Goatpsalm and Horthodox, both of these Russian bands haunt the obfuscated realm of ambient music. Now not the kind you want to have playing in the elevator. Except maybe if you expect it to drop down in a fatal chute any second now. Neither is ‘Ash’ the traditional split where two bands each deliver a separate set of songs. It is rather a collaboration between two artists. On this occasion the common link between the both of them is the mysteriously monikered Horth who is an integral part of both acts.
Where Goatpsalm’s own work could be described as a less organic version of the likes of Wardruna or Heilung with strong pagan overtones without ever really going into folk territory, this collaboration takes a decidedly different approach. The first few compositions would not be out of place on the soundtrack for a horror game, preferring spooky sound effects over actual song structure. To such an extent actually that you could challenge the notion of this actually being music at all.
Regardless of the fact how you want to label this, it is without question a deeply unsettling listening experience. Where ambient is usually easy listening, soothing music, this is exactly the opposite, a pretty nightmarish opposite. Reviewing singular songs does not make much sense as such, but you can notice a progression from the first half of the album where it focuses really on scary soundscapes with for instance cinematic scene of footsteps approaching. As the album moves across its own span you begin to hear more conventional structures and actual instruments.
This second half is definitely more captivating, although it remains a trying experience of noisy atmospherics. Even for fans of Goatspsalm’s previous works like ‘Downstream’ this far less accessible collaboration here will come as quite an unexpected shock to the ears.
For adventurous, patient souls only.