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'kirchenkampf'

Lazarus Rising (CD)

>Approximately 64 minutes of dark/space ambience on John Gore's latest outing. Improvised and layered, the results are atmospheric in varying degrees, at times calling to mind what Klaus Schulze might end up with under similar circumstances. Granted, I have yet to hear anyone surpass fellow Canadian Steve Roach evoking a convincing beyond-earth atmosphere, though a good deal of LR still invokes similar mental imagery in a proper setting. Packaged in art paper, it is, like all Cohort releases, appealing to more than just the ears. (Brain Scan #2)

>A beautifully packaged disc of abstract soundscapes far too intense to be ambient. For me, the music evokes images of giant engines of vast starships warming up, then dragging the metal beasts through the violent coronas of stars, colliding with comets, and braving the crushing gravity of black holes. Expansive, edgy, spacious, and almost indescribable. (Thad Engeling, ND #21)

>A new, mammoth recording of excellent digital synth ambient/space-induced music from AUTO's own John Gore. On this, his first CD, his avant garde tendencies show a bit more, more as on the nice opening track, where a polyphonic series of minimal percussive themes collide and converge. "Halo of Birds" has a fast, repetitive, percussive phrase complimented by fizzing high notes and electronic spasms. At points this is new-minimalist with slow, bare phrases repeating over and under each other, interacting regardless of each other, solidifying into one, changes in timbre giving the pieces a tension and release ... sort of a STEVE REICH on peyote maybe? At other points it's as if ENO went back in time to give WATERS and GILMOUR a helping hand and a Saucerful of Oblique Technological Secrets at the height of PINK FLOYD's experimentation. "Three-In-One" and "Forty Days In the Desert" are two of the few pieces that allow for a trance-out. Although KIRCHENKAMPF is on the quiet and spacey side, the music is too thematic and involved to be background or outright ambient. GORE is a brilliant anomaly among ambient composers and I'm proud to be a fan. (C. Reider, AUTOreverse #6, Summer 1998)

 

The First Circle (CDR)

>Massive ambience. Though the release has only six tracks, it's every bit a full-length release checking in at just under an hour. The ambience portrayed here could be perceived as beautiful by many, but I find it more metallic, not harsh, but metallic. Imagine walking through the guts of a really big machine that digests metal as opposed to organic materials. It's the soundtrack to a very dark day. This record is recommended for those who just need some time to think about things. The artwork on this first edition is astounding. The handpainted, cracking green and black jewel box perfectly captures the mood.(J. Mundok, AUTOreverse #11)

 

Probe (7")

>Wow. This 1-sided 7" really took me by surprise. This is a virtually indescribable piece of music, managing to sound completely otherworldly, and much more dense than one would normally expect from a 7" single. It sounds like the inner workings of some alien spacecraft, operating by robotic insects. The tone reminds me of Phaedra-era Tangerine Dream. Exceptional. (Thad Engeling, ND #21)

 

The Secret Life of Machines (3" CDR)

>The name 'kirchenkampf' has been around for many moons now, maybe close to a decade even, but somehow I could never pin them down. Their small output was usually on highly limited releases, in various formats. On "The Secret Life of Machines" they (although I suspect it to be a one-man band) experiment for the full nineteen minutes with shortwave sounds locked inside a system of analog synthesizers, feeding its sound back and forth, slowly multiplying it until a mass of cosmic sounds emerge. Dark and atmospheric ambient music of a rather unnerving character. Music made by bugs in the system, perhaps indeed even the secret life of machines. (FdW, Vital #476)

>Through his aesthetic of tension and release and a fresh variety of electronic and natural sounds, John Gore - 'kirchenkampf' being one of his projects - offers many truly haunting moments during the 19-plus minutes of this mini CD. Capturing the enchantment of strange creatures whose voices sound like a howling wolf morphing into a meteorite, moving around sparse darkish loops punctuated by barely audible crickets and other assorted microfaunae, 'kirchenkampf' lets the adjective "cold" our of the resulting fluctuating meditation; this composition - more than having me think about machines - is spacy and poetic. I believe John must be followed very closely after listening to this piece, which I strongly recommend. (Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes)

