04/12/2011 § Leave a comment
“Everyone into dark ambient should be already familiar with the Seetyca project” states the rubric. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that Seetyca hadn’t crossed my path until now, but given the extreme amount of this man’s output it’s difficult to believe he was missed at all. Seetyca has been releasing dark ambient records since 2002 and has amassed over fifty as this project alone, not to mention his work in Origami Malebariska, Circle Of Pines and Mœdra. Such high productivity places him way up in the rankings along with artists like Senmuth, and Bleakscapes is one of seven releases his main project has contributed to this year. With such experience you’d be right in considering this album to be a master of its cause, and it is indeed very much that. But Bleaskscapes is an understated, subtle work in the extreme. This is not dark ambient meant to shock, stun or even unsettle, but purely to localise you in a specifically dour environment. It’s the sound of placement, of sentience and of being. It is very much its namesake.
The artwork is slightly clichéd but inoffensive in its execution, featuring an obsidian landscape, shrouded in a chokingly opaque mist. Essentia Mundi have granted only a four page booklet here but hardly more than that is needed. Everything about this release is marginal and stripped down, most of all the music, but inside its moaning air of desolation sits a grander turmoil. Taking the baton from Lustmord’s Heresy, Bleakscapes drops us into a world of hopelessness, desolation and ruin. The seven tracks depict empty locations in which we find ourselves wondering dispiritedly, drifting from one part of non-existence to the next, trapped in an ever-blackening realm of abandonment. Composed in the Winter of 2010, Seetyca has let the essence of the colder climate effect this compostional style, and as a result the album has a bitter, ice-shrill spirit running through it.
If it sounds a little hackneyed, that’s because it is. How many more releases do we need in which we, as listeners, end up in yet another dark realm, kicking about while mists swirl around us and ghostly voices moan in the background underlined by droning hums. It’s overly familiar territory in both senses of the word, but Bleakscapes is a little more organic than we’re used to, using bells, flutes and the Oregan Origo String Quartet to give the music more consciousness. Most of these are put to minimal but effective use, employed sparingly and very much woven into the background. It’s by this force that Seetyca punctuates the ambience, albeit occasionally, along with the low chimes of ritualistic bells, string samples, and voices moaning in torment in the far distance. The main player, and the feature of the music, is indeed its bleakness, symbolised by murmuring drones and ethereal whispers worked into the foreground.
However, in spite of the confidence and competence of its execution, it’s nothing fresh by a long way. Something is changing gradually in dark ambient, with more and more artists beginning to experiment and raise the bar in a genre which has seen little development or progression for a long time. Bleakscapes adheres very much to the classic formula and doesn’t dare to deviate from it at all, staying safely in the comfort of the genre tradition. It’s perfect for enveloping us in the viscosity of its atmosphere, but with so much more on the horizon for this genre we should really be asking for more than this. My fear is that as the underbelly of the style expands into more releases such as these, we’ll see less development, less flair and less risk. It’s high time for the genre to be something greater, and the onus should be on the experienced hands to lead the charge rather than ploughing old furrows.