Potentially we have here a temple of weirdness and melancholy as we have a combination of Canadian “doom experimentalists” Völur and San Franciscan “neo-classical ambient collective” Amber Asylum. Reading up on the background, the two bands involved recognise the same vision and vibe, but express them in different ways.
The Völur section comprises four pieces under the title “Breaker of Rings”. It starts with drone. A violinist adds a slow and devastatingly sad aura. As the sound expands like a wave, there is life and possibly hope. It’s very touching. This is the story of a warrior’s introspective hell. The drum beat is that of battle. The music is loosely folk-orientated, but this is a surreal world. There’s enough doom and gloom here to last a full winter. The violinist injects an aura of uncertainty and fear. It’s quiet but powerful stuff. The fourth part takes us into funereal doom with the more traditional layer of ominous drum tones but also a series of sound effects and a croaking voice to unhinge us further. This is where my own antipathy to doom came in. I get the concept and creativity, but just didn’t find it very interesting, unlike the first three pieces. (7/10)
Amber Asylum take us to a different kind of world, where there is electrical interference and a Stockhausen style hallucinogenic experience. The violin combines with deep bass and other odd sounds to change our sanity and consciousness. A certain beauty is captured in amongst the disturbing gloom, as a female voice floats above the droning symphony of “Blood Witch”. Did she sing “death and delirium”? I certainly heard “tormented dreams find no rest”. The words and sounds resemble what I’d imagine to be a psychedelic trip. It was interesting to read that these moody pieces of strangeness are a story of disease and its victim, and are based on early 20th century Indian love lyrics. I wasn’t sure if I was having a nightmare or a spiritual experience listening to “Blood Witch”. After the brief cosmic and insect-ridden “Swarm Interlude”, Amber Asylum take us to another sad symphonic piece called “Malaria”. It would be stretching it to say that the monotony was relieved when the pace steps up to provide a shift in ambience. “Malaria” is another sad and hypnotic experience. The highlight for me on this interesting split was the entrancing 11 minutes of “Blood Witch” (8/10)
What I appreciated greatly here was the way in which both bands express their art and visions. Both Völur and Amber Asylum succeed in spiriting us away into their offbeat and disturbing world of gloom.