>John Gore&ldots;he of the many different musical projects&ldots;has just released a little cracker of a release. Little&ldots; as in it comes in the form of a tiny 3 inch shiny disc. Cracker&ldots;because that’s what it is. Pure and simple. No pretentious airs or graces will be written to describe this. No preposterous usage of huge words whilst hurting the fingers hammering away at the keys. Just a very quick write up with a suitable endorsement at the end. Way to go. "The secret life of machines"’ is 19 minutes of electronic black ambience. How it compares to past Kirchenkampf releases I don’t know as this is the first I’ve heard from this project but I’ve a feeling I’ve been seriously missing out if this recording is anything to go by. Coming on like a cosmic outer world piece, part space part machine ambient, the music goes boldly where no man has gone before. Possibly. The music swirls with howls and reverb and speckles of indiscriminate whooshes and high frequencies abound. And that’s it. But&ldots;it’s the way that the music has been ingeniously structured and conjured up that makes it what it is. A beautiful piece of music that draws you in and envelops you in dark magic. I recommended to you the last piece of music that John Gore was involved in&ldots;namely the GoreHallReider release and without any reservations I urge you to seek this one ASAP. An exceptional piece of ambient mood music you’ll ever find this or any other year. (auralpressure)

 

Island of the Dead (CDR)

>Since many years, it has been noted before, Kirchenkampf is a solid player in the field of dark ambient electronics, but it never became a true household name like, say, Troum. Which is a pity since it would be truly deserved to get some more attention than a handful of CDRs over the years. 'Island Of The Dead' on Kirchenkampf's own Cohort Records is another fine leap forward. On his previous two releases Kirchenkampf worked with intercepted radio sounds, which were transformed through a bunch of sound effects. Which is probably what he does on the new one, but he takes matters a bit further. The first twenty or so minutes are much of the usual radio/synthesizer/sound effects stuff, but in the second half he picks up on a classical theme, which at first is played 'normally' but then slowly gets transformed and changed. The sustaining sounds of the orchestra are replaced by the sustaining sounds of guitars, synthesizers and smaller particles drop in and out. A very intense second half, with lots of hidden tension and intentions and 'Island Of The Dead' has become his greatest achievement thus far. (FdW, Vital #560)

>After listening to this new chapter of the Kirchenkampf saga, I am left pondering on the fact that this is one of the few artists working in the field of space music/electronica whose releases don’t end up sounding like a crazed broken pinball machine or, worse yet, like a funeral for creativity. “Island of the Dead” is a cloudy trippish voyage through the realms of abstraction, an album that presents a multiplicity of situations, sounds and ideas that are, for the most part, quite refreshing if not stimulating. It contains drones, but also ever-changing evolutions of non-corporeal exudations ranging from the semi-disfigured to the out-and-out ethereal. It gets in touch with several aspects of inner communication while never sounding sanctimonious or pretentious. Furthermore, it works fine both as active background - low frequencies and shortwave shards diffusing effortlessly in your environment - but often requires full concentration to penetrate its many subtleties, and its instrumentation is neither described nor easily recognizable - no presets in sight, a major plus in my judgement criteria. John Gore seems to understand our psychological zones in advance, elaborating chains of functional events to enhance our responsive system. Listening to "Island of the dead" is like wandering in the void remaining completely lucid. I doubt that this album could cause intolerance in some of you, as it’s as finely detailed as a perfect picture from another planet. Dig the cover artwork, too. (Touching Extremes)

