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Lacus Somniorum – Tideshaper

Lacus Somniorum - Tideshaper

CD, Cyclic Law, 2008

It is not hard to figure out right off the bat what one is getting into with this release. Latin name, cover art is a dark picture of the moon and water, song titles about water, being released on Cyclic Law… It’s no surprise that this is a deep, droning, dark ambient release. I’m somewhat familiar with Cyclic Law, and with that said, this release is pretty much exactly what I expected to hear.
“Tideshaper” is fairly straight-forward drone/dark ambient. It’s got a fundamental framework of big, dark, plodding passages that are heavy and slow moving like continental drift. These, combined with the subtle water/ocean theme, make me feel like I am sitting in an abandoned, half-sunken boat surrounded by nothing but the empty ocean covered in thick fog and the star-riddled sky. The darkness is alive and pulsating around me; the clanks and crackles of both the boat and my sanity permeate the night. Somewhere off in the unseen distance are the whispers of strange ethereal flutes and hauntingly muted choirs. And that’s it – for 56 minutes. If that description sounds appealing than you will love this record. As I said, this release is hardly pushing any boundaries, but it’s excellent at what it does. The atmosphere is colossal and captivating, and the darkness they create is heavy, rich and organic. The addition of heavily reverbed flute and what sound like time-stretched (and equally reverbed) vocals gives the music a very ethereal feel and a bit of its own character.
My qualms about this record are twofold. That is to say, I find two of the tracks unlistenable. Firstly, “Point of No Ascent” has terrible production and is completely missing the low end (the low end on the rest of the record is fantastic), and as a result the high end is headache-inducing. The music box-ish sound in the beginning annoys me to no end and I always skip this track. The other is the closing track in which nothing happens. It’s just a pointless, quiet, low drone for about 5 minutes with almost no variation whatsoever. Why someone would release this as a ‘song’ – when the rest of the album is actually good, no less – is beyond me.
This is the first release for Lacus Somniorum, and while it sounds like they have not quite carved out their own sound, they have put forth a promising debut and I will absolutely be checking out their future work. If you are a fan of Cyclic Law acts like New Risen Throne or Northaunt than you should definitely add this to your collection.


— Dan Barrett

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