Rituelle by Igor Karaca is a dark ambient album featuring six tracks over 1 hour. This is a cool album because it keeps the same theme alive throughout the performance. Released by Darkwinter, the album is described as an ambient soundscape (and more) allowing the listener to venture into astrophysical phenomena. But it is much more than that.

First of all the album picks you up and drops you somewhere strange. ‘Comfort Zone’ comprises a ritualistic begining showcasing bird song, echoing gongs, and the gradual introduction of other avian sounds. A build up of intermittent dreamy drones overlays this – all lulling you, wrapping you up, carrying you along. A repeating high drone appears as the track continues to build up, then an alarm – a warning. The track gradually becomes darker and darker, reaching a plateau. The ritual has completed and has transported you from a comfortable space to somewhere quite different, but it’s OK, as you have some time to acclimatize yourself…

The title track ‘Rituelle’ incorporates water sounds, piercing tones and low drones that are quickly replaced by a (processed?) voice (I’ve no idea how this sound is achieved so feel free to educate me). Ominous deep synth sounds repeat rhythmically and form the backdrop for a steely atmosphere through which the water begins to flow once again. The sound of the water flowing eventually dries up and prepares you for the next track, ‘Deserts’. The name of this track put me in mind of the trinkets and adornments that you might find on people and beasts of burden – cymbals or small bells accompanied by rising drones that pop you into an area where the sounds are echoing around you. There is even an incoherent chanting, suggesting a temple ritual or similar.

In ‘Reflection’ an industrial dark ambient style comes to the fore. This track definitely conjours strange places in the mind’s eye. For me, the best and darkest track on the album, it becomes heavy and intense – sable ermine to wrap around the ears – before levelling out and settling into a nice slow but steady pace.

Two more tracks transport the listener further into this strange realm. Experience breathy and ominous atmospheres and desolate spaces before the album ends with a final collection of sounds merging and falling apart, rising and falling.

The album works as a whole. Some albums are a collection of tunes and some work to create a single entity and this falls into the latter category. I think Rituelle is something that is best appreciated when listened to in its entirety. Overall, it is a dark affair and several times the music draws your attention and folds you in. The ritual theme is maintained throughout – cymbals, gongs, chanting, the flow of water. It also has a beginning, a middle and an end: you feel as though you have travelled somewhere and that your journey has been an education.