Published on Tuesday, 20 December 2016 18:00
Album title: The Hermit
Release date: 22 Novemeber 2016
Label: Cryo Chamber
01. Apokatástasis I
02. March Of The Priests
03. Journey To The Celestial Rivers
04. Apokatástasis II
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