Sataray - Nocturnum [Scry Recordings - 2019]Dark Ambient as a genre often stays with-in itís set rules, but from time to time you get a release that manages to add something new & different to the form- and thatís the case with Nocturnum- the first full-length release from Sataray, after a series of collabs & mini albums
This Olympia, Washington based project started in 2006 and is a female solo venture. Information on Discogs is extremely scarce, so Iím guided by Satarayís Bandcamp. The first release appeared in 2010, and this was a collaborative album with Celadon entitled Mata Utara . The next album appeared four years later- this was once again another collaborative release with Celadon entitled Songs to the Bornless One. On these first two releases, we got quite rhythmic music with a mixture of electronics, gothic touches, ambient and light drone, with a simple song structure and Sataray beautiful vocals. In 2015, the first real solo demo mini-album appeared- Black Door, and it showed Satarayís sound moving into a more dark and droning ambient setting.
In 2019, Sataray released her first full-length solo album Nocturnum on US label Scry Recordings. It appearing in tape, and digital form- both of which are available from the projects Bandcamp or the label's website.
The album cover is a black and white photo, made in a rather abstract style. On a black background, we can see Sataray, standing surrounded by some kind of battens or sticks. This photo is superimposed with the second such image, but with a slightly larger scale, which creates a feeling of movement and blurring. In the upper left corner, the name of the project, Sataray, is written in a grey handwritten beautiful font, and the title of the album, Nocturnum, is written in the lower right corner in the same font. I canít say that I was really taken by the cover- in my opinion, itís seemingly devoid of atmosphere and depth- not really convey the mood and atmosphere of Sataray music.
The album, with a total duration of just under forty minutes, consists of seven tracks, each of which run around the five-minute mark. All of the tracks here are created in the same style, so I will give my impression of the album as a whole. The press release defines this as pure Dark Ambient- but to me, itís not a simple as that. At its core, Sataray style on Nocturnum is drone, at it most classical form. I mean classical Hindustani music, and in particular - raga.
Low droning and meditative music is based on three or five notes that are looped, which is typical of Indian traditional music. Droning soundscapes, backed up with rare, rhythmic low beats, immerse the listener in the depths of the subconscious. A huge role is played by vocal of Sataray. This polyphonic singing, whispers and gnash, very often taking melodic combinations, similar to oriental melodies. By all appearances, Sataray drew inspiration not only from Indian raga, but also from the likes of Diamanda Galas, Dead Can Dance and Aghast.
As I ve mentioned, I do not agree with the simple definition of dark ambience. There is too little "airiness" and space. The sound of the album is very thick, rich and quite clear. The reverb effect that is used on this album gives a metallic hue to the sound, which further underlines this rich droning. The monotony of the compositions is really very meditative and ritual. The vocal lines, along with the droning background, are more similar in style to the Indian vocal raga, called Dhurpad. But It is possible that a listener who is not familiar with traditional Indian music will not hear these analogies.
This is undoubtedly a very strong album, combining originality and a very powerful sound and vocals. For me, there is only one drawback - excessive similarity of the compositions. In the second half of the album, I got a little confused and didn't relize what track I was listening to. But, it is quite possible that for some, this drawback will become the advantage of the album.Sergey Pakhomov