>From the very first minute this album grabbed me, haunting eerie dark ambient fills my head. This one track, forty-two minutes, album, will no doubt surprise any fan of established bands like Rapoon or Troum, Stars of the Lid. Island of the Dead cannot just be classified as dark ambient, it's also drone, it’s electronic, it’s ethereal. The most amazing thing about Island of the Dead by Kirchenkampf is that it sounds so dynamic, where many dark ambient bands tend to use either lows mids or highs Kirchenkampf uses it all. The pitfall of making a one-track album is that it often sounds boring or as several songs stitched together, luckily Kirchenkampf was able to avoid that. The one track could emotionally be split in two sections. The first half being tenser, slower, ambient/drone like, evolving with slow waves of sounds into the second half which is more open and intense with even longer sustained sounds. Where the first part sounds more warm and indoors the second half sounds more cold and deserted, sad, dead. I tried but failed to see an Island of the Dead while listening to this album but Kirchenkampf certainly got my attention anyway. This is a great album, one I will most likely often play after I listened to The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid. The packaging is simple yet appropriate, it is a pro burnt and printed cd-r in vinyl gatefold sleeve and paper inserts, all grayscale. (Gothtronic)

>Sometimes the best things in life can be found nestled in the edges; you know, peeking out of the corners, stealing glances from under the covers. Monticello, Indiana, isn’t exactly the nexus for experimental music in the US by any stretch, but it is in fact the place Cohort Records owner John Gore calls home, and like it or not, what he issues from his diminuitive CDR label are the kind of aural objects you obtain fast and clutch tightly to chest, lest they vanish into the ether. Trucking in names either reasonably obscure or desperately unknown, the discrete charm of Gore’s imprint means those wanting to seek out the less obvious purveyors of all things weird, whacked and wonderful can shell out very little and usually receive very much. Main Cohort Gore, under his nom de disque Kirchenkampf, is possessed of keen radar and deft ear, proof of that pudding being the motley crew of folks he assembles for release on his label. His own music ain’t too shabby, either. Throughout the single 42-minute piece that makes up Island of the Dead, Kirchenkampf dots his pockmarked canvas with splayed abandon and sureity of purpose both; consider a bizarre merger of Jackson Pollock and Hieronymus Bosch and you’ll get a good idea as to the emerging soundscape on hand. Shoot past the near-Grand Guignol beginning and you’re tossed into a never-never land where tones the temperature of frozen nitrogen fleck about in the air, congealing what’s breathable into whorling bubbles, while stranger noises curl and evaporate around disembodied voices that arc to the heavens like rising thermals; music as ectoplasma, fluid, frightening, fascinating. Punks had hardcore—well, meet atmocore, gratuitous Gore included. (ei)

>Arriving a in a very nicely presented gatefold sleeve comes the ‘Island of the Dead’, a single track CD consisting of 42 minutes or so of atmospheric dark ambient music. To be honest when I read the press release that accompanied the CD I was kind of intrigued by this release but not really grabbed. However the CD and its simplistic yet effective packaging did grab me, so I was looking  forward to see what this release had to offer but wasn’t really expecting too much.  There are so many dark ambient releases out there.  Some fantastic, some not so fantastic, and I’d never heard of the US based Kirchenkampf, one of the projects fronted by John Gore, so wasn’t too sure exactly what to expect but was hoping for something worthwhile and interesting. Thankfully ‘Island of the Dead’ delivered the goods straight way. Building up a deeply captivating and atmospheric mood almost instantly the layered washes of sound that delicately amalgamate together produce a dense and stimulating ambience that is beautifully overshadowed by an unsettling darkness. Utilizing an array of sound fragments, subtle drones and haunting electronics Kirchenkampf produce a wonderful shadowed soundtrack like dark-ambient composition that has an immensely organic touch to it due in part I’m sure to the subject matter of this release.  Taking the listener through the geographic variations of the island, the CDs single track constantly evolves, with a change in sound and atmosphere that is reflected in it.  It’s this organic, evolving nature, which keeps the CD moving long at a gentle pace without become too repetitive. Normally there’s quite a bit of risk taking in filling a release with one single track without alienating the listener too much or losing them someway throughout.  And whilst not being the most groundbreaking of releases ‘Island of the Dead’ manages to keep your attention easily as you’re lead on a mysterious exploration of its shadowy land, making the listening experience of the CD one of great ease and interest. Whilst not being a pitch-black or malevolent dark ambient release ‘Island’ is brimming with a shadowed undercurrent that produces a wonderfully dark and unsettling atmosphere which pulsates as its single track leads you into the unknown.  This atmosphere and the sound it’s built into will make this release a worthy addition to any dark ambient collection. Interesting stuff indeed! (Judas Kiss)

