I’ll admit this up front: I’m fairly easily creeped out. Not easily grossed out, but easily creeped out. When I was a little kid, I remember playing this game with my cousins where all of us would sit in the dark, and my cousin Gina would make us think of the scariest stuff we could think of, and it would freak me out every time. I’m glad this album wasn’t playing then because I would’ve pissed myself. (Also, credit where credit is due: my cousin Gina passed away in 1991, and I owe her this: she was the biggest Ozzy fan you’d ever meet. She introduced me to Ozzy and Sabbath and more. Without her, I literally would not be on this site today. RIP, kid. We miss you.)
I’ll also admit this: those last two ratings on the chart above are a shot in the dark because this is ambient music. While E.V.P. is one of the most interesting, accessible and musical of these groups that I’ve run across—”groups,” “individuals,” whatever the proper term would be–Canticles is still more interested in atmospherics and composition than in songwriting or instrumental proficiency. This is a sinister and brooding and macabre affair, like the soundtrack to a classic horror film—the kind of disturbing movie that builds tension through moody and unsettling development rather than through nauseating carnage. But Canticles is more than just the genre-requisite industrial elements and sound effects, as well—there’s orchestration, quite a bit of neo-classical symphonics that further the film-score allusion.
The brainchild and sole member Scorpios Androctonus, hails from Kaiserslautern, Germany, and Canticles is his debut release. With song titles like “Mist Of Which Apparitions Are Made” and “May The Dead Speak,” plus the album title and a moniker that’s an abbreviation for Electronic Voice Phenomena, the alleged appearance of ghostly voices on recordings or in static, it’s safe to say that Androctonus has a more-than-healthy interest in the paranormal. (“May The Dead Speak” features EVP recordings, and I gotta tell you, it’s creepy even if it is just static. I challenge you to listen to that in the dark and not feel the hairs rise up on the back of your neck.)
More than any other style, ambient music is mood music, and with that in mind, between the industrial touches, the somber orchestral flourishes, and the generally disquieting aesthetic, E.V.P. has managed to craft one of the better, darker and more traditionally musical journeys I’ve taken into the realm of dark ambient. The sounds of running water, church bells, mechanical clangs, woodwinds and strings all add up to a spine-tingling listen. But in those latter two components lie the rub: it is music. It’s not just solely bangs and bashes and scrapes and crashes—there’s an actual musical component that makes it more than just a collection of noises. The somber melodies plus the sickening gurgling ambience that comprises “Flesh Boiling From Bone” is like a snippet from some vintage serial-killer film, just without the video, and all in, this shit gives me the willies. (I told you up front that I’m prone to that.)
Fans of Cold Meat Industries’ finest hours, seek this out immediately. This is seriously seriously eerie. And seriously seriously good.
Also noteworthy: the album is packaged in a DVD case, and the booklet folds out into a Ouija board. So if listening to the dead communicating through recordings of static on the radio isn’t enough, now you can ask them questions in return…