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Darkfloor 42 – Northumbria – Ambient Metal

Northumbria return, fresh from recording a wonderful guest mix for Mantis Radio 162, with a specially curated all Canadian mix by the ambient metal duo’s Dorian Williamson. As he writes, it’s a very personal selection of tracks.

Darkfloor Sound · Darkfloor 42 – Northumbria – Ambient Metal

Dirty Inputs – Oberon/Overture [Retronym]
C.Diab – Awake, Little Creatures [C.Diab]
Polmo Polpo – Romeo Heart [Constellation Records]
Thisquietarmy – Black Haunters [Elevation Records]
Aidan Baker – Lost In The Rat Maze [ConSouling Sounds]
Whisper Room – 1 [Broken Spine Productions]
dreamSTATE vs. Heiki – Snow Drifter [Paper+Sound]
SOLVENT – Pattern Recognition [Suction Records]
Pulsewidth – Crest #1 [unreleased]
Aun – Fortress Two [Cyclic Law]
Black Walls – Funeral/Wake [Pleasence Records]

So as I was putting this playlist together I found a note my late Gran had written to me quite a few years back. It caused a flood of memories and emotions, and kind of caused my In Session mix to take a turn away from pure experimentalism to music that has more of an emotional aspect, namely sadness and loss. It’s still a totally Canadian playlist.

There’s many really cool artists making ambient and experimental music, although it’s not specifically a genre that we’re well know for save the obvious bands. Some of these artists I’ve know for a long time, others are more recent discoveries through Weird Canada’s Drone Day and AUX.TV’s recent survey of ambient music in Canada, which Northumbria was honoured to be a part of.

Dirty Inputs – Oberon/Overture
This felt like a natural opening piece, the grand synthscapes of Toronto band Dirty Inputs. Aaron Dawson makes music very much in the vein of the late 70’s prog influenced electronic music such as Tomita, Tangerine Dream and Vangelis. This track opens his classically inspired Oberon EP, released earlier this year. Retronym.

C.Diab – Awake, Little Creatures
An air raid siren blends seamlessly into this apocalyptic drone of guitars and strings, with just enough dissonance to balance the subtle melody, and enough movement and change to keep it evolving. C.Diab.

Polmo Polpo – Romeo Heart
Sandro Perri performs solo as Polmo Polpo. This track, Romeo Heart, is my favourite piece of music by him. It’s a good example of organic elements like string and guitar mixing perfectly with the huge swelling synthesized loops. Such a sad but beautiful song, and full on sonic ambient that invades the space completely. Constellation Records.

Thisquietarmy – Black Haunters
TQA is a one-man post-rock/drone artist, who also runs the label TQA Records out of Montreal. Eric and I have known each other for a long time. – he released the début recording by Northumbria in 2012. This track reveals his mastery of brooding and intense dark ambient, with undertones of black metal vibes and industrial sensibilities. Elevation Records.

Aidan Baker – Lost In The Rat Maze
Aidan is a musical force in this country, and a good friend. This is one of his more restrained, but still immensely heavy ambient pieces. He also performs as Nadja (with Leah Buchareff) and Adoran (with me on Bass). Released by ConSouling Sounds out of Belgium who are releasing the next Northumbria full-length, Bring Down the Sky, this November. ConSouling Sounds.

Whisper Room – 1
Another act featuring Aidan Baker on guitar, Jakob Thieson on drums and Neil Wiernik on bass. Much like Northumbria, Whisper room is full improvised live ambient with no overdubs. I love the raw interaction and density they create. One of my favourite trio’s at the moment. Broken Spine Productions.

dreamSTATE vs. Heiki – Snow Drifter
More traditional drone/ambient but masterfully executed by true veterans of the Toronto ambient field. dreamSTATE run the longest standing electronic night in Toronto – The Ambient Ping. I love how this track evokes the vast space of the Canadian North. Paper+Sound.

SOLVENT – Pattern Recognition
Jason Solvent, who performs as SOLVENT, created the documentary on modular synthesizers I Dream of Wires. This track is from that soundtrack, and made using his extensive array of modular synths. He also runs the label Suction Records. The analog arpeggio reminds me of the early days of electronic music and Kraut. Simple, beautiful and slightly melancholy melody that breaks ups the dense drones in the playlist. Suction Records.

Pulsewidth – Crest #1
Pulswidth created this minimalistic drone piece specifically for this session, and I couldn’t be happier. It has such a dark tone, and says so much with so little. Toronto based. Unreleased.

Aun – Fortress Two
Montreal’s Aun are mainstays of the Canadian psych/noise/drone scene, this track is from a sampler Cyclic Law released last year. Cyclic Law.

Black Walls – Funeral/Wake
Black Walls Ken Reaume creates an eerie hybrid of a wide variety of genres, which is naturally synthesizes into some of the most poignant and moving ambient doom I’ve heard in a long time. Based out of Toronto and frequently found playing shows to well impressed audiences. This track was the perfect closer for the session – innovative, ambient and deeply emotional. Pleasance Records.


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