[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
Dark Ambient as a style is at a bit of a crossroads currently, there’s a lot of it being pumped out with the majority having all the menace of camomile tea; formula is driving many of these artists coupled with amusing new terms which keep appearing. Definitions, diagrams and long-winded debates are not unheard of now; all the mystery and terror this movement was built upon is being ironed out so no one ever is surprised or caught off guard. Pop music may still hold the crown in terms of vapid conformity but when all you have to do is slap some skulls and runes on your album cover to qualify is it really so different.
Enter Vortex with his latest record, one which does not shy away from the ugliness inherently entwined within this ride we term reality; its so nice to have him back because what he does is a continual reminder that keeping it experimental yields magnificent results. I’ve read that this is the final act in a trilogy of albums, which was news to me; I’ve never been one for press releases as so many reviews out there just regurgitate most of the text they contain and call it good. When I say keeping it experimental that’s exactly the case, these tracks are him experimenting with elements not designed to fit together.
Throughout his career, Vortex has not been one to play nice; go to his bandcamp and you’ll soon see that he has no methodology to what he does. The ends justify the means could be the one constant in everything he’s given us, it definitely is the case on ‘As Gods Fall’, a title which could be interpreted ad infinitum. Do we find pounding drums? Yes. Are the atmospheres malicious? Yes. Do the pieces form a cohesive whole? Yes… and no. That’s the beauty. You have to take your time dismantling his creations, mindless consumption is not on the menu.
You’ll find acoustic guitar on one song but the next will be completely on the other side of the arena; make no mistake, this is a combative release with all manner of sonic dissonance running amok. Above it all there is chaos and not the type to rely on numbers or the collective opinion of the online hive, either. I think he may have been out to capture the sound of madness with this one and then there are the remixes… nary a dud. Some of them even have the audacity to not only expand on what he’s given them, they expound on the concepts contained therein.
Marcus Stiglegger doesn’t just want your attention, he wants you to think: not just about what he’s seeking to convey in his music but of how every single event in life no matter how infinitesimal connects. The best works I’ve heard are those which allow the mind to wander far and wide; you can add ‘As Gods Fall’ to that very short list.