| Aethenor - Deep in the Ocean Sunk the Lamp of Light (VHF) by Keith Boyd 01.18.07
Dread. It's one of the creepiest states of mind we can know. That sense of impending doom mixed with a touch of panic and topped off by a sense of inevitability. It eases in, surrounding your mind and fills you with a claustrophobic, trapped in your skin sensation. What do we dread? Probably the list is different for everyone. Dread carries with it a sense of history. Coastal people dreaded the sighting of pirates off the coast. The colonists dreaded the attack of Indians or the wild spirits of the raw and strange American wilderness. The first time the word dread hit me was in association with the Rastafarians and their hair, Dreadlocks. Dreadlocks! What a word! Implying those same forebodings mentioned earlier but now turning them outwards as a warning to the oppressor or as a signifier to the world of where you're head is. One thing is for sure though; dread and worry are not the same thing. Worries are a dime a dozen. I worry about the weather, I worry about my car starting on a freezing morning, I worry about whether or not there's any milk left for the coffee. Worries are the natural companion to our working thoughts. Dread on the other hand doesn't have time for the everyday and mundane activities of your life. Dread is the long shadow casting itself over the arc of our lives and informing us that every second passing brings us one step closer to death. It's this dread that informs and gives power to the great new disc by Aethenor, "Deep in Ocean Sunk the Lamp of Light".
Aethenor is the dread-filled, dark ambient combo formed by Stephen O'Malley (SunnO))), Khanate, KTL, etc.), Daniel O'Sullivan (Guapo) and Vincent De Roguin (Shora). They've really cooked up something special here. This is HUGE music! The thick, wide and wild sounds bring you into full dread mode from the second it starts and don't let go of your throat until the end. Opting to let the music speak for itself they've kept the details super sparse. There are no song titles, each track is simply called, 'Track 1", "Track 2", etc. and the artwork is simply a brownish red color with the title featured prominently. Given the artwork all of these guys other releases bear it's a strange if fitting choice. The music is so visual, so cinematic and so evocative that perhaps they figured any addition to it would simply be distracting.
Perhaps it's simply the title giving a unifier but this music sounds oceanic. We can hear the ocean in our music in so many different ways. There's the Tsunami rip of Jane's Addiction's "Ocean Size", the soft and vaguely autistic comfort of Brian Wilson's catalog. We also have the reverb drenched twang of instrumental surf music. Sometimes musicians write directly about the ocean and deal with it in that straightforward way. Here with Aethenor we have another kind of Ocean music. This ocean is the elemental and unknowable vastness experienced by the ancients. Think of what it was like to confront the ocean as both provider and destroyer. It gave your village almost every bit of food you had but it would could also wipe out your entire world in seconds. It would be a place to play and yet in a suddenly it would send forth giant beasts to eat and maim you. The ocean is still a place we know so little about. That dread of this giant unknowable place is what is evoked here. The sounds are dense and giant washes of Rhodes , synth and guitars that ebb and flow with a tidal perfection. To say that his is music perhaps misses the mark. It's more of a psychological soundtrack to our inner eye movies. The pleasure in listening to this is the same pleasure we get from digging into say, "The Iliad" or "Beowulf". It is completely surrounding and successful in engaging the creative listen. This is not background music; it rewards an active and deep approach. I say put it on LOUD in dark of night. Do this and tell me you don't feel the pull of cold water tugging at your body. Do this and tell me you don't imagine sunken ships and deep sea creatures. Do this and tell me you don't feel the Dread!