|Cultural origins||mid-1980s, Europe|
|Derivative forms||Dungeon synth|
Dark ambient (referred to as ambient industrial especially in the 1980s) is a genre of post-industrial musicthat features an ominous, dark droning and often gloomy, monumental or catacombal atmosphere, partially with discordant overtones. It shows similarities towards ambient music, a genre that has been cited as a main influence by many dark ambient artists, both conceptually and compositionally. Although mostly electronically generated, dark ambient also includes the sampling of hand-played instruments and semi-acoustic recording procedures, and is strongly related to ritual industrial music.
Ambient music is a genre of music that emphasizes tone and atmosphere over traditional musical structure or rhythm. A form of slow instrumental music, it uses repetitive, but gentle, soothing sound patterns that can be described as sonic wallpaper to complement or alter one’s space and to generate a sense of calmness. The genre is said to evoke an "atmospheric", "visual", or "unobtrusive" quality.
The term dark ambient was coined in the early 1990s by Roger Karmanik to describe the music of Raison d'être and related artists that are heavily associated with the Cold Meat Industry record label.
Raison d'être is a Swedish dark ambient project formed by Peter Andersson. The name of the band was taken from a sentence in a book by Carl Gustav Jung: "the individuation is the raison d’être of the self". Dark ambient atmospheres, drone elements, industrial sounds, ecclesiastical hymns are all blended together to constitute the music of Raison d'être. Deeply influenced by the writings of C.G.Jung, Raison d'être explores the depths of human psyche providing soundtracks for inner voyages towards the Tragic.
Cold Meat Industry was a Swedish independent record label established in 1987, which specialized in niche music genres such as dark ambient, death industrial, and neoclassical dark wave.
Dark ambient has its roots in the 1970s, with the introduction of newer, smaller, and more affordable effects units, synthesizer and sampling technology. Early genre elements can be found on Throbbing Gristle's 1978 album D.o.A: The Third and Final Report of Throbbing Gristle . Important early precursors of the genre were Tangerine Dream's early double-album Zeit (1972), which was unlike most of their subsequent albums in abandoning any notion of rhythm or definable melody in favour of "darkly" sinuous, occasionally disturbing sonics, and also Affenstunde (1970) by fellow krautrock band Popol Vuh.
A synthesizer or synthesiser is an electronic musical instrument that generates audio signals that may be converted to sound. Synthesizers may imitate traditional musical instruments such as piano, flute, vocals, or natural sounds such as ocean waves; or generate novel electronic timbres. They are often played with a musical keyboard, but they can be controlled via a variety of other devices, including music sequencers, instrument controllers, fingerboards, guitar synthesizers, wind controllers, and electronic drums. Synthesizers without built-in controllers are often called sound modules, and are controlled via USB, MIDI or CV/gate using a controller device, often a MIDI keyboard or other controller.
In music, sampling is the reuse of a portion of a sound recording in another recording. Samples may comprise rhythm, melody, speech, or other sounds. They are usually integrated using hardware (samplers) or software such as digital audio workstations.
Throbbing Gristle were an English music and visual arts group, officially formed in September 1975 in Kingston upon Hull by members Genesis P-Orridge, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson and Chris Carter. They are widely regarded as pioneers of industrial music. Evolving from the experimental performance art group COUM Transmissions, Throbbing Gristle made their public debut in October 1976 on COUM exhibition Prostitution, and, the following year, released their debut single, "United / Zyklon B Zombie", followed by an album, The Second Annual Report (1977).
Projects like Lustmord,Nocturnal Emissions, and Zoviet France, evolved out of industrial music during the 1980s, and were some of the earliest artists to create consistently dark ambient music. These artists make use of industrial principles such as noise and shock tactics, but wield these elements with more subtlety. Additionally, ambient industrial often has strong occultist tendencies, with a particular leaning toward magick, as expounded by Aleister Crowley, and chaos magic, often giving the music a ritualistic flavor.
Brian Williams is a Welsh industrial musician, sound designer and film score composer. He is often credited for creating the dark ambient genre with albums recorded under the name Lustmord. His experimental work has been described as "not traditionally 'musical'" with "more clearly visual aspects".
Nocturnal Emissions is a sound art project that has released numerous records and CDs in music styles ranging from electro-acoustic, musique concrète, hybridised beats, sound collage, post-industrial music, ambient and noise music. The sound art has been part of an ongoing multimedia campaign of guerrilla sign ontology utilising video art, film, hypertext and other documents.