>I'll state my bias against lengthy one track albums up front and I'll say it plainly: I do not like excessively long songs. (i.e. longer than 20 minutes) The reason is simple: 99% of the time, all the ideas contained within the song can be expressed in a far shorter period of time, without sacrificing atmosphere. Or they sound like several songs cobbled together. This applies across the music spectrum, including bands as diverse as Abruptum, Sabbat and Donis. Unsurprisingly, it also tends to the embryonic participants in the scene - is it perhaps ego or naivete unmitigated by experience that convinces persons that for a song to be good it must extend well into the double digit zone? This is not a plea for radio friendly 3 ½ minute numbers for an ADHD afflicted population numbed by the relentless monotony of Hollywood blockbusters and MacDonalds, or a plea for grindcore styled twenty second blasts, which in any case are just as ridiculous as excessively long tracks. But all rules have exceptions and Kirchenkampf is that exception. Perhaps the reason why sole member John Gore is able to make it work where so many others have failed can be attributed to extra-musical factors such as his veteran status in the underground realm. (Gore has appeared in various incarnations since 1986) and thus has the necessary experience to be able to pull off a project of this magnitude - and not only pull it off, but in doing so creating the near impossible: a lengthy song that proceeds way beyond the half hour - nay, hour - mark but is thoroughly riveting for its entire duration. The song starts with a warmer ambient drone that gradually draws in the listener, whilst the second 'half' incorporates classical tendencies, albeit mutated and has a far colder feel. The primary reason why it is engaging is that the same patterns do not keep looping back endlessly, nor is it a poor attempt at artificially dragging out a song, but a varied excursion that is allowed to terminate naturally. This is one of the better entrants that I have heard so far for the genre. If you'll excuse me, I need to track down his other, earlier releases. Recommended. (Heathen Harvest)

>Island of the Dead is a long form ambient piece lasting near on 50 minutes and as its title suggests takes you on a damned  sonic trip to an island of the dead or possible even purgatory it's self. The piece starts off quite shifting, swirling and harmonically psychedelic with a collection of dread soaked, perching and ghostly yet often bright pitchers of sound tones that have mingled among them the odd burst of calling and massed voice tones almost like hearing distant calls through eerier dream space. Also present are these odd echoed male  voice tones  that appear as the track seems to reach a calmer harmonic sonic Plato that's underlined by bubbling up tones. Then the pace seems to slow and space out and this is when the real feeling of dread and dispair seems to cut in deep as  eerier harmonic boy tones knock against shorting radio tones, hopeless synth drift and bleak string drifts. There really is a very tangible feeling of fear, anxiety and dread- it's like your walking over a seemingly abounded island but the earth beneath your feet keeps giving and shifting  as if something is trying to crawl its way up to the surface. As you progresses on your journey you're sure you can see hands breaking the surface of the earth on the horizon where the grey dead skies meet the barren earth. The feeling that Kirchenkampf brings to mind here seems to be from the same sonic air as Xela The dead sea- yet with a  more ambient bent. With Island of the dead Kirchenkampf builds a very heady and tangible feeling of dread, isolation and ultimate bone chilling horror. This is my first taste of Kirchenkampf's errier yet often harmonic ambient fruits and I'm positive it won't be last. (Roger Batty, Musique Machine)

 

Babel (2CD)

