Review Summary: O, e’er in the arms of Morpheus. That lost beauty of immersion.
Shrine is the solo experimental ambient project of Hristo Gospodinov, which blends ambient, acoustic music and field recordings to create an aural experience quite unlike anything I’ve encountered before. Intended as a sonic guide to “low level” lucid dreaming, Shrine’s 2012 album Somnia
is a frightening and beautiful composition to behold. Unaware of the album’s intentions at the time, I played Somnia
in an attempt to cushion my sleep, but was instead sucked into its intense soundscapes and was lost in a state of unrest, unease and found myself ultimately terrified of my surroundings. This was all within the first six minutes of opening track ‘The Grand Design’.
What strikes me first and foremost about Somnia
is its ability to adapt and change depending on context. When I first listened to this I was at my desk, playing it merely as background noise, so as to test the waters, if you will. The second time was the aforementioned sleep experiment gone awry, in which I felt my more barraged by beautiful noise than I was relaxed. The third time I was experiencing the music through my headphones, as I walked busy streets in town. During each of these separate occasions, I heard this in a different way. I was struck with different feelings, senses of engagement and I heard something different each time. Each subsequent listen from those three onward has presented within itself a unique experience, shaping itself around my environment and myself.
What’s on offer here is a truly haunting ambient experience; the subtlety of sounds, the sense of emotion and nostalgia evoked through an array of field recordings and acoustic arrangements. The music, in the right context, can develop nigh on anything through eerie and bone-chilling struggle to benevolent and uplifting within the same arrangement. This is what makes it unique, its ability to blend seamlessly between the foundations of ambient music and its dark ambient sub-genre. The pale rendition of repetition. Concentration and the droning of time, body and atmosphere. Lose yourself within the mists of sounds and palatable depths of creation.