2CD, Malignant Records, 2010
It always amazes me that a process so restrictively analytical as the construction of dark ambient music can yield such a deeply emotional response from a listener. Although it isn’t quite the detached melancholy reaction experienced when listening to, for instance, Chopin’s “Nocturnes”, or the inescapable uplifting of Vivaldi’s “Spring”, or even the zombie-like compulsion to dance inspired by Noise Unit’s “Hollow Ground”, there is still an undeniable response to Yen Pox’s “Blood Music” that stirs deep within the soul.
A massive two-disc collection – disc one is a re-release of the seminal album of the same title, with one new offering (“Beneath the Sun”) and disc two brings together various polished, revised and unreleased works dating from as far back as 1993 – “Blood Music” is a great retrospective look at a long career within the genre. Stylistically, their sound hasn’t changed much – brooding drones with incidental stabs of unexpected nihilism, sparsely populated with unexpected, chilling textures, and steering well clear of such archaic conventions as rhythm, melody or time signatures. As a result, it’s quite a stretch calling the album “Blood Music” when it’s about as far from the common perception of what ‘music’ is as you can get. The only real shared ground lies in the emotional aspect mentioned above.
Technicality, though, is the realm where Yen Pox shines: the revision of old tracks is always a difficult process for any producer, but they manage very well indeed. Overall, there is a constant level of quality maintained – clear, resounding delays, reverberations without a trace of tin, all driven by an insistent, throbbing bass register that churns the guts without crackling. It’s this attention to detail in the final mastering stages of production that separates bedroom producers from serious musicians… although, in the case of ambience this technical and far-reaching, architects (or possibly engineers) may be a better job description for Yen Pox.
Perhaps it’s my lack of focus, but the shortest tracks on the record (“Thin | Empty” and “Virus”) catch my attention best: they deliver their payload of deep, amorphous tension succinctly and effectively, in less than seven minutes each.
Unfortunately, as is the case with most ambient music, the general public perception lies somewhere between whale song and slowed-down samples and field recordings, so it’s unlikely that an album like “Blood Music” will receive the attention it deserves, despite the original release from fifteen years back still being considered a benchmark within the dark ambient genre. The few enlightened souls who prefer music that slips between the dark vacuum separating their very atoms and rewrites their genetic structure from the inside out, however, can only stand to benefit from adding this release to their collection.
— David Van Der Merwe