I’ve definitely developed a bit of an interest recently in atmospheric, expressive music. There’s what seems to be an expanding number of musicians putting out this sort of work of late, and part of the beauty of it lies in the fact that it tends to defy genre labeling.
Exile, a four track EP from San Antonio based outfit Darknaut, is a sonic treat in that respect. Rhythmic melodies done in sharp synth tones combine with pounding beats and vocal samples. Dealing with themes of space travel and mind control, the EP gives a distinct impression of cult sci-fi, and in places, 8-bit style sounds contribute even further to that. Layers and textures fade in and out, across and under one another, sometimes in harmony, a symphonic soundscape, other times peeling back layer by layer, slowly or suddenly, to reveal more delicate undertones.
A Kind of Space opens the EP with the sort of vocal sample which play a significant role in pulling together the overall feel of the music throughout, before exploding into stabbing, rhythmic life.
Mind Dominion begins as almost a continuation of the feel of the first, before giving way to a softer sound, almost lullaby-like, before once again pushing back into a more rapid and immediate pace. The West Hertz Experience brings forward an altogether more urgent feel with elements of classic techno threading through alternating rhythms, speeding up, then slowing down, always keeping the listener on their toes. Closing track Light or Darkness has an altogether more laid back feel, and finishes off the EP beautifully, whilst still retaining that significantly soundtracky impression that is present throughout.
The wealth of sounds crafted to work together throughout is a truly engaging auditory experience, and it’s clear that the influences on this work are broadly varied. Perhaps a broad range of influence is exactly why this sort of music tends to transcend any genre label, potentially sliding comfortably in alongside any number of electro-based sub-genres, and yet never quite being any of them. Or, at least, not in the sense of a comfortable, neat label. But I’ve never put much stock in comfortable, neat labels where any kind of art is concerned.