I’m a real sucker for cosmic themes in music; from the netherworld of Hawkwind to the tenebrous outer reaches of Obscura, it always adds an extra level of strong ambience and has so much scope and areas of interest that it can, much like the universe, carry on forever.
ISON is the ambient/drone/shoegaze brainchild of Heike Langhans of Draconian fame and Daniel Änghede from the criminally underrated Crippled Black Phoenix. Inner – Space (stream/purchase here) is their first full-length, having released two acclaimed EPs over the past few years, and it is an hour-long trek through the spiritual cosmos via the pumping of the human heart.
The music is mostly gentle, droning, ethereal waves of sound accentuated by synths throughout the record that evolve into real-world instrumentation by the end of the journey – a coming back to earth or returning to the body if you will. One of the biggest highlights is a guest appearance by Neige of Alcest and Lantlôs fame on “Radiant,” a man that has almost single-handedly spearheaded the post-black metal/shoegaze (or “blackgaze”) movement over the past decade. His detached trademark screams linger in the distance, ominous and otherworldly, setting a perfect counterbalance to Heike’s elegant vocal melodies. And speaking of Heike, she has taken her seductive vocals from Draconian and let loose with everything in her range to create truly lush and tender euphony in ISON, adding to the bold sonic tapestry.
Check out the video for “Radiance” (featuring Neige) here:
All the sounds resonate and travel in complete harmony and there is a feeling of inner calm when the album ends, the hour-long playtime neither too long nor causing the listener to lose interest. On the contrary, the further in you listen, the more engrossed you become in the soft grandiosity that ISON has created. To quote the title track: “Wake up… find your way back to the source… if you wake up falling through the universe” – this is heady, introspective, beautiful music, the kind that you treasure in the quiet moments.
The title of the album says it all – this is a dreamy microcosmic voyage through the inner self, a searching inward to see the stars and savour the soul. ISON has easily produced the celestial ambient album of 2019 with Inner – Space, an astral journey that begs to be grasped and experienced. Do not miss out.
Here is the alluring AMV video for “Equals”:
Inner - Space Track Listing:
01. Inner - Space
02. Radiance (Feat. Neige)
06. The Fifth World
07. Everything’s About To Change Forever
08. A Golden Force
Run Time: 62:00 Release Date: September 20, 2019 Record Label: Avantgarde Music