San Diego-based duo ∆AIMON (a.k.a. Brant Showers & Nancy Lutz) have been crafting dark, spooky soundscapes since the release of their 2010 EP Amen, and they've quickly risen to become prominent figures in the so-called “witch house” genre – a loosely-defined field encompassing a wide variety of dark, experimental and ritualistic musical types, usually based on occult themes (the style is even sometimes labeled “zombie rave” to emphasize its horror elements). This band's title falls in line with the genre's tradition of cryptic band handles, employing hieroglyphs, pictograms and Unicode characters that are often resistant to Internet searches, thus preserving an air of mystery and the artists' underground status.
Photo by Geoffrey Smith II
Though their M.O. is predominantly down-tempo IDM built on heavy synth rhythms, ∆AIMON's influences span the entire dark music spectrum, ranging from the classic horror concept albums of Alice Cooper and King Diamond to occult themes frequently explored by extreme metal, as well as industrial, dub and even progressive rock. Their vocal delivery is also heavily horror-inspired, ranging from ghost-girl whispers to eerie robotic chants. The combination of these elements results in some of the spookiest soundscapes ever summoned... but their output is also quite accessible, even if your musical tastes don't dwell exclusively among the macabre. The new self-titled studio album is a sterling example of the pair's genre-jumping skills and wickedly sensual sensibilities, ranking it among the best works in dark electronic music to arrive this year.
∆AIMON departs a bit from the dense, pitch-black ambient textures that dominated their 2012 album Flatliner, focusing more on the rhythmic elements and picking up the tempos. They still play dirty when it comes to production, allowing low-frequency distortion to fill the entire sound spectrum; the bass rumbles that saturate tracks like “Vargtimmen” and "Paræsthesia" will tax your speakers to their limit. The first single "Seraphim" echoes the experimental dance beats of early Skinny Puppy, complete with Showers' vocal similarity to Puppy frontman Kevin “Ogre” Ogilvie, but the delicate melodic choruses sung by Lutz, combined with a weighty piano line, take the piece down an effective gothic path that is sure to score well with club crowds.
Crunchy, overdriven beats and icy synth washes lend an urgent tone to tracks like "Dissolvte," “Low” and "Apostatic," often punctuated by sudden frightening percussive blasts (the latter even employs a recurring sample of a pump shotgun at key moments), while a more melancholy vibe permeates quieter tracks like "Balance" and the returning "Amen” – though even that somber spell is often shattered violently by invasions of glitch, heavy bass and industrial noise, injecting lightning stabs of terror through the dark and heavy ambient clouds. The strongest among these feature deep, haunting piano motifs, most notably "Bruising" and "Exu Rei.”
Photo by Alex Kacha
There's a deep, dark power surging beneath the deceptively calm surface of ∆AIMON's pulsing beats, revealing its frightening face just enough to keep the suspense high, while their heavy, methodical rhythms weave an irresistible spell that just might possess you if you're not careful. As I spun these tracks, a slight sense of danger was always lurking just beneath the surface of my awareness... but in my book, that's a good thing. I highly recommend picking this one up, but proceed with caution – not only because the same dark spell may befall you, but that you might lose yourself in it completely.