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Ketil Søraker has been a key player in the dark ambient genre for the last 15 years. A prolific dark ambient artist, he is one of the most highly revered Nordic ambient musicians in the genre. Ketil Søraker has a particularly bleak outlook on the world, when it comes to his musical output it can be considered some of the most melancholic and lonely dark ambient in the genre. He has developed a signature sound with his use of guitars and vocals in his take on dark ambient, which gives it an extremely personal touch.

Ketil Søraker was one of the original members of Northaunt, the highly revered polar dark ambient act. In Northaunt, Ketil Søraker and Hærleif Langås constructed soundscapes which embodied the blistering cold and desperate isolation of the far north. Using spoken word, whispered singing, field recordings and any other instruments at their disposal, Northaunt developed a subtle and lonely sound which has resonated through the dark ambient community since its first release The Ominous Silence back in 2001. Yet, after the second Northaunt album, Barren Land, Ketil Søraker parted ways with Northaunt.

A few years of soul searching later, Ketil Søraker returned to the music scene, reinvigorated and prepared to once again leave his mark. Taphephobia was born of this need for a solo dark ambient project. The first album was House Of Memories in 2007, and it was the only effort by Taphephobia which didn't use guitars as the main source of instrumentation. The following albums Anomie and Black City Skyline on Reverse Alignment would solidify the signature sound of Taphephobia, with their heavy use of guitar drone as a basis. Also Ketil Søraker continued to incorporate vocals into the project, similar to the first two Northaunt albums.

As Taphephobia continued taking shape and releasing more albums over the coming years it is becoming increasingly clear that Ketil Søraker has no intentions of leaving the dark ambient genre without his mark on it. Taphephobia now has 6 full length releases through various labels. The most recent release Escape From The Mundane Self, was arguably the greatest accomplishment yet by Ketil Søraker. Having secured a position in the roster of Cyclic Law, who also houses Northaunt, Taphephobia utilized the help of fellow label mate Dehn Sora to craft a magnificent cover art and digipak. Escape From The Mundane Self took everything that made Taphephobia enticing and stepped it up a notch, adding to that the contribution of Dehn Sora as well as the mastering skills of Frederic Arbour, and Ketil Søraker may be looking at his magnum opus.

Ketil Søraker has left himself little idle time in the last decade. Between the releases of these six full length albums, he has been included in multiple splits, compilations and side projects. In 2007, the same year of his debut as Taphephobia, he also released the only full length to date by his side-project Aural Whiteout. Aural Whiteout takes Ketil Søraker into even darker and more claustrophobic space with its black ambient roots. About Aural Whiteout, Ketil told me: "I started this project because I wanted a bit more raw sound. I`ve only recorded one album, back in 2007, released by Rape Art Production." After its full length debut, Aural Whiteout can be heard on many compilations over the last decade. For another project in 2012, Ketil Søraker collaborated with former band-mate Hærleif Langås of Northaunt, as well as Avsky, another Norwegian dark ambient act, to create The End Of Greatness, a dreamy yet bleak release on Cyclic Law under their collaborative name, Mulm.

Now in 2016, we have already seen Ketil Søraker contribute to several compilations as Taphephobia as well as Aural Whiteout. We were even lucky enough, at Terra Relicta, to have one of these tracks contributed to our first compilation: Terra Relicta Presents: Vol. I Dark Ambient. His Taphephobia track "Half The Man" is being exclusively streamed below.

We can also start biding our time until the imminent release of his next full length Taphephobia album this autumn, again through Cyclic Law. Speaking briefly about the new album, Ketil told me, "The process of recording this album was hard at times, as I broke my right femur in the middle of the recording process, which was a huge inspiration and catharsis. It took me like 3 months to be able to walk again. [This happened] back in March 2014, the new album was recorded between November 2012 to March 2015, so some of the material I already started on before finishing Escape From The Mundane Self."

Check out the latest track "Half The Man" by Taphephobia below, and if you aren't already familiar with the works of Ketil Søraker take some time to look into all these magnificent projects that he has participated in throughout his musical career. Pull a comfortable chair up to the hearth, pour a strong drink, and let yourself be consumed in the darkness that is Taphephobia. Link.
Written by: Michael Barnett
Photography by: Jan Roger Petterson and Anahid Arman

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