First in a planned trilogy of albums inspired by Dante’s Inferno, Tremor follows in the more rhythmic, active style of music that dark ambient pioneer vidnaObmana (Dirk Serries of Belgium) has favored in recent years. In addition to his usual synths, flutes, and electronic and organic percussion, Tremor also features electric guitar, Ebow, Fujaras, and something called a “dreampipe.” Pervaded by a deep sense of disquiet and confusion, the album on the whole feels like the nightmarish journey of a traveler lost in a very dark place — perhaps the “forest dark” that a lost Dante describes finding himself within in the first Canto of the Inferno.
Like all of vidnaObmana’s work, Tremor is deeply compelling, but difficult to describe in words. Most of the pieces flow seamlessly into each other, so that it becomes nearly impossible to pick out where one ends and another begins. Take the creepy “Flesh Eater,” for instance, with its dark synth atmospheres pierced by percussion that rattles like bones dancing and clacking against each other, and a truly monstrous electronic “reaper” sound like a toothed saw stripping flesh from limbs. Toward the end, a brighter synth pattern rises in the distance, like rays of moon and sunlight slanting in through a square hole in the roof of a charnel house. Then the bright synth moves to the foreground and begins to clash with the percussion and other synths, creating a sense of disorientation that guides us into the next track, “Mind Tunnel.” Here, amid dark synths writhing in back, electronic percussion, and guitar feedback, there is a sense of space opening around you, and of movement down a wide passage alternately lit and shadowed. Percussive creature sounds scuttle off down side tunnels, while flute touches flit past like smoke-ghosts. Sometimes torches gutter on the walls, sometimes will-o-the-wisps bob past you in the darkness, as little rattlings like flying demons or gnashing teeth flap or chatter past unseen above your head. Toward the end plucked guitar notes slow your travel down the “Mind Tunnel,” evoking “The Insane Brightness” that surrounds you in the next track.
Another radiant slab of unnerving brilliance and abominable beauty from one of the masters of dark ambience.