CD, Some Place Else, 2006
Performer, composer and sound designer Niko Skorpio releases his music through a wide range of labels and is a member of many concurrent projects, each reflecting a different aspect of his musical interests and personality. He spent five years recording the “Escape from Heaven” album and sees it as his most personal work to date, reflecting his own experiences during the time it was recorded.
Working largely on the dark ambient, experimental and cinematic soundscape side of electronic music, Skorpio incorporates elements of post-industrial, ritual/occult themes and even incorporates a little of his early work in the metal arena.
Focused around dark throbbing ambience with otherworldy echoes and voices coming in and out of the mix, Skorpio builds an air of tension and presence throughout the album. The only time he breaks the theme is with the slightly odd distraction of the title track which is a reminiscent look back at his earlier metal roots. Aside from that diversion, the album has a consistent theme throughout, with often bassy tones and crashing beats sitting alongside weird reversed sound effects, chinking metal, monk-like chants, spectral atmospheres and occasional effect laden vocals adding to the ever dark mood. “O” for example slowly builds, adding layer on layer of new sound before stripping them away again. “No Longer Still” that follows “O” is even more disturbing as it features a strange almost taunting child-like voice over sparse electronics to emphasise the effect. “Dudael”, the longest track on the album, is actually a trilogy of tracks combined into a suite; although it starts out with an Eastern influence and introduces crashing industrial drums, the track eventually disintegrates into a low mechanical grind covered in an array of electrical buzzes. Closing the album is “Towards Distant 93” which follows the dark haunting ritualistic pattern of the earlier tracks on the album, this time adding desolate windswept ambiences.
For those lucky enough to get hold of the very limited edition, of which there were only 29 pre-ordered copies, they were also treated to a photo of Skorpio and a bonus CD-R entitled “Tower of Silence”, all of which are hand numbered and signed. Consisting of 4 tracks, the first three recorded in various locations in South Finland between April 21st and May 2nd 2006 and the final track is taken from various session recordings for the album. The first of the tracks on the bonus disc is “Tower of Silence” which forms the fourth part of the “Dudael” suite and forms a link between “Part 3” and “Towards Distant 93” which follows it. Clocking in at 17 and a half minutes, “Tower of Silence” is a harrowing windswept ambient opus. “Red” and “777” are based around field recordings, the former of water dripping and latter basically a constant pitch signal, possibly from a TV. The fourth and final track “Memory of Another Colour” is an experiment sound manipulation with orchestration and soothing electronic tones obscured by gently undulating static interference.
Although the mood is consistently dark and heavy throughout, “Escape from Heaven” is wonderfully constructed and, while it is occasionally quite harrowing and disturbing, the music is accomplished and carefully considered. The result is a dense multi-layered sonic experience that offers something new on every listen.
— Paul Lloyd