Subterranean Source – Ellipsis

[Reviewed by: stark]

Dark ambient is such a strange genre where conservatism is considered as a virtue. You won’t come up with anything new here, and if you manage to create something that sounds like it was created two decades ago, you’ll get a decent amount of respect from many fans, including me. Sure, technology is moving forward, but conceptually or in terms of atmosphere creation, we have been standing in the same spot for many years. But, unlike other genres, it doesn’t really bother anyone who’s into this kind of music.

Let’s take the Subterranean Source project by Andrea Belucci. “Ellipsis” is his third outing, the previous ones were released in 2002 and 2008. But in fact, if someone told me that all three albums were released at, say, two-year intervals, I would believe it without any doubts. Ok, maybe the sound is a bit better, but more in terms of nuances, so me – a technical dilettante – can’t really notice these 19 years of difference here. And you know what? I’m grinning like a happy fool while listening to “Ellipsis”

It’s music made by old people for old people. Andrea Bellucci invited several fellow granpas from Italy and Russia to work with, and each of the five songs were written in collaboration with one of them. And who do we find here: Paolo Bandera from Sshe Retina Stimulants, Stielh from New Risen Throne, Giuseppe Verticchio from Nimh, Sergei Suhovik from Exit In Grey and the two gentlemen from Lunar Abyss Deus Organum. Each of them provides his own individual contribution: The hissing, sterile, sharp-edged electronics in “Decadimento Incrementale” is Bandera’s work. New Risen Throne makes the abyss seem even darker, while “Oblivion” created with Exit In Gray breathes the spirit of abandoned Buddhist temples somewhere in the Himalayas (by the way, this track is amazing, probably the best on the album). In “Ocean Chants & Ghosts”, Giuseppe’s wistful guitar sounds take me to the Maui-Covenant (whoever read Dan Simmons’s “Hyperion” gets it). It’s more “deep” than “dark” ambient if you catch these semantic nuances. And finally, Lunar Abyss Deus Organum introduces a bit of atmosphere straight from a surreal deep forest somewhere in Siberia.

Andrea Bellucci puts the whole thing together with his drones that sound like they were made several years ago. However, he does it in such an efficient and effective way that the tracks don’t seem as if taken out of context and at the same time, thanks to the contributions of the guests, each has its own unique character, stands out with some element from the others and is simply recognizable at the first glance of the ear. And this is already a lot in the dark ambient genre.

Will you find something original here? Nope. Does the album work? Hell yes. If dark ambient is going to sound like that in twenty years’ time, I will still be listening to it and I won’t be complaining.

Subterranean SourceEllipsis
Winter Light, WIN 037
CD/Digital 2021

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