Burning Shed always struck me as a funny name for a record label but the 2014 CD from the band known as Darkroom is no laughing matter. Over the past several years, Burning Shed has become synonymous with cutting edge prog by carrying a number of albums associated with King Crimson and other well known prog rockers. One such album, the Darkroom CD Gravity’s Dirty Work is a work filled with spellbinding soundscapes that superbly spotlights the guitar of Michael Bearpark and the keyboards / electronics of Andrew Ostler. Very Crimson-esque in places, Gravity’s Dirty Work features eight extended pieces of instrumental magic that crosses borders between New Age atmospherics and avant gard suspense—although unlike much New Age, this Darkroom CD is not meant to relax to. Commenting on the wide ranging comparisons made of their music, Michael Bearpark explains, 'We’re not aiming for a specific market. I don’t have a big problem with the term New Age specifically... there’s as much Suzanne Ciani as there is Delia Derbyshire in our music—also ambient, Krautrock, progressive rock, discredited for some time, and much else. People hear what they want in our music... We did set out to make an ambient album, but that was just a starting point—what’s left is something reflective, but quite different.' Darkroom have a number of releases to their credit and their best yet, Gravity’s Dirty Work is a splendid introduction to their sound. Plus, the Gravity’s Dirty Work CD cover art is excellent for those who still care about the packaging of art and music. Gravity’s Dirty Work is very ambient and spacy, and Darkroom manages to bring their sound into the 21st century with unique and successful results. Adventurous New Age music fans with a bent for near psychedelic Hendrix / Fripp like guitar-scapes and other sonic wizardry must give Darkroom a listen. Gravity’s Dirty Work is well worth the time for fans of prog-rock and ambient instrumental guitar-scapes.

Robert Silverstein
Original review and an interview with the band here

GDW on Sonic Curiosity

This release from 2013 features 60 minutes of moody atmospheric music.

Darkroom, a British electronics duo, is: Michael Bearpark (on electric guitars, pedals, loops, feedback, and bass), and Andrew Ostler (on synthesizers, keyboards, and programming). They are joined on certain tracks by: Rekoob Werdna (on cymbals), Simon Taylor (on trumpet), Simon H, Fell (on double bass), and Andrew Booker (on percussion).

Gentle electronics and atmospheric guitar tones deliver a rewarding dose of ambient tuneage.

While electronics are employed, the key instrument in this music is guitar. Predominantly, the guitar plays a gentle role with tonal sustains that establish dreamy vistas of smooth definition. These textural threads undulate softly, creating atmospheric passages of shimmering beauty that serve as a suitable foundation for the equally ethereal electronics.

At times, the guitar rises to achieve more than a tonal presence. Strummed chords stretch the harmonic structure into crystalline melodic territory. These more traditional guitar contributions lend a lilting humanity to the tunes with their often twangy resonance.

As mentioned, the electronics are secondary, functioning in support of the tonal guitar with their vaporous definition. On occasion, the electronics rise to a subtle blooping character that boosts the vitality of some of the tunes.

A degree of percussion is present, but generally relegated to the background, serving to generate fragile rhythms which contribute more as hints of tempos than as any propelling force.

These compositions are designed to establish passive soundtracks for the listener, tuneage rich with a dreaminess. They instill a infectious calm more than inspiring any introspection, though. While the overall temperament of these tunes is distinctly gentle, at times the instruments evoke a certain yearning that tends to exemplify an undercurrent of intensity locked beneath the surface.

Matt Howarth
Original review here

GDW on Frog Pest

sonorous melancholic landscapes. Perfect for watching the apocalypse...

or slow motion mega machine mishaps from your deckchair nursing a cold brew. Highly recommended

Review by Frog Pest - originals here and here

GDW on Innerviews

GDW in Prog

Drawing from experience with No-Man, Henry Fool, Bass Communion and numerous improvisational live projects over the last 17 odd years, Darkroom are a safe, stylish pair of hands in the avant-electronica department. And in case that doesn’t sound cerebral enough, guitar/pedal/loop/bass man Michael Bearpark has even squeezed in a chemistry research fellowship at Imperial College. But abandon any fears of inaccessibility - Gravity’s Dirty Work is fabulously pensive and experimental, but invitingly so. Strung With Black Nylon opens on a clean, crisp and creepy note, paving the way for minimal but potent guitar surges, propelled by electronics that judder and swerve you into a mysterious, ambient trance. There’s something strangely stimulating about being deeply relaxed and slightly unnerved at the same time. The cool, spooky tones of Baby Armageddon and Memorianova conjure a ‘haunted lighthouse’ feel. And for all the wires involved this retains an organic heart - with ominously pulsating, percussive baselines and upbeat samples providing a kind of tribal electronica beat. It all makes for a totally transportive and progressive mind clearer of an album.

Prog magazine, January 2014 issue

GDW in Electronic Musician

The UK-based duo of Michael Bearpark (guitars) and Andrew Ostler (synths) expertly ride the line between luscious, old-school progressive rock and modern ambient electronics. At times reminiscent of early Tangerine Dream, with hints of Fripp and Eno, Darkroom creates clouds of sequenced synths, chewy grooves, and looped phrases to support a variety of acoustic and electric guitar melodies that twist and turn in surprising, occasionally aggressive, ways. Moody and well-orchestrated, this release takes you places.

Laura Pallanck

Electronic Musician magazine, March 2014 issue

GDW in Prog Rock Stuff

Here's something a bit different. Second album by duo darkroom. Released on Burning Shed's own label, this is a collaboration between textural guitarist Michael Bearpark and synthesist Andrew Ostler. For info, Bearpark also plays for no-man and Henry Fool. This, their second outing for the label is particularly fine. Lots of atmospheric guitar playing, layered on top of beats and ambient swells of synth. They cover a lot of ground over the lengthy 8 tracks. They know how to set a mood and play on it to get maximum effect. I am reminded of Michael Brooks work, especially the albums he recorded for 4AD. But just listen to the final track, A Pair A Part. The addition of trumpet and double bass gives an instant jazzy overtone here, making for a particularly arresting piece. This is an excellent album. A bit different, but well worth investigating. Great artwork by Carl Glover too!

Prog Dog

Original article

GDW in irregularcrates

This week we received the forthcoming double album by Darkroom, ‘Gravity’s Dirty Work’ and it has been on heavy rotation ever since. It is duo Michael Bearpark and Andrew Ostler’s first album as Darkroom since 2008 and is available on CD or double 12″ vinyl. It is rooted in early nineties electronica experiments with the stunning cover artwork suggesting a space-based concept.

Whilst this is certainly apt and provides a reference point as you listen, the album manages to side-step cheesy done-to-death space music, with barely a hint of a NASA broadcast in sight. Instead, this set of eight mid-length tracks is a sophisticated collection of processed sound art which has a live and improvised feel throughout.
The influences are wide, with elements of Dub, Jazz, Techno, Post Rock and Ambient all discernible but none in particular standing out. This makes for a truly strong album experience that will have you mesmerised.

Harry Towell

Original article