False Mirror, Derelict World

I may not be able to adequately articulate why False Mirror’s Derelict World has the profound effect on me that it does, nor may I be able to tell you why this dark ambient piece works for me when so many others of similar bent simply don’t. But here goes: Derelict World is a visceral, soul-penetrating bit of sound design woven through with long, mournful drones that wander through Tobias Hornberger’s thoroughly realized, barren and flood-ravaged landscapes like lost ghosts. Atmosphere is clearly of the utmost importance to Hornberger; it dominates the sound, from the watery burble running under “Afterrmath” to the slow, tortured creak of a ship’s boards on “The Sea of Oblivion.” Further insight comes from reading the disc’s liner notes where Hornberger discusses much of the sound sources, from whispers recorded at a monastery to the creak of a barn door to–quite serious here–the artist eating gelatin. His superb drone work almost seems to exist solely to support the imagery and to amplify the impact of the artist’s vision.

The upshot of all this is that Derelict World is a full, engaging and thoroughly unsettling listening experience. It’s not forcefully isolationist, although there is the sense of being very alone. It’s not ponderously heavy, although the emotional weight of the work is unrelenting. Most importantly, it’s not just an endless barrage of thick, distorted noise. It is well-managed, skillfully guided and perfectly paced, a concept brought to full, grim life. Derelict World is beautifully packaged and presented. The cover art is amazing, and the interior booklet offers a short story by Bjørn Springorum, based on the music. This is a must-listen for dark ambient fans, and those unaccustomed to the dark need to dare themselves to visit Derelict World as well.

Available from Malignant Records.

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