A personal story wherein I’m a creep: I found this randomly while stalking Warren Ellis’s Bandcamp purchases (via my BC feed, so that’s excusable, I think).
Creating interesting dark ambient is a tough thing; you have to manage literal (mono)tones with enough changes and differences that engage the listener. Valanx does this well here, and it is refreshing not to be overwhelmed by walls of drone all the time. The decoration on the drones is surprising. Sounds akin to echoes and droplets eminate throughout the work, without taking over. Reverb bells speak softly while creaks of rusted doors and small items fall down those steps still not submerged.
There’s an overall story here, but even single tracks have a progression (Breaking Free to the Surface). Another vision of the future where water levels rising have dramatically changed the way society functions, the album is (to this listener, at least) more mathematical than dreary. It is less a sadness about how things got to be this way, and more of a documentation of how things are now (in this imagined future).
The progression of the album guides us through this changed future. We approach the water and dive deep into it before coming back out at the end in the final tracks.
The rise of water levels is expected to be prevalent in most coastal communities by the turn of the century (https://phys.org/news/2019-03-destruction-sea-california-worst-wildfires.html), although poor communities will be affected disproportionately (“And that’s why the World Bank, in its report, argues that climate change and poverty reduction can’t be separated as issues, or treated locally. The world needs to resolve both.”, Gabe Bullard writes for NatGeo). Some of the cities that will become engulfed are huge hubs of culture and life, and the displacement that will be wrought from the water level rise will create unimaginable changes to societies all over the world.
These worries may have inspired this album, but they should inspire us all to be more aware of the actions we’re taking as both linked societies and overall as a species. We’re now in damage control mode, which often makes dark ambient a genre mirroring our very situation.