Taking a bit of a break from the black metal and acoustic folk tinged soundscapes of his previous venture, the German composer decided to – quite simply; look to the stars. Stargazer is a twenty minute ambient piece spread out into four chapters, where you’ll want to turn the lights down low and maybe light some incense as you attempt to dive into it. I will forewarn you that as I have stated this is an “ambient” release, there will be no mentions or even so much as a glimpse towards black metal or even rock based music in general. The whole thing is synths and you’ll have to take it or leave it at this point. That’s fine with me, as this came as a bit of an unexpected refreshment, which I will more than gladly walk you through.

The first chapter seems almost a bit eerie, yet it also seems to mimic deep space. There are almost horrific, yet twisting tones that convey an odd sense of wonder – it feels like the kind of atmosphere that one might expect from an uncertain metaworld in the hereafter. The second chapter is much different, almost a bit rustic at first; and I’ll add that it took a little while before it actually caught my attention. The first few notes repeat rhythmically for a full minute, which takes about ten more to really get going. As soon as I was immersed however; my surroundings began to feel uneasy. I didn’t feel as if I was in safe area and had somehow waltzed into alien territory. One might even think of the Giger designed set-pieces from the original Alien films, as well as the xenomorphs themselves – particularly face huggers still yet to be hatched. It felt like I was in a room full of them, maybe even something akin to Darkseed 2, which was also a Giger designed DOS game. (Have you played it?) The third chapter seems to have the same feeling as the last, with the reverberating note seeming to take a little bit of time before I truly felt something. But if we weren’t already in Giger-infested xenomorphic landscapes, then we most certainly are now. Some of this actually feels fit for a game, which shows Skognatt’s incredible ability to perform not only proficient atmospheric black metal with folk touches, but synth pieces that are ripe to exist within the world of gaming. It is my professional opinion that someone’s game is definitely missing what is here labeled as chapter III. The final chapter that we have here is the fourth, which is the longest of them all. It actually seems to feel like more of a film score than anything else on the disc and is the only real piece here that doesn’t feel eerie, frightening, uneasy or gamey. Orchestal nodes seem to billow out from the piece as it continues on, making what almost begins to sound like a sort of sadness. It also feels like that of a traditional classical piece, like the kind you would expect from one of the world’s great composers. It is not out of character to consider this neoclassical in a sense, which is a fantastic way to end a very intriguing little recording as this one.

Although it is short in stature, Stargazer packs the sort of pneumatic punch that most fans of ambient music will be looking for. It’s not an uncommon package for a black metal musician either, seeing as these kinds of synth-based records from black metal acts go back the days of Burzum and Samael. But the question on my mind is as to whether or not this is a slight detour or a sign of things to come for the project as a whole? In Samael’s case, such a work redefined their entire sound into something that isn’t even closely related to their early works. Time will tell if Skognatt decides to go down the same path. I’m all for whatever he decides to release next, regardless.

Purchase the album here.


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