Parhelion, Midnight Sun

The beginning to this standard-issue dark ambient disc is so abrupt and graceless that I nearly stopped listening after just a few seconds. I approach dark ambient with a bit of trepidation to begin with; showing a lack of subtlety doesn’t help. I sat through the predictable first track, a ceaseless wad of dense synthesizer wind in a thick dose of layers, and hoped that Parhelion (aka Ihor Dawidiuk) could redeem himself. Well, Midnight Sun eventually becomes a decent dark piece, if nothing mold-breaking. When Dawidiuk opts to let a thin stream of melodic intent through, the disc becomes more interesting. He shows a real sense of restraint and pacing at these times, a willingness to temper the expected grind-and-clash of the genre with real emotion. The title track, “Lament for Whales” and “Meditation Over Open Waters” benefit from it, and they’re the best stretches on the disc. The last two tracks, “Forgotten Outpost” and “Solitude” also pack a less serrated edge (for the most part), and are the better for it. “Outpost,” which also appeared on a Phantom Channel compilation, takes the greatest degree of departure from the rest of the disc, almost to the point of not quite fitting in. Before diving toward the end into noise, it’s quite light in tone. And “Solitude,” perhaps unsurprisingly, winds down to a very calm end. (And the end of the disc as well.) Dawidiuk’s intent, he says in the liner notes, is to present the duality of arctic landscapes, pairing harshness and beauty. In that regard, Midnight Sun hits the mark, and the disc does have passages that take hold of me. So did he redeem himself from that first note? Considering that I’d go back to listen again and deeper, yes. Dark ambient fans, or at least those who don’t need it to be ultra-heavy, should give Midnight Sun a listen.

Available from Cyclic Law.

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