It’s hard to not feel content with so many big releases this year. As far as CD and EP releases go, this year has been a bit of a magnum opus for the music industry - with what the thousands of (arguably) strong and refreshing material being served to a crowd of millions. I think my music library has expanded itself at a larger rate this year than any other in the past decennia and that's without even actively searching for new stuff. Every time I'm getting fed up with a release, something new arrives in my inbox that interests me. This is a good thing for the most part. The downside of all this however, is that I've kind of lost the will to look for new music in the sprawling underground scene. This is something that I seek to remedy in the future though. But even with all the wonderful mainstream stuff given to me at a high speed, there are still some underground releases that manage to captivate and interest my oversaturated ears: the illusive This Mortal Night's self-titled album.
Frequent visitors of MRD and my reviews know that I value atmosphere above all else. I like mystery, a vague sense of ethereal calmness drenched in reverb and delay - music where the emphasis lies on feelings and instrumentation. And emotions that can still be felt even if you're not actively listening to the music. This Mortal Night has all of these qualities and more. At this point in a review I've already filled you in on the creator of the reviewed content but in the case of TMK it's a hard thing to do since there's almost no information to be found on him. The only thing that I could dig up is his label Karabaz records, which is on Bandcamp - I suggest you go there and listen.
The album opens with the dark and moody Moan of the Winter Wind, a track that despite its best efforts did not bode well for the rest of the album for it seems to be lost as to what its place and purpose is. It sounds rather random and misplaced and nowhere did it seem to peak my interest. So, off to a bad start. My Cold and Beautiful Nights sees TMN find his footing and proper direction and is in itself an emotional, sparse and evocative piece that sounds like a stripped down Erik Satie recorded in an enormous room. It really plays around with space and delivers a hauntingly beautiful piece that makes you forget the album opener. The album takes this path from this track on, continuing to showcase its spacious and moody tone on Echoes of Long Ago. It's yet another haunting piano piece with an unconventional time signature or structure backed up by echoing pads in the distance. It sounds like an echo from the ambient releases of old. Field and Stream breaks away from the album with a less sombre tone and orchestral elements. A soundtrack for a new day.
And this is where dynamics step in for a bit. The next track (Midnight Lake) creates an atmosphere that sets the now familiar piano on top of a chorus of crickets. It's a very welcome change from the dark and moody pieces that came before but it still manages to convey that sense of space perfectly. The only gripe I have with this particular track is its length and I get the feeling that it's way too short, clocking in at a mere 1:43. Wasted potential in my humble opinion. A Dark Sinister is a continuation of the moodiness of the piano minus the actual piano. It's the only proper drone track on the CD and as such it stands lonely at the top. The Great White Hollow brings back the piano (and only the piano this time). It's beautiful, but nothing special. The album closer, the nostalgically named those Were The Nights, sees us off with a sombre melody that echoes through the aforementioned space. It's a sad and lonely goodbye that makes you wish that it wasn't this way.
To sum things up: this is a strong release on one hand, a weak release on the other. Some parts are incredibly boring and uninteresting. Other parts are vibrating with life and emotion. These two sides of the same coin do make for a good release; a great starting point for what I'm sure is going to be a fulfilling career as an artist. One thing is certain though, I'll be looking forward to seeing what he does next because for all its flaws, it does show great potential.