In the land where wicked Hecate looms over the witches of the woodlands comes a band that taps into the mystical magic of their motherland. They produce a sinister sound that entrances the listener and tempts them to embrace the beckoning calls of this Greek Goddess. Dark Awake has been releasing ambient music for over 10 years now, and their latest EP, “Imago Typhonis” is a continuance of their neo-folk, apocalyptic orchestrations.
“Imago Typhonis” is a small sample of the ability of Dark Awake to transport the listener into the magical world of conceptual artist Shelmerdine. This 2016 release is their 8th CD brought to us from Frozen Light and Wolfmond Records. This CD features 3 songs, a cover of “I Am The Black Wizards” from the Norwegian black metal band Emperor. There is a 17-minute song about Typhonian Witchcraft which actually uses human bones as instruments. And, there is a cover song from Northland Tradition, “Herr Mannelig,” a medieval-style Swedish ballad that tells the story of a female mountain troll who proposes marriage to a knight.
My personal favorite of the three songs on this release is the first track. “I Am The Black Wizards.” The lightning-fast Emperor song has cleverly been converted into a soothing orchestral work focusing on the keyboard melody as the basis of the piece. The screeching black metal vocals of Ihsahn are replaced by the incantations of Sekte, and the thunderous drumming of the original version has been replaced by a haunting percussion score featuring a timpani and cymbal. The overall mood of the piece still resonates with the original composition, but Dark Awake has taken “I Am The Black Wizards” to a whole new realm of darkness.
The second track is the title track, “Imago Typhonis”. The song starts with a hook performed on an acoustic guitar outlining the melody of this piece. The atmosphere then shifts into a darker mood when whispering winds give way to ritualistic drumming. The melody is then heard again played on a harpsichord. Winds once again transition the sounds of another guitar, flutes, incantations and further haunting sounds that completely enchant the listener under Dark Awake’s spell.
Track 3 is an interesting interpretation of the ballad, “Herr Mannelig.” The gloomy orchestrations are a combination of both electronic and acoustic instruments which have become Dark Awake’s trademark sound. There have been many artists who have recorded their own rendition of this ballad, but Dark Awake’s version is by far my favorite. Their approach to this piece evokes a darker mood than the commonly heard orchestration, utilizing booming percussion, droning keyboard sounds, and most notably the lack of vocals.