“ABBILDUNG – At The Gates Of Ouln”
“They dream our darkest dreams. They are searching for the untold meaning of their own dreams. They are starting to conjure all manner of strange things; demons, fears and chaos in primeval rituals. The mysteries of their realm unveil themselves, as we descend through their mystical gate….”
Abbildung, meaning in German a ‘mapping’ or ‘depiction’, is the dark ambient project of the Transylvanian, Casian Stefan. Stefan has been creating music as Abbildung since circa 2005. But, he’s also, at least equally, known through the community as the owner of the Essentia Mundi record label. While Abbildung has released the majority of their albums through Essentia Mundi, the last two have been on the Winter-Light label. You can check out my 2015 review of the last album All Demons Are Horned here on Terra Relicta.
Whereas All Demons Are Horned took an active and varied direction, diverging greatly in style from track-to-track, At the Gates of Ouln is a much more uniform release. This isn’t to say that it is any less interesting, but the tracks seem to progress in a smoother fashion. When choral male vocals fade into “Astrolatry” it does so almost effortlessly. When there are moments of percussion, again, they manage to stealthily fade into and back out of the mix.
As an active listen, these smooth transitions give you a reason to pay extra attention throughout the album, lest you miss something. For those incorporating this into their passive listening, during reading, meditation or yoga, you will find the album can be placed perfectly in the background. Able to build a full and reverent atmosphere without sacrificing one’s concentration on the task at hand.
I use the word reverent because there is certainly a religious undertone which flows through the album. While the choral vocals being used are likely from a Christian choir, there is no reason to believe that this album should be considered a Christian experience. In fact, any hopes of something like that would be quickly dashed, as the beauty of “Astrolatry” shifts into the much darker and more primal “Hymni Zahir”.
In “Travellers of Eternal Spheres” we again return to the choral vocals, but this time they are obscured at a great distance. It is almost as if they become part of the shimmering drones which flow around and through them. The darkness of “Hymni Zahir” seems to have corrupted the beauty of the previous track, and “Travellers of Eternal Spheres” is then rendered a twisted combination of the two atmospheres. As “Travellers” draws to its close, after the 10 minute mark, we are moving toward a stiller darkness. We are left with some subtle field recordings and an ominous set of notes that corrupt and become the silent darkness.
“Abyme” truly represents the abyss here. Those dark and lonely notes from the previous track return, giving us a continuation of that motif. The field recordings become more subterranean and pronounced. The drones are almost non-existent. As the track proceeds through this dark soundscape, an unsettling high-pitched noise slowly begins to invade the track, gradually increasing in intensity (mind you the note/noise is nowhere near on par with something like death industrial or power electronics or noise ambient, this is a harsher but thoroughly dark ambient experience, and nothing I would really need to warn a sensitive ear against). Once this sort of demon has been abated by the 10 minute mark, we are again lost in the depths of an all-encompassing darkness which fades into total stillness.
I really enjoyed the last Abbildung album in 2015, and it was my first experience with the artist at the time. However, I found that there were only certain times when I could listen to the album and really allow it to shine. At the Gates of Ouln is a much more versatile album for me, and in the short time I’ve owned the CD it has been played at least several times a day, and never once was it found to be out of place, whatever I may have been doing at the time. I, therefore, very highly recommend this one. This is the perfect introduction to Abbildung if you aren’t previously familiar. For those of us familiar with his past works, this could likely be the best yet. Add a beautiful digi-pak presentation from Winter-Light, and there is really no excuse not to pick this one up!
Written by: Michael Barnett/This Is Darkness
“ABBILDUNG – At The Gates Of Ouln” is Abbildung’s second release on the Winter-Light label and the twelfth recording since the start in 2004. This dark ambient project from Sibiu Romania was founded by Casian Stefan. The name Abbildung comes from the picture theory of meaning, expressed by the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Are we aware of the other worlds in our world? The sounds and peregrinations that Abbildung displays on At The gates of Ouin, are unseen journeys in our macro cosmos. The soft and peaceful dark soundscapes resonate like frolic philosophical audio stories. These dense layers of choirs and detailed field recordings are well balanced mysteries of sound architecture.
