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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

6,5/10

Given his fast-developing activity with his own brainchild Forgotten Backyard, Dennis’ prolificacy might seem at odds with the patient and subtly unfurling Ambient sounds he creates. This one-man project first hit EMW’s radar less than three months ago with the still-warm debut album Cerulean Wasteland, released for free download through French netlabel Ambientaria Records: albeit not perfect and wholly accomplished, its fleeing, disquieting sub-drones were capable of gliding effortlessly through the listener’s mind, depicting agoraphobic sceneries of an exhausted, desolated Earth drained away of vital energies. Next, he issued this follow-up Ep, entitled De Poussière Rouge, on which Dennis seemed to take a few steps away from the menacing, industrialized foundations upon which Forgotten Backyard had been erected, taking a careful and well positioned steps towards lighter, less oppressive territories.

The main feature all Forgotten Backyard music has in common is kept on this Ep, weaving a thin silver thread between De Poussière Rouge and its predecessor – and it consists in the whispery, perpetual morphing of the sounds, with hints of ungraspable harmony emerging and retreating in slow, hallucinated cycles. But the deep, belly-rumbling drones that enerved the debut and its post-atomic, weighty atmosphere have been supplanted by a more ethereal, naturalistic – but also more ‘background-oriented’ and less ‘imaginative’ – take on FB’s established Dark Ambient style, much as the natural prosecution of Cerulean Wasteland was the narration of the new life sprouting from the ruins of the eradicated civilization.

De Poussière Rouge is comprised of four tracks, clocking in at thirty-nine minutes (although an exclusive ghost-track is to be downloaded on the band’s ReverbNation page), and, as all the other releases by Ambientaria, is available for free directly from the label’s website. It’s the title track opening the Ep with its haunting, dizzying course carrying a stream of hard-to-define feelings, while L’Aube seems to venture even deeper into the comely and suspended turn taken by the music. Soleil de Minuit feels like a spiritic elemental manifestation, with its crackling of flames mouthed by eerie humming and echoing with thunderous, far off clangs. The conclusive track is but the video version of L’Aube, which means that the listener only gets three ‘real’ songs on this Ep.

De Poussière Rouge is rather unlikely to be the crowning achievement of Forgotten Backyard, as Dennis’ project will surely be awarded plenty of opportunities to continue progressing in the future; plus, it has a slight interlocutory flavour and does not possess the powerful evocative charge of Cerulean Wasteland. Nevertheless, this is a nice way to whet the appetite of Dark Ambient fans for further immersions into Forgotten Backyard’s soundscapes until Dennis unveils the project’s next evolutionary step, and it goes without saying that the fact that it can be downloaded for free represents a valid reason to recommend this Ep.

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7/10

Onward from the fluid, opalescent shamanic textures of Halgrath, netlabel Ambientaria Records continues to present us with eerie, abstract soundscapes with the second album, released one month after Halgrath’s Liquid Mind. This time around, it’s Forgotten Backyard’s turn, a project of unspecified nationality – although La Nuit Éternelle, the title of the debut it has already thrust upon the masses, arises the suspicion of a French provenance. Forgotten Backyard was created in January, 2010, by the only member Dennis, who enounciates a sombre dualism between paranoid nightmares and mechanized post-apocalyptic reality as the focal point of his vision.

Cerulean Wasteland is a paradox – sounds that communicate visually. Rather than Dennis’ own description of intents, the title itself is enough self-explanatory about the music, right down to the anaemic and bleak cover art and estranging feeling of this seven-tracks opus. In fact, I reckon the improper employ of the very term ‘music’, since there’s little to none music to be found on this record, at least not according to the average standards. Cerulean Wasteland is built entirely out of subliminal layers of slow-attack sub-drones, cycling in wide movements to carry an agoraphobic sense of desolation, crossed by haunting industrial noises crashing in and out with great effect. However, its unobtrusive minimalism doesn’t necessarily make Cerulean Wasteland the average background-album to have in the background while doing something else, a function that is often associated with Ambient, and if the tracks shoot by in a huge blur it’s only because they’re not paid with the necessary attention, that allows their disturbing soundscapes to soak into the brain, and make you zone out to a deserted, uninhabited planet earth where you’re the last survivor among the ruins of eradicated civilization. The fact that any option of accessible melody has been discarded on this release (Black Blood and Oil is probably the only track on offer that incorporates a resemblance of melody that doesn’t linger for long), might be deterring to a large number of less intrepid potential listeners, but those selected few with a fervid imagination and a predisposition for this genre would most likely agree with what has just been said.

The minus of Cerulean Wasteland consists in the fact that – at least for me – once its effect is exhausted, the album loosens its grip, in that it starts to drag somewhat midpoint and fails to capture with the same intensity as during the first tracks. Apart from this, a very visionary experience, although not meant for everybody. Whether you’re willing to step into Forgotten Backyard’s nightmarish wastelands, the choice is up to you.

Source: Elitarian Music Webzine

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3.5/5

Main thoughts: Haunting, yet at the same time enchanting.

