Ravenous Dusk is the first of a planned trilogy of albums by Apparition providing soundtracks to ‘fictional’ horror films. You read that right … a series of fictional horror films, as in un-filmed, unwritten, and unperformed.
Apparition’s label, Seance Records, is based out of Australia, but the down under landscape hardly fits Ravenous Dusk, which is pure Victorian-era Transylvania. The album evokes images of tall fir shadows; icy white-capped rivers; and winding forest roads that lead to ancient, medieval castles teeming with sleeping secrets.
Seeing that this is a fictional horror film, many of my assertions about subject matter are of the ‘best guess’ variety. The vampire is named Arkhan, as evidenced in the track titles, “Arkhan Wakes To A New World” and “Arkhan Takes Flight.”
My best guess is that the titular character has been stirred from the endless sleep of the undead and broken loose upon the world. The object of Arkhan’s conflicted affection, again a best guess, would be Ludmilla. The track “Ludmilla’s Dream” suggests Arkhan must decide whether or not to perform the unthinkable deed of drinking her into the world of eternal night.
You’ve seen this movie, right? And if it works for you, it really works.
The songs on Ravenous Dusk bear a clear connection to horror master John Carpenter, though there are far fewer garish, ’80s-defining synthesizers. On a few tracks, all we get are the eerily evocative sound of what’s happening on screen, like that of a horse drawn carriage (“The Last Stand”) or a shovel striking dirt (“The Grave Robbers”). On “Apparition-Fight Or Flight,” listeners get the most fully formed song on the album, featuring a pulsing, tribal beat; layers of scary synthesizers; and a few human voices, male choral grunts that spin me immediately into images of human sacrifice.
Most of what I ended up not liking about the album are the drawn out spaces of minimal sound, such as “The Beginning,” which is seven minute long, but really doesn’t kick into the haunted, organ tones until nearly three minutes in. A similar criticism also applies to “Distant Memories,” where a swirling wind fills the mix for nearly a minute of the run time. “The Dawn Approaches” ends with a dramatic organ crescendo, but the build is far too gradual. It’s not that Apparition has chosen to employ a minimalistic approach on this record. There are places without sound that feel empty.
Considering that this is a soundtrack to essentially a work of imaginary theater, Ravenous Dusk ends up a satisfying listen. While cinema is, as we are all quite aware, a highly visual medium, Apparition has transformed at least this “movie” into an ambient production. This is a mood piece, and will likely only appeal to a small niche audience, but if you’re a fan of old horror or vintage soundtracks, this is must have record for your collection.