The tension of this beautiful dark ambient story is slowly building up. With spiritual and haunting choruses Abbildung creates a ravishing twilight of unknown creepy and enchanting worlds. Our favourite track is Travelers Of Eternal Spheres. The deep and emotional soundscapes whisper chilling feelings of blackened and desolated off-worlds. At The Gates Of Ouin is a gateway to a dark and incomprehensible chaos drowned in deep addictive sounds.
After a few listening trips, the echoes of these mind filling soundscapes develop an unearthly transcending mood. These six tracks of classic dark ambient have their own specific style. Abbildung created with At The gates of Ouin a sound theory of interpretation, articulated by its stunning music. This high quality release is available on CD and digital download on the Winter-Light Bandcamp page. Patsker/Merchants Of Air.
“ABBILDUNG – All Demons Are Horned”
The way the name Abbildung is written on the front cover looks like a metal act – the sort of thing I never know what it says upon first reading, hell even more than one reading. I never heard of this musical project of Casian Stefan, whom we best know as label boss of Essentia Mundi, of which we reviewed a couple of releases, none of his own (but from Seetyca and Xedh), of which there are a few of his own. In 2005 he released his first work and ‘All Demons Are Horned’ marks his tenth anniversary. Stefan, who is from Romania, uses field recordings, dark ambience, voices, music and sound sculpting and the latter I guess is the most important thing: sculpting sound from field recording and voices by using means of sampling and electronics. Like before on Winter Light this is music of a highly dark ambient nature. This is one of those releases, which allows me to talk about the finer nuances in the world of dark ambient music. Whereas most releases take some sounds, melt it down to lengthy passages of sustaining sound, making everything a bit more abstract, Abbildung does just that too, but with the addition of his voice, humming and chanting making it sound like a monk in an empty abbey, this is all a bit more ‘gothic’ and less abstract. It has an almost religious atmosphere – that whole church like experience, especially in ‘Usdeno’. Along comes the slightly metallic sounds buried beneath the incantations, and sometimes even rhythm, such as in ‘Anthropocosmos & Dark Aum’ and ‘Srater & Two Sphere’, the latter also with radio signals from out space. These two pieces are distinctly different from the previous three more drone like excursions before that and the two that conclude this release. That makes this album more like a trip, going from the country-side into the abyss, to a place where people after church and then back outside again – even when no field recording is easily recognized around here. For me it’s the variety on offer, which makes this is a most enjoyable release. Any such ‘gothic’ element is kept to a minimum, not more than is necessary and it’s spiced up with enough other interests. Quite a good release in a world that already has a lot of this music and where it’s not easy to find your own voice. For Abbildung the variety of music is the difference. (FdW)
“ABBILDUNG – Two-Sphere Geometry”: by Remco / Gothtronic (c) 2008
Within two spheres colours get brighter as they get across prisms where light falls apart in kaleidoscopic pieces piercing the endless spheres form chaos to equilibrium. Bright sounds filling the void with archetypal elements of original ambient music, spacious and enigmatic. With vastness we travel the galactic and find the terrestrial beings in spiral geometric waves. Take the challenge and take a ride with Abbildung through the Two-Sphere geometry. Ambient music with roots going back to the seventies with acts such as Tangerine Dream. Dark atmospheres and New Age elements are varying in the different tracks making Two- Sphere Geometry into an interesting album not only for the dark crowd but also for people who are more into new age or the electronic side of kraut.
With slow pulsing drones and clattering metal the Dark Pole is Rising from a faraway corner of the universe. Low end humming is cleaving the galaxy with a dark atmosphere. A slow melancholic melody is growing into a spacious whole in the night sky with a sinister feel. “Dark Pole Rising” is a fine opener with swelling and structured ambient sounds making me curious for more.
“Outside the Sphere” is a much lighter track, melodic and rhythmic with an almost popular sound. This track is more toward the technoid side of the ambient genre. “Vastness, Alone” is penetrating the universe, travelling the spheres with tinkling and slow shifting spacious tones creating a vague melody with melancholic feel. Universe or deep, deep ocean with vivid life forms. Sinking away deeper into the unknown.