The first release ever to come from the rather young netlabel Ambientaria Records is a one-man, or rather: woman project based in Russia. Halgrath is the spirit child of Agratha who aims to entrance her listeners with her dark, spiritually loaded musical universe.

I have had this album lingering on my PC for a while, but never properly gotten around to listening to it, until now because I felt I needed to take proper time to dive into Halgrath’s music. Liquid Mind pulls you into its world straight away with the first song, Shaaman’s Prarie. The vocals are eerie, and the melody is enchanting, but haunting at the same time and proves to be a great argument for the album title’s choice: the music flows so subtly that it feels like it is liquid. The same thing can be said for Agratha’s vocals, whether she whispers, sings or sighs; the vocals become a part of the wave that is Liquid Mind.

Her winter of loneliness is one of the most intriguing songs as its sound takes the ‘liquid’ part quite seriously.. it sounds as if water is dripping from icicles, and the very persisting whispered vocals and laughter are equally ice cold. My personal favourite is Deep Underwater Darkest Tale, a journey to the enticing depths of the world which is brought beautifully, mainly thanks to Agratha’s hypnotising singing.

All in all, Liquid Mind is an intriguing album, and definitely not an easy listening experience, but it grows on you and is definitely worth the effort! A promising debut album by a very talented artist. You can download it for free on this page at Ambientaria Records’ website.

Source: Folklore Forlorn

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Founded in January of 2010, Forgotten Backyard is the very much recent dark ambient project of Dennis, last name and whereabouts unknown – as well as his previous history as a musical artist. A clean slate then, very much in line with what he attempts to convey to the listener with this release. A bleakly desolate, industrialized and mechanized wasteland where all hope has been abandoned and machines are the only ones left to speak. Being a completely instrumental recording, the expressed goal of Cerulean Wasteland is to forge a unique atmosphere of darkness, emptiness and paranoia. Sometimes this is achieved, yet at other times I find myself wanting relief from the one-dimensionality of the music. I guess that when attempting to make music of true emptiness and desolation it is an unavoidable by-product that the result oft-times becomes empty and desolate in and of itself.

Nevertheless, I could not help wanting to hear more contrast and depth to the recording as a whole – and perhaps even a more claustrophobic and threatening atmosphere to reflect the lofty goals expressed. That said, ambient recordings are not usually my cup of tea either as “Unknown Rain Ritual” is for me the track that counterpoints the rest of the release. It is a finely crafted soundscape of rain pouring down with the more or less incessant pulsing of what sounds like a delapitated engine as well as intermittent recordings of slamming metal. Then it too dwindles into nothingness. Well done! The moody final track “White Mirrors Behind the Dark Clouds” really does the release justice as well.

All in all, I had a hard time placing this record and I do have a sneaking suspicion that it requires the correct mind-set to appreciate it as it is meant to be heard. No doubt avid fans of the genre will find it an interesting and fulfilling release, but for me it was a mixed experience. Other than this I noticed a few telltale software-generated effect glitches during the recording, which – intentional or not – only serve to distract me from the music and the intent behind it.

Source: Kaliglimmer

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7,5/10

First release for Ambientaria Records, a fairly new netlabel entirely dedicated to delve deep into the abysses of Dark Ambient soundscapes. Established in 2006, Halgrath is a Russian project that came highly recommended to me when I was contacted by Ambientaria Records’ owner about a month ago, but, as much as I usually try to be as fast as possible in the dispatch of my ‘to-review’ pile, I decided to do this album justice and to allow myself some time to grow into Agratha (yes, this is a one-woman project)’s  intimidating and demanding aural hypnotism.

Now, after so much time, I am glad I’ve been waiting for the right moment to experience this album. Agratha’s avowed aim is to disclose the spirituality of the Universe to the listener, by channelling its energies onto a sonic language that speaks directly to our soul’s infinite search of awareness. Her aim is accomplished over Liquid Mind’s fluid and austere one hour expanse of dark, resonating Ambient mysticism that proceeds towards the very core of one’s soul eluding all the empirically conditioned vestiges. Agratha’s voice surfaces from the ethereal layers of the sound with impassioned spoken lines, haunting whispers and laments, and dramatic, nearly operatic trillings, at times diluted in the menacing echoes of a masculine counterpart, thus almost evoking a wonderful archetypical representation of cosmic duality. Needless to say, the ten songs on Liquid Mind are meant to be experienced all at the same time, possibly in a congruous frame of mind, and would surely fail their aim should they be heard out of sequence.

There’s no doubt that such a release might not appeal to everyone, but for those who are deeply connected with what is described as the purpose of this album, I’d almost say that the listening is mandatory. Liquid Mind can be downloaded for free from Ambientaria Records’ site [ http://ambientariarecords.wordpress.com ]. As for me, I hope there’s a second act being planned for this intriguing female solo artist. Not the easiest of listens, but for sure an extremely rewarding one.

Source: Elitarian Music Webzine

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