SOTNMS on Progressive Ears

I would probably consider myself fairly knowledgeable music fan but every once in a while I find out about an artist that really makes me stop and think, “Why wasn’t I informed of this?” Darkroom is one such musical entity. The British duo of Michael Bearpark and Andrew Ostler have been creating music since the early 1990s and have released six albums since their debut entitled Daylight came out in 1998. Their sounds are formed in a brilliant ambient/post rock style that is both somber and exhilarating simultaneously.

Being a modern outfit, they could naturally be classified alongside others like Boards Of Canada, Chroma Key and Tortoise, but they also have a deep influence from older artists such as Fripp & Eno, Ash Ra, Cluster and the like. An association with Tim Bowness of No-man and being on the Burning Shed label ought to get them the attention of the Porcupine Tree crowd. But regardless of all that, they should be noticed because they are damn good.

After doing a little research and checking out some samples, the music on some of these numbers mean something is a tad bit heavier than the other material they have out primarily due to the participation of guest drummer Andrew Booker. Andrew has also played in No-man as well as the Harmony In Diversity project that featured Peter Banks. He also hosts a live music series called Improvizone that the members of Darkroom play a large part in.

Michael Bearpark’s guitar work on this album is very impressive. The info for this album on their web site describes it as “guitar under a microscope” and I would have to agree with that even though it might not make perfect sense. There are some subtle and very beautiful guitar parts on this album that remind me of folks like Michael Brook, Robert Fripp and Manuel Gottsching. There’s also a slight country twang at times that brings to mind Chill Out from KLF or maybe I’m thinking about Godspeed You Black Emperor.

About the only criticism I could give this release is that the some of the song titles are a bit goofy. Names like “Two Is Ambient”, “Chalk Is Organised Dust” and “No Candy No Can Do” are just plain silly…they need to stop that. But if that’s the only thing bad I can say about the disc, this must be a pretty great album. I do really like the picture of the Concorde on the cover. Really lends an air of retro nostalgia to the design.

So why didn’t anybody tell me about Darkroom? This is something that I would have definitely been grateful to find out about. When none of my friends or family lets me in on these things I have to get this information off the streets. While I might need to apologize for all the namedropping in this review, I would honestly suggest that if you are into any of those names, you should definitely check this out.

- ffroyd

Full review here