Two-Sphere Geometry has much diversity and is a dynamic album filled with evolving melodies, deep pulses and spacious sounds filling the room like a carpet or a warm blanket making sultry. Every move in these compositions seem well considered and are on the right spot making this into a perfectly balanced recording taking hold of the attention the whole time taking you to different spheres. However the many differences I have to think about the Selected Ambient Works by Aphex Twin for having a quiet similar warm sound making this into an excellent album for hot summer nights gazing the sky. This album is like the heavy breathing of the universe getting wider every breath resonating the stars and trembling the solar systems, the heavy cavernous sounds are slowly transported through the endless wideness with a deep rumble. Hear how the sun moves while rising up in the morning sky.
Starting with smooth guitar tones “Through the Singularity” crackling the universe borders like glass. The atmosphere in this album has become light now with the mellow melody of “I am (Orbiting)”. Ending this album with “Drone of the Spheres” I can only say; Two-Sphere Geometry is an extraordinary album which deserves more attention and there fore it is a pity that there are only 100 made and one of those will find its way to my CD player frequently.
“ABBILDUNG – Two-Sphere Geometry”: by Sebastian Huhn / Reflections Of Darkness (c) 2008
The only clear thing about this ambient project is that it actually exists and was founded by the mysterious Casian. The ideology of ABBILDUNG, therefore is as detailed as it can get. ABBILDUNG approaches a clear distinction between what it shows (music) and what it expresses (ideology). ABBILDUNG defies the ambiguous tries to wordy and logically define music itself and its experience.
‘Two-Sphere Geometry’ is not the first release of ABBILDUNG. The earliest release dates back to the year 2005 and is called ‘Dunkles wissenschaftliches Sachverhalten’, but this is about the newest opus and so we start our journey into the ‘Two-Sphere Geometry’ now with ‘Dark Pole Rising’, a seemingly shapeless dream entity, but the first look or listen is deceiving. There’s a form after all, you just have to reveal it. Dark and deep drones guide us into unknown spheres of limitless vastness, whereas indefinable noises and sounds take shape to get lost in the blackness of space forever, where suddenly distant melodies are born and cymbals distract our attention for a short moment. The feeling of being weightless takes control of us in ‘Outside the Sphere’ we’re getting drawn through a long tunnel, harbouring steady-paced drum patterns, which disappear when we reach the gates and for the first time witness the unbelievable height of the spheres. Another feeling starts to spread from within as the first tones of ‘Vastness, Alone’ reach my Ears. The feeling to be the only living being, left on a deserted and devastated planet and I start to explore the lonely streets and only find fragments of a better past long gone. The ‘Decreasing Entropy Attractor’ tears me out of my lethargy as crystalline drum beats emerge amidst ghostly sounding synth layers pairing each other and create a whole new sound structure out of it.
The ‘Call of The Hyperspheres’ is approaching and with it the longest track with duration of over 14 minutes. It’s like a living, breathing creatures we have the chance to accompany through its countless stages of evolution, encompassed by a soundtrack of the most intriguing, tones, melodies and drones you can imagine. ‘Through The Singularity’ throws acoustic; as well as long-release e-Guitar lines into the mix, melting with the breathtaking beauty of haunting ambient layers. When you’re closing your eyes, when ‘I am (Orbitting)’ arises, you’ll soon find yourself drifting weightlessly over a planet, which Is making its way on a predestined course through the universe, imbued with tiny melody fragments that appear to jump from one note to the next. The ‘Droning of The Spheres’ puts me in a state of slight unease; it arouses the feeling of a threat that is slowly drawing closer, we can’t do anything against. Additionally a DVD is included with a video called ‘Two-Sphere World’ which proves to be a visual extension to the album theme, showing grainy footage with Cosmonauts (Only a presumption, because it’s not clearly recognizable) together with burning suns and icy landscapes.
