There are benchmarks against which any tribal/ethno-ambient album will inevitably be judged. You know the names, you know the common sounds and tones. Here’s the didge, here are the drums, here are the shakers and chants. There’s no need to go into the comparisons. The standard for this kind of work should instead be, “How far down into my primal/ritual self does this album take me?” For me, the answer with Blood Moon is: pretty far. Frore (aka Paul Casper) and Shane Morris do a great job of balancing off the things you’ve come to expect in a tribal release with deep ambient atmospherics, giving us a blend of ritualistic rhythmics and check-your-breathing meditative patches. Where this album really shows it strength is in the attention to minute details, the small sounds that create dimension, texture and inner vision. It’s that aspect that creates the strongest sense of immersion. Several points firmly catch my attention and cut through my usual tribal-loving rapture. “Orison” goes deep with a humming drone wavering its way across a mix of ambient washes and a slowly rising batch of drums. Just before the 4-minute mark, flute drops in to turn it into a slow and sensual dance. Balance again is key here, with everything kept at about the same level, which succeeds in throwing a kind of incense-haze veil around the music. Just slightly distant but very effective, it has a dreamy quality to it. Excellent didge work highlights “Unfolding.” Churning up perhaps the strongest of the influential references, it’s a deep flow with big ambient pads and the cool twang of a stringed instrument I can’t identify—but I know I love it sound and texture. “Night Rapture” is 16 minutes of curling-smoke washes, hypnotic percussion, and pure atmosphere. Breathy flute pushes through like a phantom wind to nudge your mind out of its reverie. This piece retains an edge of darkness and the repetitive churn of ritual as it draws you in. You could just loop this track for a while and your primal self would thank you.
Blood Moon is a strong addition to the overall tribal and ethno-ambient canon. It will slot in alongside your personal favorites. Capser and Morris have very good chemistry; they are strong tribalists on their own, and this joining of their powers results in a rock-solid release sure to please tribal fans.
Available from Spotted Peccary.