insectarium / Omensworn / Rojinski

Album Title: 
Assembly Of Specters
Release Date: 
Friday, February 3, 2023
Review Type: 

I will keep it short, yet I just needed to do this: writing down my thoughts on this split-album. Why? Because of the great Music and since it includes three projects that are sort of crawling out of the pits of oblivion lately. I know that they are planning more collaborative works in the future, but this one offers the audience three exclusive compositions by each artist involved: Insectarium (or ‘insectarium’, without the capital ‘I’) from Illinois (U.S.), Rojinski from somewhere in the dimension called Space, and Omensworn (Idaho, U.S.). All three of them are one-man outfits that did surprise me (and many others, I am sure) with several hands full of amazing releases in the recent past.

Unlike many splits, this one is not divided into ‘part a’ by collaborator x, ‘part b’ by the next artist, and so on. No, the nine tracks are sort of ‘mingled’; I mean, you first have one by Insectarium, followed by Rojinski’s first contribution, and then the first piece by Omensworn. And then it gets repeated in this order. But to keep it easy, I’ll focus on the three artists with their compositions, instead of hopping over and over again. This said…

The three-way split is called Assembly Of Specters, and that moniker may count as their official collaboration too. I mean, ‘Assembly Of Specters’ has its own Bandcamp-page, which sort of tells me that there is more to come; or is it the hope of a fool, the fool that I am…

Tracks one, four and seven (bah, this sounds so disrespectful, but I do not intend to be irreverent, of course) are created by American musician insectarium, curated by Joel Hinkle. For quite some time – and then I am talking about decades through time and space – he records and releases Ambient-oriented material under his own name and as insectarium, always ‘meant to take the listener on a journey’. His contribution on this (first but not last?) Assembly-album consists of The Ecstasy Of Communion, Manual Sin Removal and Becoming Part Of The Stonework. The Ecstasy Of Communion (10:30) opens extremely oppressive, with an almost asphyxiating drone-wave, subtly injected by mesmerizing synth-textures, additional chimes and bells (giving the whole a sense of ceremonial drama), and ritualistic sounds. Vocal samples to are modestly woven into the whole adventure. Slowly, very slowly, things evolve, climbing up through the vast emptiness of an unexplored dimension, yet the whole of the time this composition maintains that hypnotic character. As from half of the piece, things turn little harsher, with a slight touch of industrial elusiveness. Manual Sin Removal (06:31) sounds little more ethereal and astral; harrowing and horrific too. This piece comes with an execution more intense and Lovecraftian, if you want to, by penetrating the long-stretched and multi-layered keyboard-lines with strange field-recorded additions. Besides, the droning sound-structures have something sacral, something monastery / dungeon-like, strengthening both the ethereal and the horrifying aspects I just mentioned. Becoming Part Of The Stonework (07:24) is more experimental than both other hymns, for it does include a finicking yet remarkable amalgam of field recordings, noises and manipulations. Samples and different percussions, metallic notes and reverberating rumbles enrich the dense, heavy-weighted approach.

Omensworn, also from the U.S., yet from the other side (the West), is not an unknown name anymore since a couple of years within the Dark Ambient community, as a ‘fragmentary gaze into the cold unknown, the nameless, and the consternation of existence’. He too comes with three lengthy compositions, created for this collaboration exclusively: Eyes Of Poison, Toungs [sic] Of Curse, Dismal Tedium and Blood And Loathing In The Wash Basin. The first opus, Eyes Of Poison, Toungs Of Curse (07:04) brings forth the characteristic approach of this outfit, by offering a well of mesmeric vibrations and haunting designs. Labyrinthian and dreamlike passages mingle with diaphanous and unphysical elegance, by transporting chimerical eminence into gloomy waves-of-sound. Then again, Dismal Tedium (06:56) touches, and caresses, more sombre aural territories of gloom and emotion. The spoken-word sample at the beginning immediately creates a sense of Doom, and when the synth-scapes join with that crestfallen frame of mind, woe and introversion weave a soft yet somewhat claustrophobic web of perpetual perception beyond oblivion. For what it’s worth, but Subscribers Of Death (Nights Amore) somehow comes to (my) mind. Blood And Loathing In The Wash Basin (11:26) focuses on bleakness and shiver, combining icy floats of ambience with weird, unusual sampling, once again fortifying the ominous atmosphere. Seen the length of this epic, the whole gets veiled in an immense spectral nebula, and at the same time within a doleful minimalism, filled with melancholy, escapism and perturbation. Ah, those extremes are such fine combination.

The third artist is Rojinski, the current outfit of Alexei Rojinski, a (very sympathetic) guy who might be from this universe but maybe not from this planet, and who is, to my modest opinion, one of the greatest discoveries, Music-wise, lately. On this album, he appears with Elea’s Sleep, Frozen Relics and The Subterranean World Of Enisoraï. The first, Elea’s Sleep, immediately delves deep into underground spheres, with that bleak, somewhat monotone yet spacious tapestry of sound-collages: repetitive tones with an hypnotic character, joined by warm waves of acquiescent inner tranquillity. Soon things evolve into an almost prophetic vision, seen from sonic point evidently, sort of illuminating the initially murky-oriented soundtrack. At a far distance, a heartbeat-like machine supports the progress of the dreamworld, softly broadening, smoothly developing towards insight and intuition. Frozen Relics (08:26) continues in a comparable vein, being constructed around multi-layered digital waves of hypnotic and introspective nature; introspective, despite the open-minded ubiquity of fanciful and almost meditative or sanctified melodies. Carefully constructed aural alleviation and a burdensome oppression get canalised through in-depth synths once more. With The Subterranean World Of Enisoraï (09:40), Rojinski investigate paradoxically deeper textures and rather crepuscular realms through monotonous yet, at the very same time, generous constructions and profuse instalments (read: hazy and long-stretched synths, appended by delicate field-recorded additions and even martial-like spheres, like distant samples, shady weaving and poignant, somewhat militant drone-scapes.

Oh yes: that artwork, how stunning it is. I do not know whether Alexei and his virtuoso Artificial Intelligence skills are behind it, but it represents the three sonic sculptors behind this split for sure, veiled in mystery and contemplation…

[PS: I wanted to keep it short, but I couldn’t help myself once more…]