Callista Graves - Pariah Sect



 

Hailing from Seattle, Washington, Callista Graves is an experimental musician who genuinely and generously taps into the dark, mysterious, ominous side of Ambient sound art. Each of her works is designed to evoke a different mood within the listener while providing a stark reminder that life is certainly not - and never will be - all sunshine and rainbows. Callista's newest release, Pariah Sect, takes the listener through a series of intriguing and unsettling places into the listener's darker corners of the subconscious mind in a swift, relentless manner. "Ritual" opens the album with delightful eeriness. The arpeggiated low end synthesizers and the haunting, reverberated bells paint a picture reminiscent of a 1970's Italian style Giallo film surrounded by occult-like trappings, nightmarish stares from unfamiliar faces, and the threat of imminent violence about to strike. "Jungle" enters the picture with a series of frantic, chant-like noise samples repeated on loop followed by dissonant mid-timbre synths that swell in and out. Vivid thoughts of being isolated in an unknown territory come to mind. The harsh soundscapes and abstract arrangements that refuse to let up can raise anxiety and apprehension within the listener, as if there's no escape or turning back. "Creep" offers a slight departure from the two previous tracks. A smooth, electronic Downtempo beat carries the more melodic, consonant arrangement of the song. The framework is carried by a lustful and sensual keyboard arrangement. Set in a minor key, this track offers a more melancholy mood while there's still something more insidious lurking under the surface. Next track, "Drive All Night", however, comes in with a more sinister, aggressive beat that retracts and encroaches the listener like an intruder or an attacker coming from out of nowhere at full speed. 70's and 80's Horror Slasher films come to mind on this track, as I think it would work very well for a build up for a chase scene or a final battle between the protagonist and the antagonist. "Late August" takes on a more experimental, atmospheric, abstract approach. Reverting to the more melodic and warm sensibilities as explored on "Creep", "Late August" is more beatless, coming across as a sound tapestry. A series of ambient samples layered together to serve as a foundation for a beautifully performed piano piece that has a New Romantic, Gothic overtone. I hear a small hint of a Dead Can Dance, Sisters of Mercy, or Depeche Mode influence within, which is a very good thing in my opinion. Although the track takes a darker, creepier tone towards the end, I think it flows very nicely, and will say that it's my favorite composition on the album. Finally, "Pariah Sect", the title track, closes the album on a more dissonant, harsher note. More Industrial/Noise tinged in a manner similar to what was presented on "Ritual", "Pariah Sect" has a dystopian aura throughout, as if one is facing an existential threat to life brought upon by cyborgs, artificial intelligence, or corruption of power - all of which lead to mutually assured destruction. I hear a Terminator, Blade Runner, and Total Recall influence on this track, which sums up the album nicely and further showcases Callista's versatility as a composer. I strongly recommend Callista Graves's newest release Pariah Sect if you enjoy dark, dissonant, unsettling music reminiscent of Horror, Sci-Fi, and Thriller film scores, Industrial Noise, and/or Dark Ambient. Enjoy while reading some macabre fiction or non-fiction, taking walks or going for scenic drives at night, by meditating or ritualizing, or around the time of Halloween if you really want to enhance the mood that time of the year.

 

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