In mid-February, The Gathering Storm was released as Austrian ambient artist Hydra Transmitter's 8th album on Xtelyon Records. This release is particularly interesting due to the structure of the album. At nine tracks in length, the album is divided into two separate parts with the first three tracks being "The Gathering Storm I-III" and tracks five through eight "Dissolution I-IV." The result is an intense build-up that climaxes in the middle of the album and then drags us through a sonic wasteland for the second half.
The first three tracks have a wonderfully foreboding quality to them. The focus of these tracks is the distortion which I am not sure if it is coming from a guitar or a synth, but it expertly castrs a gloomy atmosphere as if we are being prepared for something. The distortion in these tracks is accompanied by drums that begin with a very live and organic sound in the first track and seem to progressively succumb to the distortion as the third track begins. As the third track ends, we hit a transition point in the fourth track "Impact," another track with a similar distortion but this time accompanied by a percussive texture that seems to grow in intensity.
At the end of "Impact," we are introduced to a droning sonic wasteland in "Dissolution I-IV." These tracks seem to have an inverse movement to "The Gathering Storm I-III" in which the drone and distortion seems to become lighter and airy as we progress through these four tracks. As "Dissolution IV" ends we are treated to the "Epilogue," a shorter track that keeps with the distorted aesthetic that now adds an abstract and almost off-key guitar part that leaves us in a sense of bewildered mystery.
What stands out most about this album is the well-crafted movement of the album as a whole. The entire album is crafted to tell a story; a story that conveys the occurrence of some kind of disaster and the aftermath that follows that disaster. It is expertly told in two movements with two tracks that serve as bookends to each. It is a story I highly recommend to listening intently in a dark room.