Yen Pox - Between the Horizon and the Abyss [Malignant Records - 2015]Not being known for their prolific output, Yen Pox instead has chosen to make a career out of sparse releases that resonate deeply within the community. Between the Horizon and the Abyss marks their first full length in fifteen years, and, for the patient, the wait was well worth it. Legends in the dark ambient genre, Yen Pox's latest builds on genre standards and expands into uncharted territories in time and space.
Low bass opens up the listener's eyes to the stark alien landscape on the aptly titled opener, "The Awakening." Slowly reverberating in the background, this bass forms a centerpiece from which all forthcoming sounds originate. Like emanations from celestial beings out of sight or some communiqué from an alien race, the stray mids and highs come at the listener with enough unpredictability in tone and force to foster malaise. Summoning an almost Skullflower vibe on the beginning of "White of the Eye," but shifting quickly to creepy, spacey industrial tones, this one gets under the skin quickly and makes it known that it isn't leaving for a long time to come. Noise and chaos ensue before lightening into a beautiful show of the universe opening itself like the near infinite number of flowers that have poured forth from its essence. Deep and throbbing, the listener emerges from slumber to experience the "Cold Summer Sun." Clanging and shaking, the noise level grows as one walks among metallic, alien flora. The cries of horrible creatures echo in the distance as the listener fully envisions this disturbing new world. Hoping to catch some respite "In Silent Fields," pained synths voice the thoughts of those who have come before. Like The Dead Marshes, there are tales to be told and lives to be taken. Tread carefully, as this haunting place is not to be taken lightly. Off in the distance, some brave (crazy?) souls are preparing a "Grief Ritual" to summon up their fallen brethren. The chthonic lows play against the eerie highs in a Lovecraftian rite, while drones wind past with grim coldness. As the ritual becomes realized, "Ashen Shroud" adds a calming vocal synth drone. Gaining some comfort from the alien atmosphere, the listener is allowed some room to breathe before getting his chest pressed upon by the incubus-like beginning of "Tommorow In Ruins." Lightening and allowed to grow, "Tomorrow" thickens back up and adds layer upon layer of enticing drones to the mix. It finally breaks and fades out in glorious fashion. The tale isn't over, though, as "The Procession" brings back all the alien terror that was brought forth earlier. Heavy and grim, one can hear what sounds like otherworldly vocals tucked in the dense, slowly moving drones. Low and dark, this machine ritual has come to fruition, and the future for the traveler is bleak at best.
Yen Pox may have gone fifteen years in between full lengths, but the end product will not disappoint. Between the Horizon and the Abyss is a thick and supremely engaging piece of dark ambient rife with industrial tinges and otherworldy terror. A perfect soundscape for a cold, quickly darkening fall, this one will get many, many replays.Paul Casey