CD, First Fallen Star, 2009
German dark ambient takes a variety of forms, but rarely does it feel as organic as “Morben”, the first full-length album from Aspectee. However much the machine aesthetic remains apparent in grinding drones and soothing static washes, an element of the earth persists here, its presence both insistent and intangible. Limited to 500 copies, the “Morben” digipak’s cover art depicts plants rendered in vibrant colors with vibrating lines – a clue toward the depth of psychedelic experience the album holds. This isn’t just standard dark ambient fleshed out with cold, void-gazing drones and gossamer atmospheres; it is a planetary song.
“Morben” does not move to sedate its listener, nor do I find that it is in any way unnerving or eerie, as a good portion of the genre tends to be. Its sonic experience is elastic and protean, its passages closely interwoven yet unmistakable, its movement patient and ageless. Machine whir and industrial hum have a prominent role here, but the noise is polished, not necessarily abrasive. Drones range from crackling and orchestral (“newin”) to radioactive percolations and flowing air (“gotheDrStone”), or from klaxon waves and powerful strings (“kince”) to primitive surges and shivering winds (“betho et”). Hints of massive, unseen movements bolster this last track, while buried voices bleed through the layers, only surfacing temporarily.
Awash in the fecund darkness, these voices breathe life into other tracks as well. Some are whispers, rising with the increasing complexities of layering (“leanon”), while others appear like transmissions across shimmering distances (“kince”). This contributes to the familiarity “Morben” engenders – many fleeting sounds are recognizable for a few seconds, but are then manipulated into something else, just far enough removed as to become indecipherable against a background of unfathomable scale. Thus the listener is drawn into the earth, into the very substance of the world.
“Morben” is methodical in its noise versus ambient dynamic. Neither aspect entirely dominates any one composition, and transitions between the two are prolific. The spaces Aspectee creates are flowing and minimal, interjected with everything from slight scratches, acoustic elements and found sounds to crashing ambient noise and the disruptive tendrils of digital surges. Ringing, multi-layered drones and walls of murmuring static typify these subtle yet strangely spiritual tracks. Album closer “unwic” brings an organic and harmonious finish to the sonic experience, its small movements tunneling beneath calm atmospheres, perhaps a reflection upon the mechanics of existence itself.
— Dutton Hauhart