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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

SECONDFACE: Wardens of the Mist (2022)

There are good moments on this deep Dark Ambient ode like there are some lengths

1 Dawn Mist 5:26

2 Harbinger 5:40

3 The Gathering 7:23

4 Windblown 5:58

5 Rays of Light 6:05

6 Forgotten Path 6:49

7 The Depths 7:17

8 Entity 7:06

(DDL 51:48) (V.F.)

(Cosmic Dark Ambient)

Decidedly, Exosphere is in cosmic-dark ambient music mode with two albums-downloads of the genre that have been released back-to-back in May and June. This time the work comes from Denmark through the music of Frank Vilbæk Jensen, alias SecondFace. The musician from Aarhus has a solid track record in the wonderful world of electronic music (EM) with albums that range from Goa-trance to Electronica. But it is rather a quiet and dark album, an ode to the Sea of Tranquility that he proposes to the ears of the assiduous fans of the Californian label with WARDENS OF THE MIST. A title very revealing of its contents. We are in a cosmic universe skilfully depicted by a music of tenebrous atmospheres. And not just a little! Exactly the idea that one can have of the Cosmos. The music and its drones propagate a strongly tarred texture by a multiplication of synth waves that clump together in a compact sound mass and move like the slowest of two-toed sloth. More amber reflections stand out from these rocks of ebony mist, bringing a sonic life that makes shine the 8 structures of WARDENS OF THE MIST that share the 52 minutes of an album that does not renew the genre.

It's thus an unctuous line of humming which traces the opening of Dawn Mist. Borrowing the shape of a creeping bass layer, it extends like a threat while radiating a brighter texture from which arpeggios emerge to screw a lunar melody in a cosmic setting. The luminosity of these arpeggios on a background of drones has what to seduce on this title which also releases waves of seraphic voices. This constant duality between the dark zones and the more translucent irradiations gives a particular cachet to this work whose darkness is thus always inhabited by a more lyric presence. We observe the same phenomenon on Harbinger which proposes a texture of dystopian ambiences à la Blade Runner with industrial explosions whose muffled resonances help to darken its sound ceiling. The movement is slow with a very thick sound mass that is pushed by huge grainy bursts of woosshh. No matter how dense this eternal darkness is, there are always cerulean shimmers that emerge. In The Gathering, this clarity takes the form of spectral squeakings behind a barrage of humming. The slow movement of the reverberating rock banks leads to a slow waltz in the ebony cloak of Cosmos. Very representative of its title, Windblown seduces with sound effects that are out of context but also for its tarry clouds of more massive drones that sound like ocean liner wails announcing a difficult passage. There are synth waves that have that tonal color of Michael Stearns' superb Chronos album, both here and in several places in WARDENS OF THE MIST. You could call them faint rays of light, and no the title Rays of Light is not full of them! It's a slightly less dark track, but its mass of black-piano reverb travels as slowly as it did in the first 25 minutes of the album.

After Dawn Mist, Forgotten Path is the most appealing track on SecondFace's debut album on Synphaera Music. Its cloud of toxic radiation is less dark and offers an auditory spectacle that distances itself from the last tracks with a more musical contour that belts out its slow evolution between dark and light zones, the purgatory of WARDENS OF THE MIST. The Depths continues on this momentum where the opaque side of the album gives way to a poetry without words but with stanzas delicately posed by murmurs without breaths, without life. We are in the best of this album with these slow interwoven movements that make our senses drift between two universes that confront each other with their tonal textures. In fact, it is like an excursion of a spaceship in more musical zones before it sets out again in these territories where the darkness suffocates all clearness, as in Entity which loops the loop of an album conceived on the theme of science fiction. Of a journey without return towards the darkest territories of the Cosmos. There are good moments on this album as there are some lengths.

Sylvain Lupari (July19th, 2022) ***½**

Available at Exosphere's Bandcamp

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