Dieter Müh / Mnem – Atomyriades
01/01/2009 § Leave a comment
Artist: Dieter Müh
Label: Cipher Productions
Genre: Dark Ambient / Drone
01 Galan Taetri
03 Voljan Nal
04 Mundi Salvatorr
05 Kohota Babel
06 Nine Many
07 Marazion Sand
08 The Return Line
Shinya Tsukamoto’s Haze is a fifty-minute psychological horror film set, presumably, somewhere in Tokyo. In it, a man awakens to find himself trapped in an enclosed concrete maze with no knowledge of how he came to be there. Over the course of the film he tries various routes and methods of escape but after each turn and corner, another section opens out which he must complete and break out from. There is little light and he is enveloped by shadows, harangued by physical pain and fear, whilst nursing a creeping dread that something is overseeing his every move. Tsukamoto is an unwilling guinea pig in an exploitative experiment. He is like a caver who finds himself trapped in the narrowest of squeezes, whose hopes are continually dashed when each new passage brings harder challenges rather than offering freedom and salvation.
Atomyriades is a fifty-minute dark ambient journey through similarly suffocating passageways. David Uden from Birmingham’s Dieter Müh uses the time to manipulate sound samples created by Finland’s Mnem and give the impression of a reluctant and unpleasant journey through dark, claustrophobia-inducing corridors. We can sense and hear peculiar things behind us, in front of us and on the other side of walls. Sometimes the spaces we are in are tight, echoing environments, while other times they are wider expanses, with machines humming and operators tuning unsaid mechanisms somewhere in a corner. Each track has an individuality and leads seamlessly on to the next. This isn’t some middle of the road dark ambient effort: a lot of concentration has gone into each minute. And at no moment do we feel that the artist has abandoned us within its confines.
“Galan Taetri” – Immediately we get the impression of being in motion. This is the most active point of the record and there’s a sense of wheels turning, of moving forward on some kind of carriage or belt. The air rushes past us as we’re taken somewhere unknown. The atmosphere is dark, unwelcoming and uncertain. And then, silence. We come to the end of our journey, dropped into a mysterious space. We hear subtle drones in the background, around us, underneath us. There are sounds of metal scraping on metal: something or someone is at work here. It feels as if we’re part of an experiment that only we don’t hold the knowledge of.
“Sadjaw” – Air wafts past us and the drones continue, rising and falling. We soak in the atmosphere and gather ourselves. Somewhere steam escapes from valves; water bubbles and unidentifiable distant sounds confound us. We’re getting acclimatised to the new environment, which is unfriendly and bewildering.
“Voljan Nal” – The Latin ‘volens’ relates to an acceptance or allowance of risk. However, in this case our situation is forced upon us, so most probably the title relates to a refusal or unwillingness to be party to it. We are now totally alone and the atmosphere is denser. Somewhere nearby a machine chatters and manically crunches data, maybe monitoring us. When the sound abruptly stops, there is nothing but the background hum of industry. A few chimes in the distance give hope of something harmonious, of grace in a hostile environment, and as the machine chatters once more we come to a place where cogs turn, pistons pump and chains rattle all around us. We are nearing the heart of the complex.
“Mundi Salvatorr” – We escape to a less active part of our surroundings to gather ourselves. Drones in the distance and clashes of steel against steel wash over us. Occasional klaxons make us unsure of whether our absence has gone unnoticed. Air rushes round rusty vents, and behemoths boom at the end of tunnels. After a while it becomes clear we are indeed isolated, alone, undiscovered.
“Kohota Babel” – The passageways hemming us in narrow still. There is only the sound of thick breathing against metallic plates. Somewhere, rusted wheels turn just on the other side of the metallic partitions as we make our way through. Probes scrape along the outside of the vents and in the distance of our minds, angelic chords give us hope of something uplifting and promising beyond. The breathing stops and things become calmer. For now, anyway.
“Nine Many” – this is one of the most intriguing parts of the album. Now we become aware of a very slow, deep pulse. It could be our own or of something below. Relationships between us and the machines become confused as we connect ourselves with them and misplace our identity. The pulses are very slow, with exactly ten per minute and fifty overall in the track. We become as transfixed by them as the spaces between them, waiting for each pulse but also examining their absence, what they mask. And then, without apparent warning, they cease and we are drenched in the echo of what was beyond them, the receding sound of whirring machinery. We seem to have left the abominations behind us.
“Marazion Sand” – As the title suggests we could be somewhere outside, maybe the open shores of Southern England. We hear the rush of the wind. Bubbling synth melodies charm us and there is an ambient feeling of escape, hope and achievement. This is the least dark and most freeing moment of our experiences so far. Suddenly everything is shattered by the ugly grinding of machinery. There is a feeling of being pulled towards and into something ruthless and destructive. Any solace and relief was a fleeting illusion.
“The Return Line” – The most repetitive section of the album. Our field of listening is filled with the recurring punch and buzz of some unseeable probe whilst computers relentlessly turn over data in the background. The subjection to the experimentation is complete. As the energy fades and we slip into unconsciousness, the sound of oceanic waves washes over us. It’s impossible to tell whether we indeed escaped or if we are now imprisoned forever inside our own subconscious.
It’s so difficult for dark ambient works to hold their own personality but this is exactly what Atomyriades succeeds in. The samples from Mnem and the vision of Dieter Müh combine as perfectly as their ingredients to produce one of the finest dark ambient offerings this year. Atomyriades – the title presumably a nod to the grand repeating patterns of the universe – is an album full of character and depth and it’s clear that a lot of time and work has gone into its creation. With only 500 copies pressed it’s well worth getting hold of, especially if your standards in this area are high.