to breathy floating but Future Nightmares lifts the music to another level in his ability to intertwine sounds to create depth. There’s always a twist or surprise to invigorate the tracks, some detail or little touch to keep me interested.
Track by Track Analysis
“The trees of the mind are black. The light is blue” comes into being as a softly rising, open sounding sonic flow trembles into the music. A gentle wash of slowly undulating, elevated synth vibrates on the edges of the sound and a well of peace pours from the music. I especially enjoy how the auditory impression of wind soughing through grass washes into the track.
A buzzing, insect-like noise shivers in while the breath of constant, gliding sound lifts up behind it. The buzzing fills the sonic space, flitting through it, while a hollow drum moves as the soothing canvas of the music surrounds the ears. All of the sonic elements are subsumed by creamy synths as high voices rise and are cut by the constant, bright line of climbing synth that moves with them.
The music slips along, buzzing sounds floating over its rippling surface as the constant smooth, rising tide of sound below continues The whole track breathes slowly in and out as the sound of wind in dry grass moves, flitting in and out with high bells ringing quickly. The sound starts to fade down, punctuated by silence and now only the bells move toward the end.
Glowing sounds move into hollow space as distant bells echo high over the gruff bass flow to open “The grasses unload their griefs on my feet as if I were God.” The bass is weighty below the elevated sound that echoes out, varying subtly in tone. The ringing has an unending quality to it as it keeps trickling out, alone and lost in the space around it.
Growling depths move below it, supporting the seemingly endless ringing, distant sound. Metallic, repeating synths add a darker, more unsettled feeling to the music. Broken, hissing sounds and reverberating drums briefly touch the music, whispery static creating a percussive pattern. Elevated, gliding and unending high sound goes on, ringing and shining relentlessly. I am intrigued by the organic quality of the hissing, brushing noises. The static crackling is broken into segments as the track fades out.
“Prickling my ankles and murmuring of their humility” starts off with enfolding, warm synths forming a round, soft glow. A bell-like tone is joined by a circular sonic flow and a glockenspiel playing trembling, feather light notes into the all-encompassing sunlight of the synths. The way the bell rings in a seemingly endless vibration creates a sense of peace in me. A female voice sings out a pure note and airy wind drifts in. Under it all, the bell-like tone continues on and a sweeping wind climbs.
Glockenspiel notes drop into the music one at a time and the breeze of caressing sound lifts all the other elements. The whole track feels sacred, still and settling. The delicate washes of sound are joined by bass welling up, adding support and increasing the peaceful sensations in the music. Sound flows in a slightly shining line, waves lapping into the music while a clean, sharp synth plays a long tone. A majestic sound flies into the overall glide of the music, as winds blow and a crackle of static ends the track.
A vaguely ominous, metallic bell rings out into a long line that drips melancholy as “Fumy spiritous mists inhabit this place” begins. The bell continues over an empty, drifting background as shadows rise and a slow wash of gossamer sound is joined by diaphanously haunting tones. There’s an effective creation of misty atmospherics that have an enjoyably eldritch feeling.
The soft bell tone echoes in one long line, accompanied by a threatening, buzzing sound. The tone keeps flowing into the vast sonic space, becoming more insistent and clear. A rough edged, warning sound becomes more urgent as increasing sensations of worry and tension spread through the music. The alarm vibrates and pulses, fading away into the dank miasma that swells from the shadowed synth.
“Separated from my house by a row of headstones” commences as rushing, metallic sounds flit, echo and snap into vast space. A high-pitched sound quickly flies back and forth over a rhythmic, crackle of static that continues to repeat while tapping, banging noises move in. A rushing, shuffling element moves between stereo channels while bass sounds throb and fade. An indistinct wind blows far in the distance as the drifting sonic element rises, falls and breaks unevenly.
Elevated, tapping sounds move while deep bass pulses and fades. The hollow wind that twists in is split by elevated, soft, brushing sounds that move across the music’s surface while the air moves in open sounding breaths. My ears are intrigued by the patterned, repeating crackle as it hisses and rushes. A dense, medium-low sound with a resonant hum shifts back and forth between channels. Bass bounces in and fades before the scraping sound is broken by high-pitched tapping before the track ends.
Insectile chirring moves over a threatening background that sweeps and growls, vibrating roughly as “I simply cannot see where there is to get to” begins. An open soundstage makes all the musical elements feel spread out. Discordant notes effectively create tension and a pervasive feeling of worry as they extend. The long tones go on and on, bending and distorting into the void around them, oppressive and shadowy.
The tension is now broken into by chitinous sounds that tap lightly in the background. Atonal notes add a sense of discomfort while the metallic noises shift. Tight, worried notes extend above the cavernous, murky background in a rush of horrified sound. There’s a sense of desolation as distant, pained notes reminiscent of a scratchy violin move into the seething sonic miasma before silence falls.
This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary is an ambient album that takes me on a journey when I listen to it. I find myself pulled into the world it creates and guided along. I hope Future Nightmares continues to expand the range and scope of ambient music.
© 2022 Karl Magi