Zoviet France is a music group from Newcastle upon Tyne in north east England. While often dissonant and made of industrial textures, their music also falls into the ambient music category. Formed in 1980, and remaining largely anonymous, the group has had a number of members; presently it consists of co-founder Ben Ponton and Mark Warren. Former members included Neil Ramshaw, Peter Jensen, Robin Storey, Lisa Hale, Paolo Di Paolo, Mark Spybey and Andy Eardley. In 2005 Storey, Spybey and Eardley formed a new group, Reformed Faction.
Among the artists who produce ambient industrial/dark ambient are Controlled Bleeding, CTI, Coph Nia, Deutsch Nepal, Hafler Trio, Lustmord, Nocturnal Emissions, PGR, Thomas Köner, Zoviet France,Cabaret Voltaire, SPK, Lab Report, Akira Yamaoka, Robin Rimbaud, Endura, Vidna Obmana, Daniel Menche, Lull, Hwyl Nofio, Hieronymus Bosch, and Final. Many of these artists are eclectic in their output, with much of it falling outside ambient industrial.
Controlled Bleeding is an experimental music group based in Massapequa, New York. The group was founded by Paul Lemos, the group's only consistent member. Most of Controlled Bleeding's released recordings feature two main collaborators, Chris Moriarty and vocalist Joe Papa, who both died in the late 2000s.
Coph Nia is the name given to the dark ambient/ambient industrial act formed by Aldenon Sartorial. Its first release was the album That Which Remains, which was released in 2000 at Cold Meat Industry. The original members were Mikael Aldén (composition), Magnus Baecklund (lyrics), Clara Pahlén, and Aasa Vildblomma (percussion). The three latter members, however, only participated on the first album: That which Remains (2000).
Deutsch Nepal is the solo industrial/dark ambient project of Swede Peter Andersson alias Lina Der Baby Doll General (ex-Njurmännen).
Dark ambient often consists of evolving dissonant harmonies of drones and resonances, low frequency rumbles and machine noises, sometimes supplemented by gongs, percussive rhythms, bullroarers, distorted voices and other found sounds, often processed to the point where the original sample cannot be recognized.For example, entire works may be based on radio telescope recordings (Arecibo Trans-Plutonian Transmissions), the babbling of newborn babies (Nocturnal Emissions Mouths of Babes), or sounds recorded through contact microphones on telegraph wires (e.g. Alan Lamb's Primal Image).
In music, consonance and dissonance are categorizations of simultaneous or successive sounds. Consonance is associated with sweetness, pleasantness, and acceptability; dissonance is associated with harshness, unpleasantness, or unacceptability.
In music, a drone is a harmonic or monophonic effect or accompaniment where a note or chord is continuously sounded throughout most or all of a piece. The word drone is also any part of a musical instrument that is used to produce such an effect, as is the archaic term burden such as a "drone [pipe] of a bagpipe", the pedal point in an organ, or the lowest course of a lute. Α burden is also part of a song that is repeated at the end of each stanza, such as the chorus or refrain.
Rhythm generally means a "movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions". This general meaning of regular recurrence or pattern in time can apply to a wide variety of cyclical natural phenomena having a periodicity or frequency of anything from microseconds to several seconds ; to several minutes or hours, or, at the most extreme, even over many years.
Generally the music tends to evoke a feeling of solitude, melancholy, confinement, and isolation. However, while the theme in the music tends to be "dark" in nature, some artists create more organic soundscapes. Examples of such productions are those of Oöphoi, Alio Die, Mathias Grassow, Tau Ceti, and Klaus Wiese. The Symphonies of the Planets series, a collection of works by Brain/Mind Research inspired by audible-frequency plasma waves recorded by the Voyager unmanned space probes, can also be considered an organic manifestation of dark ambient.
Industrial music is a genre of music which draws on harsh, transgressive or provocative sounds and themes. AllMusic defines industrial music as the "most abrasive and aggressive fusion of rock and electronic music" that was "initially a blend of avant-garde electronics experiments and punk provocation". The term was coined in the mid-1970s with the founding of Industrial Records by members of Throbbing Gristle and Monte Cazazza. While the genre name originated with Throbbing Gristle's emergence in the United Kingdom, concentrations of artists and labels vital to the genre also emerged in America, namely in Chicago.
