Published on Saturday, 24 September 2016 00:28
Album title: A Kanális Alatt
Release date: 1 September 2016
Label: City Forest Records
01. Lépj Be
02. Knowing The Tunnels
03. A Kanális Alatt
06. Keserű Átok
07. Inverse Beauty
08. Át és Vissz
The new album, A Kanális Alatt by -SCH- is a teleportation device back in time, or thematically, into the future. With their first release on City Forest Records, -SCH- reminds us of the early days of dark ambient. A Kanális Alatt takes on many of the elements that built up the genre in the late '90s and early '00s. To me, this album would have been a perfect fit on the Cold Meat Industry label, back in its heyday. Throughout A Kanális Alatt we are given a wide variety of musical styles and instrumentation. Crisp and beautiful piano arrangements collide with deep rumbling drones. Mechanical noises pepper an otherwise hollow sounding void. Serene vocals meet with celestial synth lines. There is a lot here to keep fans occupied, and a lot of reasons to come back for a second and third helping of this experience.
-SCH- kicks the album into gear with "Lépj Be", a very industrial ambient sounding track, which starts off with an astral sort of feel but then jumps right into a devastating metallic drum beat. "Knowing The Tunnels" features some distorted vocals over a brooding ambience that reminds me of something similar to New Risen Throne vocals. The track takes on a slightly haunting, yet dreamy feel with its piano section. As the track progresses sounds of some futuristic machinery take over the mix. All the while a deep hollow drone fills the void. "A Kanális Alatt" features thick pulsating drones and seems to be ripe with field recordings from some abandoned factory, which has been reanimated by an otherworldly aura. "Canorus" takes us to a much lighter and gentler place, a respite after the previously high intensity. The track features a dreamy synth line, something that sounds like heavily treated celestial vocals which take on a droning presence. Yet, throughout this calmer track, there is still the sense of pure darkness just beneath the surface. On "CC13" we are presented with that same sort of astral drone which is heavily prominent through the album. The track is rich in detail, strange sounds and phenomena command the senses. Some distorted voice creeps in and out of the mix, leaving its unintelligible presence for the listener to demystify. These almost demonic voices seem to be conjured from the black void, and as the track progresses we fall into a deeper and darker place, where the electronic noises almost mimic some great astral god. "Keserű Átok" is grounded in a hollow airy sounding drone. A Geiger counter can possibly be heard in the background, alluding to some apocalyptic disaster. Industrial drum beats blast through the wall of sound, demanding attention, before turning into a full force industrial dark ambient onslaught of sound. The synths add a sense of mystery and human involvement, but that recurring astral process never seems to fade. "Inverse Beauty" delivers a droning darkness that pulses, shaking the Earth. The indistinct vocal lines resurface here, reminding us of the bleak situation humanity seems to have found itself in. Then the bottom drops out and bassy synths take the lead, with field recordings returning to that abandoned factory type setting.
The astral presence throughout the album, at this point, leads me to believe that all the industrial and abandoned factory type sounds seem to be emanating from a space station which has undergone some terrible devastation. The voices that haunt us throughout the album could even be the ghosts of the lost crew. On these last two tracks the piano, even in its minimal usage, seems to be the key element directing our emotions. As the album reaches its close, we are left to quietly ponder this journey.
-SCH- has used many elements here that have been hallmarks of the dark ambient genre throughout the last 30 years. But, he approaches it with a style that is uniquely his own. This seems to be an early crowing achievement from a musician who shows plenty of potential for future endeavors. All the variations within the album give us a sense of the breadth of influences and talents of -SCH-. I would recommend A Kanális Alatt to fans of the older Cold Meat Industry and Loki Foundation type sounds. This album should also be a welcome addition to the collections of fans of an active form of space ambient, a sub-genre which often finds itself falling into repetition and subtle drone work, but comes fully to life on this project. I think we can safely expect to hear more great things from -SCH- in the future.
Review by: Michael