[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
Fall is in the air, dead leaves are piling up on my yard and the streets have all the animation of an embalmed cadaver. The author of this wickedly engaging record has a soft spot for this time of year and moreover, a taste for the macabre. Nyctophobia is defined as being a fear of the night or darkness and there is plenty of both to be absorbed throughout the seven tracks making up The Travel’s debut. Some of you may know him from his other project, Deformer; this bears very little resemblance to what he’s done before.
To call this merely music misses the point entirely.
I don’t quite know what you’d file this as. The beast certainly knows how to groove and our author employs his skills behind the mixing console to conjure up a bizarrely fascinating environment for our ears to wander about in. You have classic -and I do mean classic- breaks driving much of what’s contained here but then there are the small noises he inserts which make you look over your shoulder; you’ll get the chills more than a few times due to the wonderful way in which he perverts the course of recognized song structure to suit the narrative of this story.
And it is definitely a story. This could work in any number of horror films I’ve seen over the years, particularly the ones which were left open ended at their respective finales. Nothing decisive emerges here, either, just a murky and malevolent haze lowering over one’s mind.
If the goal was to keep the listener from sleeping then he’s nailed it handily. Everything required to make your flesh crawl he’s managed to fit into his tracks: one song has a warped chorus beckoning you in while another utilizes what sounds like a fire cheerily burning on it’s own to project incredible menace. Hello asks the voice… no answer… hellllllo? Still no reply. This would sound absolutely incredible on wax, please please please make it so.
Out in the woods with the daylight waning… do you wait for your friends who keep disappearing to return or do you stop for the night… the connection ‘Nyctophobia’ has to classic nightmare tales such as Walissa The Beautiful, The Hobyahs or Bluebeard is inescapable; this material provokes visions of the darkest kind and does so without falling back on tropes or trends. A solitary voice in the wilderness which states: beware.