Industrial Records is a record label established in 1976 by industrial music group and performance artists Throbbing Gristle. The group created the label primarily for self-releases but also signed several other groups and artists. The label gave a name to the industrial music genre.
Electronic body music (EBM) is a genre of electronic music that combines elements of industrial music and synth-punk. It developed in the early 1980s in Germany and Belgium and came to prominence in Belgium at the end of the decade. EBM was generally considered a part of the European new wave and post-punk movement and the first style that blended synthesized sounds with an ecstatic style of dancing.
Coil were an experimental music group, founded in 1982 in London, England and concluded in 2005. Initially envisioned as a solo project by singer and songwriter John Balance while he was in the band Psychic TV, Coil evolved into a full-time project with the addition of artistic creative partner Peter Christopherson, a founding member of Industrial Records and pioneering Industrial music group Throbbing Gristle, who also became Balance's life-partner. Throughout the group's existence, Balance and Christopherson were the only constant members; other members and contributors included Stephen Thrower, Danny Hyde, Drew McDowall, William Breeze, Thighpaulsandra, and Ossian Brown.
Dark wave or darkwave is a music genre that emerged from the new wave and post-punk movement of the late 1970s. Dark wave compositions are largely based on minor key tonality and introspective lyrics, and have been perceived as being dark, romantic, and bleak, with an undertone of sorrow. Common features include the use of chordophones such as electric and acoustic guitar, violin, and piano, as well as electronic instruments such as synthesizer, sampler, and drum machine. The genre embraces a range of styles including cold wave, ethereal wave, gothic rock, neoclassical dark wave, and neofolk.
Drone music, drone-based music, or simply drone, is a minimalist genre that emphasizes the use of sustained sounds, notes, or tone clusters – called drones. It is typically characterized by lengthy audio programs with relatively slight harmonic variations throughout each piece. La Monte Young, one of its 1960s originators, defined it in 2000 as "the sustained tone branch of minimalism".
Pagan rock is music created by adherents of one of the many Neopagan and occult traditions that emerged in the middle to late 20th century. In some cases this definition is stretched to include bands embraced by modern Pagans and occult practitioners. Bands in this genre will often use pagan and occult imagery and deal with pagan themes.
Chris Carter is an English musician, best known for being a synthesist and member of Throbbing Gristle and Chris & Cosey. His longtime partner Cosey Fanni Tutti is the mother of his son, Nick, as well as a member of Throbbing Gristle.
Staalplaat is an independent record label that is located in Amsterdam with a separate store in Berlin. Founded in 1982, the company's mission was to create a sound forum for sound artists, who write and perform new and experimental music.
Soleilmoon Recordings is an American record label that began in 1987 as a cassette label, operating from the back of a record shop called the Ooze in Portland, Oregon, US.
Nigel Ayers is an English multimedia artist.
The Sterile Records record label was formed in London in 1979 by Nigel Ayers and Caroline K of the post-industrial music group Nocturnal Emissions. With a background in the mail art networks, their intention was to create and promote a new form of music. Sterile Records’ approach was a combination of the experiments of musique concrète and Fluxus combined with the critical eye of conceptual art and the spontaneity and energy of punk rock. The dark humour of industrial music and the incomprehensible nonsense of various ultra-leftist political fractions were an essential part of the mix. Sterile Records used both commercial and non-commercial media to deliver anti-capitalist messages, multi-coloured noise and information overload. Growing from cassette culture, output included records and videotapes. Caroline K left the label in 1983. The October 2011 edition of Record Collector magazine published an article about the significance of cassette culture in the UK and listing 21 rare but sought after cassette releases, including "Standard Response".
20 Jazz Funk Greats is the third studio album by British industrial music group Throbbing Gristle, released in December 1979 by the band's label Industrial Records. It is known for its tongue-in-cheek title and artwork, and has been hailed as the band's best work, with UK magazine Fact naming it the best album of the 1970s, and Pitchfork naming it the best industrial album of all time.
Tesco Organisation is a German record label, mail order company and distributor, specialising in industrial, noise, neofolk and ambient music. Tesco has also organised music festivals in the past such as "Heavy Electronics", "Tesco Disco" and "Festival Karlsruhe"
Dark industrial is the marriage of dark ambient music and industrial music. Much like dark ambient, the style is a minimalist soundscape. What separates dark ambient from dark industrial is the harshness. The droning and distorted samples of dark ambient are replaced by waves of static and eerie melodies.