CD, Cyclic Law, 2010
“Black Pyramid” is the latest release on dark ambient/drone label Cyclic Law. Typically, Cyclic Law releases are built from a standard mold: calm, droning, dark ambient. Aun is one of the few to break out of this pattern, if only somewhat.
Like his contemporaries, he utilizes quite beautiful, heavy and dark atmospheric sections in his music. This type of sound makes up a large portion of this record, and I highly enjoy it. The deep guitar drones, like the sands shifting under the ancient pyramids, sucking you into the abyss, and the higher drones, sweeping and whooshing like ethereal winds around you, enclosing you in the void. On top of that, we have the more noisey sounds of distorted guitar, which occasionally meander along, sometimes disintegrating into collapsing screeches and pops. The tracks are hardly stagnant, and are constantly evolving and ebbing, growing and morphing.
I’m not a fan of abrasive noise in ambient music, and thankfully, for the most part, Aun doesn’t go off the deep end with the noise; the overall result is simply a mood of intensity rather than something overly abrasive. However, if you prefer harsher ambient, I think this will still cater to your fancy. As I mentioned before, this record feels very ‘intense’ or forceful, but also very meditative; as if this mass of tension is constantly building as you’re on the cusp of some vast spectral ocean, waiting for it to suddenly appear before you out of the blackness. Unlike most ambient, which is arguably better at lower volumes, “Black Pyramid” demands high-volume listening. At low levels it sounds a bit like a standard guitar drone, but when heard at the proper level this aspect absolutely takes you in its grasp and envelopes you. There is no avoiding the sheer magnitude of this recording once you’ve opened the gates.
All in all, a great listen for fans of guitar drone, visionary ambience, and/or the Aural Hypnox school of dark ambient (Zoat Aon comes to mind). Some fans of ambient may be a bit turned off by the distorted textures and intensity: it’s not a gentle record. Some of the distorted sounds don’t mesh with the magnificent underlying ambience, and that kind of annoyed me throughout. The mixing probably could have been better overall. And I hate the fuzzy stoner rock guitar tone, but maybe that’s just me. Other than that there wasn’t too much I didn’t like. I would have liked some more sound effect-type-stuff (scraping, banging, etc. – there are no percussive elements here) in the background, perhaps in the same vein as Cold Meat Industry material. All in all, this isn’t the kind of ambient I usually listen to, but I was able to really get into it.
— Dan Barrett