>The name Kirchenkampf has been around for many years and it has been a strange career so far. In the beginning there were some highly limited 7" releases, then a period of quietness and now relatively more activity, and perhaps the release of this double CD, perhaps the first for Kirchenkampf, things will lead to more recognition and 'fame' (well, if such as thing is required of course). John Gore, the man behind Kirchenkampf (as well as The Oratory Of Divine Love, who also recently a first real CD and the Cohort Records label), is a busy bee by now. The differences between his Kirchenkampf and The Oratory of Divine Love are small, and lie mainly in the origins of the used material. The latter uses short wave sounds which are highly processed and as Kirchenkampf it's analogue synthesizer time and a lot of sound effects. Two hours span this double disc of highly atmospheric sound that are as highly dark as well. Moody, dark electronic music, that is quite angular in approach. This is certainly not ambient music which sets a comforting background for the listener, but it's an intense experience that has some unsettling moments. I thought CD2, called 'Citadel Of The Nevermind' was a bit more quiet, but that may have been my perception. The work of Kirchenkampf has matured slowly over the years and now is the time to take the benefit of it. It's not music that hasn't  been done before but Kirchenkampf is in the world of experimental electronic and (well, ok) ambient music one of the strongest voices. (FdW, Vital)

>What strikes at a first glance is the incredible similarity of the cover graphics with many of Muslimgauze's releases; there are even titles that recall Bryn Jones' past albums. But the content of the two discs comprised by "Babel" has nothing to do with trance, dub or magnetic percussion. The first CD, "Red Babylon", is one of the best examples of Kirchenkampf's extremely variegated, absolutely personal blend of electronica. John Gore wants us to know that he didn't use any radio in realizing this work. I don't know the exact reason of his preoccupation with this matter, but rest assured that the indecipherable decays, polymorphic emissions and demanding synthetic landscapes that he presents are truly a one-of-a-kind affair, making us forget about the dumbness of many practitioners in this field, whose number of releases is directly proportional to the money received by thousands of fishes swallowing their obviousness-based hooks. The second disc, "Citadel Of The Nevermind", is even better as far as mental displacement is concerned. Gore's inventions make good use of darker sonorities, the roaring, fluorescent blackness of his inauspicious visions constituting a convincing reason for our consciousness to better accept the universal laws - or, at least, what we believe them to be. Despite lasting over two hours "Babel" is not ear-taxing, and it must be considered among Kirchenkampf's overall best albums, likely to lift you up and send you floating in many directions. [Touching Extremes]

