CD, Silentes Minimal Editions, 2009
“Forgotten Realm” is the newest release from dark ambient project Hall of Mirrors, which is comprised of Andrea Marutti (aka Amon) and Giuseppe Verticchio (aka Nimh). The album appears to have several other collaborators as well. Sound-wise, “Forgotten Realm” is a dark, etho-ambient record that is a bit reminiscent of Steve Roach, Alio Die, or some Robert Rich. The album art provides a fitting visual representation of the contents of this record: evocative soundscapes that bring to mind exploring ruined jungle temples and the rites of the forgotten primeval tribe who built them. The songs are structured with foundations of long, layered droning passages with various other sounds (guitar, didgeridoo, flutes, etc.) making an appearance at different points throughout the rather lengthy durations. The tracks are, in essence, minimal (not dissimilar from Marutti’s own Amon project), although just enough happens at the proper intervals to keep the listener from becoming bored. In a couple of the tracks, the drones will build into a noisy, near-cacophonous section before subsiding back into a quieter state. The flow between these sections is good, and they add a heightened state of urgency and the feeling of imminent peril. The ethnic instrumentation is rather minimal as well; most of the instruments will only play one rather simple melody, however this works fine in the context of these tracks; any more would likely be overkill. There are sections of subtle, but repetitive, percussive sounds (“Decadent Splendor”) or repeating pulsing sounds (“Among the Ruins”) that give this record something of a hypnotic, ritualistic feel. Though the tracks are all fairly long (beyond twelve minutes), they never overstay their welcome; however, they seem to have unnecessarily long dwindling outros, and most of them could have ended a minute or so earlier.
My main critique of this album is that it sounds really old. If someone told me that this was released in 1991, I would believe it wholeheartedly. The production is quite muddy and extremely gritty, though it doesn’t detract terribly from the music (it sounds suitably ancient, I suppose), and it may even suit certain tastes.
Overall, this is a pretty interesting, albeit hardly revolutionary, bit of tribal/ethnic dark ambient. I’m a big fan of tribal influence, and this one definitely caught my ear. If you’re interested in hearing the ancient ceremonies of a long dead, mysterious jungle tribe, and don’t mind gritty production, then you will want to check this out.
— Dan Barrett