Parhelion – Midnight Sun

Parhelion - Midnight Sun

“Midnight Sun” wastes no time: upon its opening it immediately thrusts the listener into the crushing, icy winds of the vacant arctic tundra on the curiously named “Tunturia (part II)” (any guess as to where “part I” exists is as good as mine). Oddly, this intro is the most intense part of the entire record, as the tempest subsides immediately afterwards on the second track, “Midnight Sun”. The rest of the album is more in line with the recent Cyclic Law guitar-based drone releases. It is comprised predominately of placid, droning arctic atmospheres, quite similar to “Drifting In Motion” by Necrophorus, or Biosphere’s “Substrata”. It has the bleak, somber, and melodic qualities of that Necrophorus record, but sadly without the much enjoyed sound effects of machines churning in half-frozen decay. Despite that, this is a very competent drone album and one of the best ‘arctic ambient’ albums I have come across.
At low volume levels it may seem boring and no different from similar albums, but at a mid-level volume on a good system this album really comes alive and all its nuances are exhumed from beneath blackened ice. It is a deep and chilling album if you let it reveal itself. There are a few parts that get a bit more intense and head towards wall-of-sound territory, a bit like Collapsar, but not nearly as distorted or crunchy as the recent Aun release.
The only thing I didn’t like about this album was that in a few spots, such as “Meditation Over Open Waters” there are instances with what I poorly describe as ‘guitar sounds’, which sound like picking or strumming or similar sounds. These annoyed me and don’t really mesh with the other stuff going on in the track. Then again, I really have an aversion to guitar sounds in ambient music, so other people may be able to appreciate it, or at least dislike it less. Now, to really mess with you, there is melodic (probably guitar picking) content on “The Transmission” that, inversely, I really enjoy and think fits quite well with the rest of the music.
In general, this will appeal to fans of deep, slowly evolving drones and frozen landscapes, and should not be missed by that small but intellectually powerful demographic.

CD, Cyclic Law, 2010

— Dan Barrett [8/10]

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