Darkspace- Dark Space –I

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, March 24, 2013

Switzerland’s Darkspace debuted their unique brand of industrial/dark ambient black metal with a demo entitled Dark Space –I back in 2002, and since that time they have been continuing to put together highly experimental material. After three full length albums, last year the group decided to return to this initial demo and completely re-record it. This is the type of release that remains an acquired taste, but listeners who are open to more adventurous material will find a lot to discover as well as a good representation of just where this band started off.

There are common elements between the two songs but Darkspace emphasizes very different elements of their sound on each one. The first track “Dark -1.-1” has been expanded by close to three minutes when compared to the original, and while it starts off with a sparse wave of electronics that hint at the vastness of space it doesn’t take long before the band kicks things up into a dense wall of sound. This number is where the instrumentals take a more traditional black metal route, as the majority of the song uses programmed drums and guitar work to create harsh blasting that continually assaults the listener. But despite the familiar feel, the guitar tonality is what makes Darkspace feel different even during their more traditional moments as the leads head into melodic territory and provide an atmosphere that give off a science fiction/outer space feeling. Electronic elements are present throughout this track but they feel relegated to the background, and it is at this point that the vocals are also at their harshest level. Throughout “Dark -1.-1” there is harsh shrieking and screaming but it’s mixed at a lower level and as a result it becomes another element of the wall of sound, inviting listeners to delve further and discover just how distorted everything really is.

“Dark -1.0” is where more of the industrial/dark ambient elements come into play, and the group chooses to begin the song with a sound clip from Dark City. From there a driving industrial beat keeps things moving forward and the group layers distorted guitar and bass riffs over top of it to create another dense soundscape. Compared to the song that preceded it this piece feels a lot less influenced by black metal, but some of the tonality still has that familiar dissonant feel to it. The vocals also transform on this number, as they have been run through some electronic filters and have a very different feel but once again they have been mixed fairly low and are an element that you really have to specifically pay attention to in order to fully absorb it. Darkspace didn’t add any additional running time to this piece and as a result it’s about the same length as before, but this doesn’t take away from the impact that is created by the desolate soundscapes and pulsing beat.

After exploring both of these tracks multiple times I like them both in their own way, and feel that this release showcases some of the elements that Darkspace would later put together and experiment with further on their later efforts. There’s something about the way this band has merged together desolate science fiction sounding electronics with the harsher bursts of black metal that works quite well, and it was interesting to see these tracks revisited. Newcomers may want to dive into the full length albums first to truly experience how experimental and out there Darkspace can truly get, but established fans and those interested in this combination of genres will find this to be a perfect stopgap that ties together the band’s past and what is still to come.


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