Ambient doom brings with it a fuzzy feeling, occasioned by the misty atmosphere which in the old days would have meant interference on your television or transistor radio. Ggu:ll from Tilburg in the Netherlands join the less than happy campers devoted to this genre with “Dwaling” (Mistake). Here we have six chunky pieces designed to drag us down and stop us escaping from the murky swamps which their music evokes. Funeral it is, but it has a human face, even if it is the sound of screaming on “Dwaling (Gehirn und Abgrund)” amid the crashing industrial sounds which invade this all-pervading atmosphere of chaos and pitch blackness. I like the intensity, the heavy chords which approach the world of Blut aus Nord but depict waves of darkness. It’s leaden heavy of course and more crushing than sludgy, which creates the space to make it more inventive and interesting than if it were a still and soulless soundscape.
The plodding nightmare rumbles on with “Het Smerige Kleed van de Ziel”, but this time the relentless and deathly instrumentals are accompanied by growls and an extremely disturbing wailing vocal, which I found grating. Maybe its surreal nature was the idea. For sure it’s distinct and punishing. The surroundings are ghastly. Horror comes from all sides, so it’s best to just accept it and immerse yourself in this world. I still don’t like those wailing vocals and was glad when the feedback finally drowned them out. “Waal” is more traditional with its ponderous doom, but what distinguishes the music of Ggu:ll is the subtle backdrop. A haunting wind passes through the background before dying down. Patient and deliberate chords transform into a more expansive soundscape, not miles away from Cult of Luna but deeper and darker in its menace. Chaotic murmurings add the sense of horror and chaos. It ends without reference, which I suppose is a statement that humans have no control but Ggu:ll could have done more with this, I felt.
If “Waal” was weighty, then “Het Masker vande wereld afgetrocken” is both weighty and funereal. With this comes overwhelming leaden-weight power. I found myself humming the grim riff line. It’s always a sign of success when music like this gets into your blood stream. “Het Masker vande wereld afgetrocken” picks up but not too much and to accompany it there’s the sound of a siren and an indistinguishable swarm to remind us that this is not a pleasant place to be. The ten minute “28 March 1941, drowning” starts by evoking melancholy and tragedy, which I had not felt to this point. I confess that I don’t know the significance of this date other than it being the date when a famous Dutch Commander and former footballer Reinder Boomsma was taken in by the Gestapo for questioning. At the same time the German Navy was prolific at sinking the Allies’ ships. As the hypnotic rhythm intoxicates us, the drum issues the threat and walls come crashing down to create increasing claustrophobia. The mighty scene continues to overwhelm us and conveys the sense of going nowhere. That’s the impression but there’s no doubt that over the course of this album Ggu:ll have taken us somewhere, a somewhere which is not a place you’d want to go to for a holiday.
I thought that Ggu:ll could have modified a couple of touches to round off this statement of nihilism, but overall I found “Dwaling” very interesting and imaginative, and because of that it’s well worth the listen.
(8/10 Andrew Doherty)