>Some records get it so right from the very start that it's almost sinister. They just hit every note that you're looking for. Let's take this step by step, shall we? This two disc set is packaged in a gatefold digipack made out of a kind of "natural" cardboard that has a delightful textural feel to it. Add to this some lovely artwork based around red-ink woodcuts of the Tower of Babel and an unnamed Ziggurat, eastern-style scripting with proto-Cuneiform numerics and you've already got something worth owning without even getting to the music! A lot of projects could learn from this approach. You don't have to make elaborate packages for your music but a well-presented release is something that gives you a massive head-start. Yet, it's the music that we're here for. Packaging is all well and good but means nothing if it doesn't contain good music. And good music, two long discs of the stuff, is what we have here. The first disc, Red Babylon, starts off with the clicks and bass-howls of "Ziggurat"; an eerie opening that sets the scene for the next hour or so of music. Like a doomed archaeologist creeping down the halls of some forgotten tomb, flickering torch consuming the last few wisps of fuel, we're surrounded by vast reverberations, the echoing rattles of stone on stone and the plaintive cries of the restless dead. This theme continues with the music evolving over the next few tracks as skittering clicks and plummeting bass is added into the mix. The epic Nebuchadnezzar in particular takes these themes into new and oppressive realms of the netherworld with an eerie sub-melody far, far back. There's something slightly reminiscent of Cyclobe's "The Visitors" in the unsettling nature of these first tracks. "Tiamat" leads us into a far more rhythmic and throbbing soundscape until we reach "Babylon", with its building, insistent drones and metallic rasps. The sound of an ancient ceremony builds into frenzy as the blackened thurible shakes in the undying priest's claws and "Marduk"'s crazed, electronic tabla rhythms leer from the incense-fume before we move into more relaxing areas with "Hammerurabi"; where vapour-drones and woodblock percussion fade into the violin-scree of "Mesopotamia". Disc two, Citadel of the Nevermind, is much more spacious and less oppressive than these first tracks with floating ambience covering echo-crackles putting us very firmly in the absolute zero/space drone area already mapped by the likes of Sleep Research Facility. There's a less organic sound here, distanced from the esoteric catacombs of Red Babylon, and the crackles sound more like misfiring machinery than the hovering insects you might previously have expected (slightly annoyingly, the track seems to just stop jarringly which breaks the flow built up over the track's ten minutes although maybe that's just my copy). Flitting birds and gaseous hisses carry on the increasingly organic feeling as we've move into "Pristine"'s layering of alternate, barely-there wisps of sound and more heavily layered passages. Occasional data-bursts give us the feeling of being in an orbiting arboretum, left wild and abandoned long after the collapse of humanity, which is taken further and layered even more on "Irae".  "The Citadel of the Nevermind" is an even more sparse and nebulous place. Elongated, single tone drones float past like threads of gossamer that fade into shimmering fields of energy until they disperse until almost nothing and you're blasted into the howling, final nova of "...and Shudders". It's not often that I do a track-by-track review but Babel definitely benefits from showing the flow of the album. Starting in the dusty, dead catacombs and rising to the dark expanses of space, we can see the development in the same way that the eponymous tower was slowly raised up to God. This is a startlingly good record which, in some ways, leads the few tiny flaws to stand out all the more (again, the links with the Tower itself shine forth). For the most part, the record flows wonderfully. The second disc is slightly more separated but the record works perfectly as a single entity apart from the few moments where there is a jarring change of tonal structure or layering. As you've been so wonderfully drawn into the soundscape, it's a shame that these few elements serve to remove that level of involvement with a few minor flaws. Despite this, and as mentioned before, this is an excellent record and a paragon of unsettling, elongated ambient with two hours' worth of material more than good enough to sit next to classics like "Nostromo". As an edition of 500, this might not be the easiest recording to hunt down but the search will be more than worth the effort should you eventually hunt down a copy. (Heathen Harvest)

 

Dark Planet (CDR)

>With slow liquid melodies Kirchenkampf dwells the universe like a little stream of ice cold water that is finding its way between the rocks. Kirchenkampf is like a spaceship, slowly entering the Dark Planet with soft drones and ethereal melodic atmospheres. Sometimes the metal body of the spaceship cracks slowly when it penetrates the atmosphere of the Dark Planet. This surrealistic planet with a thick warm liquid surface has strange life forms, moving in this liquid like rags of smoke or slithers like an eel. Dark Planet is a soft ethereal journey provided by Kirchenkampf mastermind John Gore who is making music under this moniker since 1986, inspired by Tangerine Dream in its Phaedra era. It won't do any harm that Dark Planet can probably be best described as ethereal dark ambient with lush melodies and drifting drones. The atmosphere is very relaxing and soft, wrapped in tender compositions. The tracks are not abstract as there always is an sense of melody and rhythm to be traced which make this CD suitable not only for dark ambient diehards but also for those who like this genre for a change. Dark Planet is sultry and lingering and the trip is seductive as some nice warm single malt. Let kirchenkampf take you by the hand to enjoy this spacious journey to this far away mystic planet. [Gothtronic]

