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Enmarta - The Hermit (2016) - Review

Band: Enmarta
Album title: The Hermit
Release date: 22 Novemeber 2016
Label: Cryo Chamber

Tracklist:
01. Apokatástasis I
02. March Of The Priests
03. Journey To The Celestial Rivers
04. Apokatástasis II
05. Passing
06. The Hermit
07. Temple Of Abandon

Enmarta released their debut album, Sea Of Black, on Cryo Chamber last year. This album sent ripples through the dark ambient community. With their masterful use of classical instrumentation, primarily viola, Enmarta presented something with enough technical expertise to turn heads even outside the dark ambient community. Now Enmarta is back with their sophmore album, The Hermit.

Enmarta, as previously alluded to, is a classically trained musician who has toured with Reggio Calabria Philharmonic Orchestra as a viola performer. So with Enmarta, we get a unique take on dark ambient. Through the eyes and ears of a classically trained musician, music always seems to take on a different form. There tends to be more deliberate planning of certain movements within a track or the album as a whole. Being able to fully appreciate and manipulate tonal variations and to envision a track from top to bottom before ever pressing record; these things can make all the difference. Yet, there is often a downside to classically-trained artists, in my opinion. Studying the full breadth of historical works, learning how and why an instrument, or even a scale, does what it does, these things can lead to very mechanical and easily-anticipated sound structures. Luckily for us dark ambient fans, Enmarta has not fallen for these trappings.

The concept of the album is focused on a religious man, who has found himself in isolation. The album begins with "Apokatástasis I". ἀποκατάστασις, in its original ancient Greek transliteration, means something like: restoration to the primordial condition. Within this context, we seem to be following this hermit through his reawakening, as he becomes one with the gods and the land itself.

Sea Of Black showed a lot of promise for this young musician. Yet, The Hermit brings the intensity to a whole new level. We are presented with a nice variation of instruments and sounds throughout the album. For instance, on "Apokatástasis II" the track starts off with some distant percussion that sounds more like the beginning of a dungeon synth track than dark ambient. Yet, where many dungeon synth artists will fall flat with wildly mixed percussion, Enmarta, possibly due to the mastering skills of label-head Simon Heath, delivers a brilliant mix. The percussion seems to keep that gritty vibe without sounding like it was produced on a toy keyboard. Add to this, layers of field recordings and subtle drone and the final result is next to perfection. Not just with the drums, but again when listening to the viola, we hear a mix that was deliberate and painstakingly detailed. For instance, "Journey To The Celestial Rivers", one of the most peaceful and brilliant tracks on the album, meanders on for the first two and a half minutes with some gentle rain and celestial synths before the viola cuts through the mix like a knife. Using the viola as a contrast to the subdued sounds of the field recordings and synths, Enmarta is able to build very noticeable shifts in setting and emotion, in a fashion that seems effortlessly second-nature to him.

As a whole, we have in The Hermit, a brilliant follow-up to Sea Of Black. As Enmarta continues honing his classical as well as dark ambient skills, it seems only reasonable that there will be even more brilliant albums ahead in the coming years. The Hermit is one of those albums, which shouldn't be offensive to anyone. Where some dark ambient albums can be a bit noisy at times, The Hermit keeps its cool and composure throughout. With that said, I would absolutely recommend The Hermit to any lover of relaxing dark ambient, classical, or new age music. They will certainly have a dark and somber path ahead of them, but it will be well worth the journey.

Written by: Michael
Rating: 8.5/10

Recommended by Terra Relicta

Band: Kammarheit
Album title: Unearthed: 2000-2002 (75th Cycle)
Release date: 27 March 2015
Label: Cyclic Law

In 2015, Kammarheit is synonymous with dark ambient. But back in 2000-2002 Par Bostrom was just beginning to test the waters of this under-the-radar genre. The birth of his project Kammarheit seems like it must have been a true awakening of the senses for Bostrom. After a field-recording session at an abandoned factory he immediately produced his first album Shockwork that very night. What followed was a torrent of albums, six in total, over the two year span from 2000-2002. Yet these albums were not intended for public consumption. A testament to how deeply personal Kammarheit is to Par Bostrom, he produced these albums as a means to help overcome his insomnia. They were only shared with a handful of friends and family at the time. This is an amazing addition to Kammarheit's officially released discography, and a reminder that Par Bostrom was a natural from the beginning and in it for the long haul.

Read a full review HERE