Album Cover

WMRI’s Dark Passage, released by Jamendo in 2009 is a well structured album that does not always rely on the ‘perception’ of sounds to build an atmosphere but creates an electronic backdrop against which dark ambient elements are overlaid. Anyone familiar with WMRI will know they have released a lot of music that comprises classic ‘electronic’ sounds: instrumental electronic ambient melodies. Dark Passage certainly represents a diversion from that trend.

Each track is well crafted. Overall, an authentic dark ambient environment is created. I’m not talking about an atmosphere with a ‘dark’ feeling but a tangible menacing environment. What really helps this stand out is that there is often a rhythm in the background that enhances that feeling of menace. The tracks are heavy and deep with supporting bass sounds that build the soundscape into something nightmarish.

The album begins with Dark Passage I: a series of vocal exhalations that originate from some dark abysmal depth. A pulsing bass synth adds tension as the vocals become extended and tormented. A sound like cracking/falling rocks and alien tech dominate about half way through and then the tormented voices are back. Serious stuff…

Dark Passage II places the listener in the centre of a wet, dank enclosed space. Strange things are flitting around the space, flickering into view for a few moments before disappearing. As it ends there is the distant sound of industrial factories which fade to a low thumping flat bass which introduces the third track. This brings to mind a massive gothic cathedral. Imposing, daunting huge spaces where you fear to think the slightest deviant thought. Almost orchestral, Dark Passage III still retains the menace that has been carried along in its various forms by the previous tracks and crafts another space through which you have to pass.

Dark Passage IV  tips the listener off the edge into something nasty… This is the longest piece at nearly 24 minutes. 24 minutes of echoing sounds with an edgy background buzz that keeps you alert. Two more tracks await your pleasure, but as ever you should discover these for yourselves.

You have to listen to this album with the volume turned UP! One hour and twenty minutes of excellent atmospheric music. A massive surprise from WMRI. Perhaps the reason it is so good is that they deviate from the traditional dark ambient formula that is so prevalent at the moment. They use their experience with ‘traditional’ electronic instruments to create something that, while conforming generally to the dark ambient genre, is different enough to stand out. Also, like Rituelle, you feel as though you have actually passed through these places, there is a sense of journeying. I’ve listened to this several times now and have enjoyed it each time. I hope you do too.