Blood Box – The Iron Dream

up_030705_bloodboxIt’s been a long time since we’ve seen a new full length release from this influential Dark Ambient project, but “The Iron Dream” is a fine example of the benefits of taking your time versus churning out releases. Blood Box, for those that don’t know, is a project of Michael Hensley of Yen Pox fame, and while it operates in a similar sphere, they are definitely their own entities. This new material shows a further expansion of the pervasive and stirring style of Dark Ambient both projects have received such acclaim for. “Fall In” uses very subtle ethnic percussion and a slow melody but it is mixed carefully into the middle of the shifting reverberations and desolate textures so that it maintains part of a whole rather than a simplified focal point. “Lower Realm” begins sparsely with a percussive tone striking out in the distance and the cave air atmosphere swirls between the decaying strikes. Vocals samples are mixed and processed quietly to offer only a suggestion of their message through the murk. There are recognizable synth tones and simple melody woven through this as the girth of the piece ebbs and flows. “Cold Hand In Mine” has a mournful undertone to it in the oscillating melody. The synth work swells to a cinematic sort of grandeur as the piece develops as distant echoes smear through the background. “To The End Of Night” becomes airy at times and more sinister in others creating a more disorienting feel in places thanks to the swelling and panning textures. “Beneath The Black Wave” opens with sounds that make the title completely appropriate, crashing swells of grim ambience. Distant voices and a rich organ tone combine with backward masked acoustics. From there the track takes on an almost fantastical tone of inflated textures and melancholy melody, before breaking apart into what feels like a crumbling childrens nursery. The disc ends with “Far Side of The Sun,” the longest track at over 18 and a half minutes, though none of them are under 8 minutes. It is a bleak track of deep tones, beleaguered vocalizations, and rattling percussives, that brings to mind dead villages best with scavenger insects. This transforms itself gradually into something less bleak, but now less engrossing. The careful hand used in allowing all the layers to develop and flow gradually is fantastic, it never stagnates. “The Iron Dream” is one of the most animated things I’ve heard from Hensley, building a greater tension and digging deeper wells of despondency with the depth of the tracks while maintaining his core sound. His work continues to be among the best in the field. – Scott

~ by scottsplatter on January 4, 2009.

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