CD, Kaosthetik Konspiration, 2009
“Apostasy and the Sorrowful Child” is a melodic, modern classical-influenced slab of dark ambient. I find that the melodic elements are both this album’s strength and weakness. They work to build up a strong atmosphere and give this a specialized flavor, yet at the same time they have a tendency to fall into the tacky and/or bombastic category.
The darker, less melodic tracks are the most listenable. For example, “Faces and Shades” works well with its deep, cavernous, droning atmosphere; great, fitting chants, and subtle, but artfully used, melodic elements which mix in well and serve to aggrandize the overall gloomy, melancholy mood. Caithness achieves similar success with tracks like “Apostasie – Prelude à l’Abandon”, “Derniers Pas a Travers le Brouillard”, and “The Sorrowful Child”. These tracks remind me a little bit of raison d’etre, with the evolving drones, chanting, and sparse bell hits. While not on the same level as Peter Andersson, it’s still very refreshing to hear a band making this style of ambient. Production-wise, the whole affair is kind of muddy, which lends to a murky and ‘dark’ sound, but there is certainly room for improvement. While hardly reinventing the wheel or taking the genre into uncharted territory, these are solid, if predictable, cuts of dark ambient.
Unfortunately, amidst these enjoyable tracks are songs like “Sortie de Terre” and “Luminaissance” which use an overabundance of repetitive, bright, layered melodic elements (piano, strings, pads) plus weak, tinny snare drums that end up making me feel like I am listening to ballads from the “Nutcracker”. They, arguably, do contain a dominant atmosphere, however it’s certainly not what I want to hear when I put on a dark ambient record.
Overall, “Apostasy and the Sorrowful Child” is a straight-forward, though quite listenable, collection of dark ambient. Despite a few clunkers, this album is predominately commendable and worth checking out for fans of the genre. Hopefully Caithness continues to grow as a musician and producer; there is definitely some potential here which has yet to be fully tapped.
— Dan Barrett