BogsAh, now this is dark ambient indeed. Irish duo From The Bogs Of Aughiska continue their soul felt exploration of natural and rural Ireland with their second album, the follow up to their self titled debut. It is a slow, grim place they paint soundscapes of, but one of a twilight beauty too. Beginning with the clear running water of Aughiska Mor, feedback swells behind harsh cascades of sound until the world in which you sit is pushed far enough back for the land they wish to lead is through is laid out before us.

But first they make us pause and offer a truly entrancing, dark warning of the faerie steeped world we are about to enter. Faerie? What, wee folk with funny pointy hats and shit? No. With gently supporting, subdued keys, the remarkable, compelling, resonant tones of traditional Irish seanchai, or talespinner Eddie Lenihan warns you in a voice that goes straight to the soul you mess with the Irish faeries and you’re dead. It is impossible without hearing it for yourself to say how enthralling, beautiful and dark this ten minute passage is and it is the cornerstone of this truly remarkable album. A perfect voice, a subtle cottage fireside mood. The dark outside stripping us of our daytime courage and scepticism and leaving us exposed and superstitious as any previous generation.

The fey come on, in the malevolent, black souled Hell Complex. Warnings gone, the other world presses close against the skein and the truly disturbed voice of Mories from Gnaw Their Tongues snarls and taunts us as we remain frozen in the corner of the cottage. I Rise In Bealtaine, Turn To Ash In Samhain brings a kind of relief from the malevolence. Sounds open up a view of the underworld, dark and harsh but full of a grim beauty; underground water, echoing, the subliminal static buzz of something moving close enough to disturb the air, then stillness. Inish Cathaig leads us up into a silent, windswept cliff-edge. It is a place where we live only because the land allows it. A voice talks to us, perhaps our own voice, words like redemption on it’s breath but the unease never entirely leaves. Roots Of This Earth Within My Blood strikes with distorted, deep edges, strident as something deep in the land rises. Forever on the edge of a song with the guitar strikes until it succumbs to a wind ravaged, drum driven howl of black metal. Chris Naughton (Winterfylleth) and Ken Sorceron (Abigail Williams) harnessed by this thundering rise of violence, the song sweeps on by with weird, melodic and epic keys and into the end song. This Conversatio Morum is where, as the land still calls on distorted winds, we find the still sanctuary of a church, the voices of the monks in song and prayer perhaps with, perhaps against, what we have just passed through. Is it a battle, a standoff or just two worlds existing side by side? Best ask those from the bogs of Aughiska. Or perhaps Eddie Lenihan.

Grim, bleak ambient with roots deep into the land and with the spirit of black metal, this is a stunning, enthralling piece of work. Truly worthy of the attention of anyone who loves the atmospheric. And once heard I defy you not to seek out more recordings of the remarkable Eddie Lenihan, too.

 (9/10 Gizmo)