‘Two-Sphere Geometry’ surely is one of the best productions of the ambient genre, I’ve heard this year. Every sound is crystal clear and the atmosphere of the individual tracks reaches far beyond the usual borders and captivates the listener. The video clip link the audio to a visual component.
“ABBILDUNG – Two-Sphere Geometry”: by neon_suntan / Heathen Harvest (c) 2008
The spatial glaciers of Abbildung’s album Two Sphere Geometry are complimented by the short-film also included in the release. The Music Promo was by Abbildung’s composer ‘C’ comprises a single video titled “Two Sphere World”, where grainy black and white footage of what might well be Cosmonauts in training is interspersed with burning suns giving way to glacial landscapes and crude black and white video graphics of a [the second?] sphere. The album itself delivers exactly what one would expect, in the very best way – think of Tangerine Dream live in the 70’s when they were at their most ambient, coupled with Lustmord’s ambient bass menace and you’ll get a feel of the spaces that Abbildung’s creator ‘C’ is forging in his laboratory deep inside Essentia Mundi http://www.essentiamundi.com. Drones rise and fall faint skittering beats almost threaten to become Hawtin-esque techno but then glissando cymbals soothe the sound elsewhere. Meticulous samples of American voices from what might be an instructional film, enhance the sense of alienation, while the eerie distant rumbles hint at the Pete Namlook’s ultra-minimal album ‘Flights’, and the general ambience implies Vangelis’ [Bootleg] Blade Runner soundscapes. Occasional half-whispered mutterings in the distance help to keep the feeling of dislocation, while other sounds imply the flowing passage of dark and vast shapes. ‘C’ has followed hidden key to all head-music albums and moves the music from contrast to contrast throughout its eight tracks of expansive, geometrical inspiration. The expansive ambient rumbles will give fans of Biosphere much to celebrate too while those who complain about ambient albums often having “a lack of direction” will find the slow evolving of sound through the eight tracks here breath of fresh air. The production quality is also pin-sharp without the over-presence in some ‘more amateur’ releases. Overall the album and movie are superb, the solitary complaint is the brevity of the DVD, an hour long video to accompany the album would have been most welcome. . . but nothing is perfect. For lovers of all ambient music, especially those wanting a darker shade to their dreams, this is a highly recommended release. More please!
on “Fractaled – Moments Of Order”: by Ikecht – Leon Vlieger (c) 2007
With “Moments Of Order” Fractaled presents a concept album on the birth of the universe (I think titles as “Near Planck Time” and “Quark-Gluon Plasma” speak for themselves). This results in cold, noisy and spacey dark ambient (Inade would be a good point of reference, I think). The palette of sounds ranges from very dark (“Quark-Gluon Plasma” and “Ionized Universe”) to nearly new-age-esque frail (the closing track “Carbon”, which portrays the development of carbon-based lifeforms).[…]
on “Fractaled – Moments Of Order”: by Larry Johnson (c) 2007
Dark Winter has the courtesy of placing an asterisk beside tracks on its releases that “denotes recommended listening.” For this particular virtual long-player, however, it would have been more efficient to place the asterisk beside the .ZIP file for “Moments of Order” – that’s how strong of a release it is. Difficult to summarize in just a few words, but the rather ambiguous phrase “densely spacious dark ambient noise” comes close.
A blend of several influences – isolationist deepness, ambient darkness, cacophonous noise – while listening to “Moments of Order” you can take a humbling aural walk down an immeasurable corridor of vaporous sounds, let a blanket of spacious ambiance envelope you, listen in awe as rolling waves of dissonant noise crash around you, or even get a sense of that primeval soup of sub-atomic particles that sparked birth of the universe.
What sound/emotions is it that you want? Here’s the prescription: Something noisy and humbling – “Near Planck Time” or “Photon Decoupling” ; Something deep and primitive – “Primordial Nucleosynthesis” or “Two Billion Years” or “Carbon” ; Something dark and disquieting – “Quark-Gluon Plasma” or “Ionized Universe” ; Something harsh and powerful – “Electromagnetic Radiation”.
on “Fractaled – Moments Of Order”: It is rare for me to change my mind on an album rating even between the first and second listen. “Moments of Order” is an exception. Initially, I found this virtual album to be engaging but rather hard work. All of the tracks seemed interesting enough but none of them really worked for me.