>kirchenkampf, the project of John Gore from label Cohort Records, is not a newcomer in the field of dark ambient since he started at the end of the eighties! These years of working and composing can be felt as soon as you listen to one of his recent recordings, like this « Dark Planet », a dense, imaginative space odyssey. As always, Gore likes to focus on a special theme and to create a narrative through the titles of the songs. This gives a very cinematographic aspect to the whole of it. « In Transit », the first piece, makes us slide slowly into this cosmic domain. It can remind us of the work of Tangerine Dream on their fascinating, timeless record « Zeit » but also of the soundtrack to a science-fiction movie. This is no sterile or arid drone ambient music, but on the contrary it is full of images, that each one can interpret as he wishes. The second song, « Homesick », draws us further from our familiar world to enter the realm of the uncanny, but it is really with the third song, called « Dark Planet », that we penetrate a very anguished universe, with disturbing sounds, frequencies and buzzing noises. This universe of sublime terror is deeply described in the following titles.We can feel an extraterrestrial animosity, a sense of threat and mystery, as soon as the travelers arrive on this new planet and witness an eclipse (« Eclipse ») that seem to fill the crew of the spaceship with awe and fear. Then everything calms down as if we were floating in the ether (« Landform ») until a heartbeat seems to be heard and a strange life form appears (« Terrorform »). Sounds come and go and we are drifting among them, going from icy coldness to burning sensations (« Firemountain »), a duality and conflict that can be felt also in the name « kirchenkampf ».But why has John Gore chosen to use quotation marks with no capital letters for the name of this project?A nice question to ask him if I happen to have the opportunity to meet him.As the narrative of the story goes on, the crew is mesmerized by the moon in a song that is like a fixed moment in time (« Newmoonrise »). They are now under the spell of this planet and they forget what they have left behind. Only the magic remains. What is, was and will be. It all ends as they are waiting for the sun to come (« Waiting for the Sun »). Maybe it will never come but it does not really matter, they can feel the light and stay there until the end of time, mesmerized by the fantastic sounds of this very successful record.[Heathen Harvest]

>This lovely and mysterious ambient CD is the ideal soundtrack to a Kubrick-esque space journey, and the intense visuals this one instills make it a must-hear for fans of dark and cinematic electronic music. Beginning with the suspended animation sleep of "In Transit" and "Homesick", the crew then awakens to some startling visions of distant worlds in transformation. Confusion arises with the chaotic "Dark Planet", which seems to cause some distress, as heart-rate increases and otherworldly sounds envelop the cabin. "Terrorform" and especially "Firemountain" are dark visions of what may be a distant world sustaining a violent disturbance. Could it be natural, or ??. Regardless, "Newmoonrise" sees a new beginning, as deep drones and reverberations bring a peaceful conclusion to the day's tumult. "Waiting For The Sun" brings an even more hopeful ending to this incredible sojourn. "Dark Planet" is a memorable and evocative collection of thematic instrumental pieces that sparkle with just the right balance of light and dark hues. Fully recommended. [Goatsden]

 

Well of Souls (CDR)

>With Cohort Records it's always a surprise what to expect from a release. While the label sure has a knack for creating odd packaging, the quality of their releases is not always as interesting. The label does however keep on releasing music where weird experiments are highly supported. Now they have a release by Kirchenkampf, though it is officially spelled as 'kirchenkampf', where the emphasis is on dark experimental drones. Kirchenkampf is the experimental ambient project of sound artist John Gore, who also runs Cohort Records.  While some of his work under the Kirchenkampf moniker is more ethereal, like 'Dark Planet', this new release is more industrial oriented. Experimental industrial sounds processed to create dark drones. The album consists of 3 very long tracks with a total length of about 75 minutes. Unlike some Cohort releases, I like this one very much. The sound is perhaps more experimental than some of the other releases, and all three segments do have their own distinct sound, which is nice. On the insert card it reads 'no radios were used', that was actually not something I was thinking about while listening to this release. However, I listened to it a second time and had to do something elsewhere in my house. Somewhat later for a moment I thought I heard the washing machine working, but could've sworn I did not turn it on. As it turned out, it was the first track of this release that had an almost identical washing machine sound when hearing it in the background. This mostly counts for the first track, 'Deep Dark', which sounds like the source material was recorded from a washing machine. The second track, 'Souls Transfixed', has a more futuristic sound. The sound design is quite cinematic too. The last track, 'Psyche Void' has some ethereal elements to it, but infused with futuristic industrial drones. This is the best release I have heard from Cohort Records thus far, and it seems fitting that it comes from John Gore himself. The packaging is again authentic Cohort, where the CD is placed in a hand-made carton sleeve. [Gothtronic]

