En Nihil – The Approaching Dark CD Eibon Records 2012
The long standing project En Nihil returns with a new album, which on face value stylistically fits with the current crop of American acts cultivating the grey areas between dark ambient, death industrial and power electronics genres.
Album opener ‘The Tomb of Empire’ acts as a relatively short intro piece, which has a tonal range spanning a low humming drone at the bottom end, coupled with blasting static at the forefront and upper ranges. This piece then bleeds seamlessly into ‘Frozen Posture’, which with its rumbling mass and subtle textural elements shifts towards an isolationist ambient frame. Alternately ‘The Hearts Relent’ is a total surprise (given the tracks which precede it), containing a melancholic fragility evoked though through a sparse orchestral melody and distant hummed vocals. Although unexpected, it works exceptionally well in a restrained and cinematic dark ambient style. ‘Futile Man – The Weight of Absolution’ is another stand out, with tonality quite akin to the fractured and digital filtered laptop sound of Fennesz – although this piece does move away from the summery electronica atmospheres of the aforementioned project to heavier distorted death industrial realms.
In covering yet more sonic territory ‘Souls to Cease’ delivers some buried factory ambience which builds in static intensity as the piece progresses. Likewise ‘Vulture Reign’ pushes a heavier and more forceful power electronics sound with its rough loops and cascading noise and squalled distortion – excellent stuff. Final album track ‘Darkfall’ provides another moment of listening respite, being a bleak and desolate slab of dark ambience built on a cyclic melody and muffled distant storm rumblings – a musical statement of relative calm and great concluding piece.
Although largely sitting at the heavier end of death industrial and power electronics genres, this is a varied and considered release with some excellent forays into dark ambient territory. With the sound production En Nihil illustrates clear attention to detail with the separation of tonal elements, which only enhances the listening experience. Gatefold digi-card sleeve with suitably dark imagery rounds out this tasty release.