CD & online release, self-released, 2005
Having been in search of Middle Eastern, Asian, African and otherwise non-“western” dark electronic music for several years now, Moroccan dark ambient project Djenjer immediately struck my interest when I heard of it.
His debut album, Vortex, was made in only a couple of months, and shows much promise, especially considering that the man behind Djenjer, Yassine Maaroufi, apparently hasn’t released anything before at all.
“Vortex” is a concept album above all. The theme is space – the cosmos – and all its workings. This is by no means an original theme, but the way in which Yassine works with the aural aspects of this theme in some of these songs is highly original and fresh.
The first track, “Black Star Dying”, plays out like the panicked emissions and eruptions of a star turning supernova – digitized and converted into audio. Yassine, like some kind of cosmic god, manipulates the soundscapes in a freeform fashion that gives the sounds a life of their own, while still maintaining a coherency throughout the piece that even makes way for a hidden melody of sorts. It’s absolutely brilliant!
The next two songs, “Grinding Through Space” and “Cosmic Tempest” take a different turn, however, flattening the drones out to almost sounding like amplified background radiation, interrupted and influenced by the imaginary surroundings that are drifting by at high speeds. Unfortunately, while this minimalistic take on dark ambient is a very interesting idea, especially these two songs are simply too long. It does get better afterwards though, especially with “Around Newborn Stars Melted Planets Spin” which in some ways reminds me a bit of “Grinding Through Space”, but is much more intense and emotional. While still also keeping the whole minimalistic sound, more just happens – and so it keeps you hooked. The emotion-laden ambience is amplified and intensified on the final track, “Planet Cries”. It is a short piece that, like the first track, has a melody hidden in the… not sure what to call it – planetary cries of pain?
Overall, Djenjer has a huge amount of potential. He seems to take the structural aspects of minimalism, and freeform noise/power electronics and imposes them onto dark ambient soundscapes in a way that gives them an air of mystery, makes them breathe and seem to have a life of their own. But one of the main problems with this release is that it really needs some post production as well as better mastering. The sound really lacks a certain dimension – a low rumble, a wider scope that seeks to envelop the listener – that I’m convinced would make this release an extremely powerful one.
But like I said, there’s a lot of untapped potential in the Djenjer project, and I’m looking very forward to his next release. If he keeps this up, he’s going to go a long way.
— Jonas Mansoor