About time to continue the post series about my favorite ambient albums – and about time to enter the realm of Dark Ambient again. I’m beginning with Sleep Research Facility’s “Deep Frieze” from 2007.
I first came into contact with Sleep Research Facility (fancily written as SleepResearch_Facility sometimes) through an obscure track on my hard disk that had been lying there for who knows how long. 🙂 And to this day I have no idea how it got there, but I’m glad it did! The filename was “Nostromo – A-Deck.mp3” and I liked what I heard. When I researched it, I found out that Nostromo was actually the title of the album, and “A-Deck” was the first track. The artist was Sleep Research Facility.
I bought the Nostromo album; the idea behind it is to recreate the atmosphere of the spaceship “Nostromo” (from the very first “Alien” movie, remember?) as it glides through space while everyone is in this hibernation/cryo-sleep thing. Intrigued? So was I. Nostromo is intense, to say the least. Enough of the background info, before I digress too much. 🙂
After Nostromo, it was quite obvious that I just had to obtain the other works of Kevin Doherty, the man behind Sleep Research Facility. Nostromo was his first album, Deep Frieze is his third (or fourth, depending on whether you count the extension/remake of Dead Weather Machine “Reheat” a separate album), and I’ve once read that the third album of any artist or band is something like a defining or maybe “peak” moment. That is very true for Deep Frieze – it is undoubtedly his best work.
The track names are coordinates, all placed in the vast emptiness of Antarctica (yes, I checked) and as such, they are probably more of a genre statement – they say: file under “Glacial Ambient” (sometimes also called “Arctic Ambient”). Yep, yet another sub-genre! Perhaps you remember the post about Biosphere’s “Substrata” album – some call it one of the defining “Glacial Ambient” albums, however I’d place Substrata more towards the “normal” end of the ambient spectrum, while Deep Frieze is definitely more on the Dark/Drone end of the spectrum. Ah, genres! (just imagine yourself some kind of cluttered Venn diagram here;-).
Deep Frieze has moments where it reminds of Substrata, no doubt, but as a whole, the difference is substantial. Substrata is nuanced and multi-layered, with more clearly defined tracks. Deep Frieze on the other hand is a block of ice, a glacier that shoves its mass over a bed of frozen rock, scraping and scratching and polishing it. Above it, sparse melodies glide in and out like majestic, dark mountaintops revealed by breaks in a snow storm when the wind dies down. And here and there, some sparkling of snowflakes and ice crystals in the cold, cold sun.
I quite honestly think it’s not for everyone. You have to give it a try.