So I tried again a couple of days later and was rewarded with a much richer listening experience. This time I just sat back and allowed the swathes of dark ambient noise to envelop me amid all of the violent interruptions that characterise several of these pieces. The first five tracks – each of them adequate enough in their own right – seem to act as an extended prelude before the main body of the work emerges in the final three tracks: “Photon Decoupling”, my favourite number, followed by the slow, unwinding “Two Billion Years” which provides some of the calmer, more ambient moments on the album before the violence returns on the final track “Carbon”.
“Moments of Order” is an outstanding advert for the Dark Winter label and can be downloaded for free from their website: www.darkwinter.com
on “ABBILDUNG – Dunkles Wissenschaftliches Sachverhalten”: “… Not that Abbildung is a selfish exercise drip-fed to an unaware audience, it is rather C. has given much thought to ideology and spiritual science and does not wish it to be misappropriated or coloured by the personal belief structures of others. […] Each track phases sequential episodes, spawning at times neon fulguration and prolonged arid time and space all gravitating to the umbilical cord leading to the source; a null infinitum from which everything began and to which everything returns to… ” Heathen Harvest magazine (EN).
on “ABBILDUNG – Dunkles Wissenschaftliches Sachverhalten”: “… The end result is a unique brooding atmosphere that hints at his professed influences (Lustmord, Bad Sector) whilst remaining his own distinctive creation. Conclusive proof that even the little guy with a CD-R and laser printed cover can produce music capable of holding its own against the bigger post-industrial artists. ” Chronicles Of Chaos magazine (EN).
on “ABBILDUNG – Dunkles Wissenschaftliches Sachverhalten”: “… m-a surprins placut, nu neaparat prin muzica abordata, ci conceptual […] Dark Ambient-ul lui C. este unul introspectiv, in genul celor de la Cold Meat Industry, cu un reper indepartat COPH NIA, destul de straniu si simplist, nu din punct de vedere al efectelor ci, ca structura compozitionala […] Dati un click pe www.abbildung.ro si veti calatori cel putin o jumatate de ora intr-o altfel de lume, nu neaparat mai intunecata, ci iesita din cotidian. Si nu uitati sa aveti totusi in casti si acest CD.” Kogaionon magazine (RO).
on “ABBILDUNG – Dunkles Wissenschaftliches Sachverhalten”: “… Moreover, the originality is and is marked, and says without problems that Abbildung is worth as any projects of dark ambient of Cold Meat Ind. label […] we can expect that Abbildung will be one of the names of top of atmospheric and claustrofobic music in the times to come.” Crypta Nivis magazine (IT)
on “ABBILDUNG – Dunkles Wissenschaftliches Sachverhalten”: “Till now Romania celebrated no exceptional projects on dark ambient […], all gloomy admirers, should find something magic in music rhythms of ABBILDUNG. Surely a project of dignified interest.” Beast Of Prey magazine (PL)
on forthcoming “ABBILDUNG vs. Kenji Siratori – The meaning of Word is Sound”: in “Revista Sunete” RO, Noiembrie 2006: “… un proiect ambitios, punctul de plecare constituindu-l insasi Wittgenstein si modul lui de a trata erorile acumulate de limbaj si sens. Gasesc interesant faptul ca Abbildung incearca sa disocieze tipul de coverart mistico-ezoteric de dark ambient-ul pagan traditional, legandu-l cu o zona “stiintifica” care recurge la mecanica cuantica, teoria fractalilor si care se vrea opusa existentialismului, religiei sau esteticii. Pe site gasiti “Fractal Reverse Side” – un track ambient eteric prin care razbat in surdina vociferarile claustrate ale lui Kenji Siratori.” by ST *.
on forthcoming “ABBILDUNG – A Natural Sense Of Balance”: written news on “Renasterea Banateana” journal in 03.06.06 in RO.