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Ugasanie - Eye Of Tunguska (2015) - Review

Band: Ugasanie
Album title: Eye Of Tunguska
Release date: 22 September 2015
Label: Cryo Chamber

01. Swamps Of Tunguska
02. The Taiga
03. Epicenter
04. Lonely Winter Hut
05. The Phenomenon
06. Through The Woods
07. Last Night
08. Abandoned Base
09. Attempt To Contact
10. The Bodies Under The Snow

Ugasanie is becoming quite a big player in the dark ambient scene over the past few years. He has been producing material non-stop for various labels around the world, never seeming to want a break. Furthermore it appears, from what I gather that he captures many of these bleak and desolate sounds from the northern areas of Europe and Russia that he visits. Ugasanie has followed the concept album approach throughout his albums. This is one of the things that drew me to him in the first place several years ago, and keeps me eagerly awaiting each release. 

On White Silence we heard a version of Ugasanie, who seemed to be just starting to test the waters of more subtle dark ambient sounds, as opposed to his previous work which showed a more dynamic and in your face approach. Call Of The North showed great progression over the first album in the ability to use these newly honed subtle droning frozen atmospheres to paint a vivid picture for the listener of a frozen wilderness, where one man reaches the breaking point and takes the final plunge into the frozen night never to return. There have also been some other notable releases by Ugasanie through his own Bandcamp profile and through some other European labels.

Eye Of Tunguska is certainly Ugasanie’s most refined album to date. The drones, synths and field recordings of nature as well as other unearthly sounds, all flow together perfectly. Eye Of Tunguska is quite complex without ever feeling cluttered or noisy. 

We are told that Ugasanie was inspired to write this album by “A strange incident (which) took place in the 1990s in late autumn in the taiga. Not far from the epicenter of the Tunguska meteorite impact site. A group of students went hiking to see this legendary site. They lost their way after they decided to spend the night in one of the winter huts built by hunters of the land. Their mutilated bodies were later found near an old abandoned geological base with radiation burns.” I listened to this album several times before reading the description and will have to say, I seemed to follow the plot rather well without knowing the story first.

“Swamps Of Tunguska” gives us a bit of feel for the setting, with a thick chilling atmosphere. “The Taiga” continues this theme, taking us deeper into the cold, feeling as if we are entering a deep icy ravine, carved out over many generations by nature’s brutal forces. Toward the end of the track we are given the first taste of this sci-fi or otherworldly presence as the sounds become more eerie and suspenseful with a great combination of spacey and earthy tonality and samples.  “Epicenter” is foreboding and sticks to the theme of the album, giving us a further sense of unrest and slowly unfolding the alien and mechanical noises that progressively take over your senses. Presumably the group has had their first taste of the supernatural at this point. “Lonely Winter Hut” picks up in a warmer sheltered atmosphere. We are still surrounded by the storm, but now inside the hut we feel distanced from it. There is a hint of hope and imagination that seems to quickly move through the group before returning to feelings of uncertainty and fear. “The Phenomenon” is to me, like a scene from a David Lynch film. This is where the action really begins to happen. The album takes a turn for the worse when our group finds itself in the middle of what appears to be abduction, immediately followed by an atmosphere that is certainly not natural or earthly. We hear the roars of machinery that we can’t comprehend. But we are in a secure place, no matter how foreign, almost as if we have been put into a state of euphoria. “Through The Woods” picks up where the survivors of this encounter find themselves, wandering aimlessly and confused through the cold dark woods. All the while an unearthly drone follows, as if a reverberation from their recent experience still playing out in the mind. “Last Night” is a melancholic track, full of ambience; this is Ugasanie’s more usual style at its finest. Cold blustery winds and the sounds of lonely northern wildlife are all that we have. A melancholic and equally chilling synth rolls in, leaving us feeling dreary and spent, as the group must have felt. The following morning our group finds themselves at “The Abandoned Base” a decrepit ruin, filled with the sounds of rodents, creaky pipes, and drippy reverberating industrial ruins. Yet out of this desolation a subtle and celestial drone begins to enter as if our group is entering some place a bit safer. However, that glimmer of hope quickly fades and our group falls silent as an eerie mechanical droning noise enters the track before we are quickly returned to only the sounds of wind and a melancholic drone. Our group is gone. “Attempt To Contact” is a highly cinematic track making this seem like the ending of a horror film. We are greeted by the rescue squad, presumably, who frantically chat back and forth on radio communication as this track becomes even bleaker, darker, fading into only wind. “The Bodies Under The Snow” finishes the album out with a windy drone, leaving an occasional alien sensation. This becomes progressively more horrific and melancholic as the rescuers presumably find the remains of the ill-fated group of student hikers.

Ugasanie paints a vivid picture here of the darkness and pure terror felt by these hikers as they experienced a potential alien or government abduction and their ensuing deaths. Ugasanie always amazes with his use of atmosphere coupled with a compelling plot. Eye Of Tunguska brings more of what we love of Ugasanie in a quite different manner than previous albums. While the sounds may be more subtle, the overarching story appears to better plotted than ever. Eye Of Tunguska is highly recommended for those who love dark ambient with sci-fi and/or polar isolation elements, not to mention a bit of horror-scape.

Review written by: Michael
Rating: 8,5/10