Review Summary: From the dark ambience of a science-fiction horror, to the cinematic sounds of a blockbuster on it's opening scenes, Somnus is a brilliant new album from the artist Phaeleh.
Out of seemingly nowhere, Matt Preston (aka, Phaeleh) released the album 'Somnus' for free which featured ambient tracks from a recent ID slumber session mix, and a few others made over the last 10 years. The album cover features a terrascape with a geometric effect over the top which, although not exactly original, in my opinion suits the album perfectly.
An initial mystery to me was the track titles, labelled 'One' to 'Eleven' in consecutive order, but that doesn't change anything of the audible sense.
In this review, I will rate and review each song independently, giving my final thoughts at the end.
: This one starts off with the sound of wind and rain, before a melodic tune comes in with faint voices. After about the minute mark, a dark ambience gradually appears and the voices fade away. The original melody makes its way in again near the end and finishes on a slightly lighter note. An amazing introduction to the album. 5/5
: Two is a slow, basic tune with great atmosphere. Around the 2 minute mark, subtle wind chimes work their way in and gradually get more potent as the song goes on. Two lasts only slightly longer than One, and is nearly as good 4.5/5
: Three is a much lighter and uplifting song compared to it's predecessors. It has this dreamy feeling to it, with its piano-like tones alternating between speakers and this basic melody in the background. 3.5/5
: One of the most cinematic sounding songs in the album, Four reminds my of something you're likely to hear at the start of a blockbuster about a Sci-Fi or Fantasy flick. It's almost enchanting. 4.5/5
: Five starts off almost sounding sinister, with pulsating dark tunes and a demonic-sounding voice giving a coughing-like sound for a couple of seconds a time. Around the 1 minutes mark a lighter, more cinematic tune works its way in to accompany the dark ambience and the voice. It reminds of something from a dark science fiction film, such as Alien; or another film where you have a shuttle moving through space. One of my favourite songs on the album. 5/5
: I can imagine standing on top of a cliff at the beginning of this with the winds blowing against me. A slow ambience comes in. At the around the 3 minute mark, it fades out - then comes in again with a very cinematic feel to it. 4/5
: Seven starts off with the impression what it's going to be a loud or another dark one, but suddenly turns into a steady, quiet tune. I can't really put my finger on this one. It's one of the the longest songs on the album (at just over 7 minutes) and reminds me of something from Aphex Twin's second Selected Ambient Works album. It has this odd effect where it will fade out, then come in again and repeats this throughout the song. A very nice song, but a bit too long for my taste. 3/5
: This is a lovely tune. You get extremely faint sounds of voices and rain behind one of the most beautiful songs on the album. 4.5/5
: A very short piece, reaching at just over 1 minute, which features a basic piano chord. 3.5/5
: Ten starts of with the gradual rise of a melodic tune and some crackling before it picks up to get this pulsating ambience which reminds me, again, of Aphex Twin. Just over the 1 minute mark, you get this amazing chord progression accompanied by small sounds which I can only describe as something you'd hear in a retro sci-fi game. It's an unexpected, but brilliant mix. Another one of my favourites. 5/5
: For the first minute or so, all you can hear is faint crackling before it really gets weird. You get random sounds of static, echoing ambience and radio noise. At around the 5 minute mark, you get the sound of what i can only describe as satellite feedback which gets distorted and turns into wind chimes when everything fades out and back into the crackling - which itself fades out. A very interesting selection of sounds, but very long. 3.5/5
Overall, this song is one of the best ambient albums I have heard in a long time. Unlike Phaeleh's other LP's, it features no direct vocals whatsoever and I'm glad. Vocals wouldn't do this album any justice.
It's a brilliant addition to Phaeleh's discography and definitely one of my favourites from him. 4.5/5