Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.
The omnipresent feeling that I got while listening to Andrew Ambient & Dark Side of Synth’s album Dark Mirrors was that of an infinite black void over which ambient sounds, synths and snippets of piano float. The auditory sensations produced by the album are ones of desolation, emptiness and dread. It isn’t an album for cruising in the sun with the top down, but it is engaging and interesting in a completely different way.
One of the more effective parts of this EP is the sound design. The combination of ambient noises, electronic drones and disembodied piano opens up dark and strange landscapes of sound. I was especially taken with the feeling of huge spaces that was created here. However they did it, the producers managed to generate this feeling in an extremely effective fashion.
This is not a melodic recording. Dark Mirrors is, to me, purely about the kinds of images and impressions that it can generate. It plays on the ways in which the ambient portions of the music interact with the yawning void that they sit over top of and the snatches of piano that drift in and out only seem to emphasize the heavy miasma in which the album sits.
As this is an EP, I’ve decided to comment on all of the tracks. I also feel that in this instance, each track flows into the other and all of them fit together to deliver a complete package. One track can’t really be divorced from another. They make a rather solid whole.
The first track “Dark Mirrors” begins with slowly spreading waves across the spacious backdrop of this track as a wash of synth rises up, playing a single note as the background sounds oscillate behind it. All of the sonic elements keep swelling until they dominate with their bleak, empty feeling. Slightly warmer, more drifting synth sounds come into play but the plaintive drone continues in the background. This is an ambient soundscape that touches the edges of something vast and potentially horrifying, lurking just outside of it.
“Voices From a Dark Universe” starts with droning electronics and ambient noise from which a repetitive piano line emerges. The synths in this track do have a certain choral quality to them. There are shifting arpeggios being played on the piano and the sense of impossible voids of black space is maintained here. The track doesn’t generate fear, as much as it creates a sense of something creeping, growing and reaching out hungry tendrils towards us. It is a discomforting sensation being created here.
The track entitled “Ghosts in the Attic” gives the impression of sepulchral voices coming from throats that shouldn’t be able to produce sound any longer. The “voices” have that tomb-like quality to them. The “attic” in question must be one of Cyclopean proportions, because the sense of terrifyingly large amounts of black space is palpable here. Out of that darkness, the hungry ghosts seem to be whispering. A sense of delicate doom pervades the whole track.
“Ominous Halloween” is indeed a rather ominous track. Stabs of synth seem to echo out into emptiness before a brighter synth sound enters the fray. Once again, the entire track is engulfed by a yawning sense of space. A series of floating piano arpeggios eventually resolves into a gentle melody that flickers out over the void. The piano is tinged with melancholy sadness and hints of pain. The track grows as the piano dances over the heaviness underpinning it.
Atmospheric albums are always a bit of a challenge for me in terms of writing reviews. I am a person who craves melody, so the lack of it here made it a bit tough for me. However, I’ve concluded that what matters most with Dark Mirrors is the way it made me feel. I was definitely struck by the waves of darkness spreading out across dead space on this album. In terms of creating a sensation of eldritch things moving in the dark, I think that Andrew Ambient & Dark Side of Synth have succeded in creating a miniature horror movie for the ears.