CD, First Fallen Star, 2010
If you are a fan of dark ambient, you have likely heard the name Mystified. Unfortunately, it is probably not because of his immense talent, but rather due to his immense discography. One look at his page on discogs.com shows that seemingly every time this man sits at the computer he walks away with a full-length album. So, on the one hand we have the negative weight of quantity versus quality, but on the other hand this release has amazing packaging and mastering by Frederic Arbor of Cyclic Law.
On first listen, this isn’t as boring as I expected from someone who has the tendency to release over twenty albums a year. There are some genuinely interesting elements at play here: calm, dark, minimal drones, various melodic elements, and even some well-crafted tribal-esque percussion. Only some of the tracks contain beats, which is nice if you also enjoy more droning soundscapes. The melodic stuff is typically good as well; each track has some type of melody, whether it is a highly reverbed flute or distant synth line. I find that these melodies add a sad, cinematic and almost ancient/medieval tinge to the work, which I quite enjoy. Another positive aspect of this album is that it remains tranquil and serene throughout its duration, providing an enjoyable, relaxing listening experience through its shadowed corridors.
Though this album is comprised of many good elements, the sin of haste comes to raze the monoliths Mystified attempts to construct. It is readily apparent that not enough time was spent on this album to make it truly epic or memorable. The most obvious flaw is the substantial amount of repetition and monotony. Each track spends the first minute or so building up and introducing sounds. Once they have been introduced, however, they just repeat, seemingly indefinitely, until the final minute or so of the track, upon which any elements fade into a droning outro. Every drone is indistinguishable from the previous track, and every beat is stagnant, never altering itself. After the second song, “Dark Transition”, every melody sounds nearly identical, in both sound and scale, not to mention they are all two or three notes that just repeat every few bars until you become so annoyed that you switch to the next track. And sadly, that is kind of all there is to this album. A few interesting elements appear and repeat themselves until they’ve more than worn out their welcome; these fade and all too similar ones rise in the subsequent track.
This could have been a very good album, yet, as it stands, it is like an enormous castle whose exterior is well crafted and elegant, while the interior is stark and empty. There is something of glory and magnificence here, but it is yet unfinished and a mere shadow of its grandiose potential. Dark ambient fans will definitely find something to enjoy here, but will leave ultimately unfulfilled.
– Dan Barrett