>John Gore's work as Kirchenkampf probes the dark, unexplored regions of our world (and beyond), and does so with skill and cinematic flair. "Well Of Souls" is a travelogue into deep, subterranean dark spaces, with dense static, flickering drones. The opener here, the 28-minute ambient track "Deep Dark", is a masterwork of isolationist ambient. The oppressive sounds are vast, overwhelming, and subtle, with hints of an unexplained leviathan looming in the distance. The 24-minutes of "Souls Transfixed" feels almost urban, like a drifty, distant rumble of late-night auto traffic, machines, and the rumble of activity on the horizon. Beautiful, and slightly sinister stuff. The final cut here, "Psyche Void", clocks in at over 24 minutes, and this one is a more distant, deep, and lonely ambience with an edginess that is palpable. Brilliant work. Also of note here is the fantastic and artistic presentation - the disc is housed in an ornate foldout sleeve with professional printing. Impressive, evocative, and splendid independent work that deserves a wider release. [Goatsden]

>‘kirchenkampf’ is the moniker of John Gore, who has been active in the dark ambient music scene since the mid-80s, but whose first album, Lazarus Rising, hadn’t come out until the year 1992. Under his own label, Cohort Records, his newest CD-r release, Well of Souls is an exercise in dark ambient purism. 3 tracks clocking in at over 76 minutes, the theme here is a slow, dark descent into the vacuum of the abyss, a very simple, deep, and oppressive journey through the dark. The 3 tracks here all follow a very simple, progressive direction, utilizing nebulous sounds and various echoing disturbances in atmosphere to simulate a journey down a dark river through an abysmal cavern. Like many great dark ambient works, one does not fully appreciate this CD on first listen, and it takes several sittings in the right state of mind (preferably a dark candle-lit room) in order to fully realize everything that’s happening here. The general feeling of this release is one of slow, constant motion into progressive darkness, past the tranquil, calm waters of nebulous mass you would encounter on the outskirts on the underworld, and into the deep depths of the darkest rivers, where all sorts of horrible scenes emerge from the gloom of the riverbanks, and various unfriendly lifeforms make their presence known. From the ever-present rumble of wind and murky waters, you begin to hear some rather unnerving shrieks, cries, scuttles, and other sounds of life letting you know that you are definitely not alone on this journey. Very simple and effective, a journey through a black netherworld one might experience while dreaming or after death. The first 2 tracks flow relatively seamlessy into each other, while the third track is more of a rising cascade, while various more artificial and less organic sounds leak through the murk, likened unto machinery and circuitry. Here it seems as if you’ve reached the eye of the storm, the centre “brain” of this netherworld, where all life ceases, and only pure evil resides. I would fully recommend listening to this while going to sleep in order to aid in dream travel, or as an aid in achieving gnosis for any form of ritual. This album would also be the ideal companion for any practitioner of ankoku-butoh as an inspiration for performance. Dark, surreal, nebulous, and pure. The ideal dark ambient album. [Heathen Harvest]

>I had not heard of 'kirchenkampf,' but the first thing you notice is the packaging. It is a grey, stamped, folded cover that reminds me of the old school DIY noise music scene. The best part about it is that when I put in the disc, the music was likewise reminiscent of those days. The label describes the album as 'three long tracks of cavernous ambience depicting the subterranean in us all, spiritual or otherwise.' This may be ambience, but it is not exactly Robert Rich or Steve Roach. This is more along the lines of Inade or Terra Sancta, with noisy drone and walls of sound. The music shifts at a glacial pace, slowly evolving, but always shifting beneath your feet like sand on a beach. Each track is around 25 minutes long, leaving you plenty of time to immerse yourself in the soundscapes. The liner card simply states that 'no radios were used.' I have to admit that this doesn't really push the envelope, but what it does it does quite well. I could easily see this at home on Cyclic Law or Malignant Records, so if those labels sound good to you, this is certainly worth picking up. This disc weighs in at around 75 minutes. 4 stars [Chain DLK]

 

 

lowland (CDR)

>John Gore is an active guy, with his Oratory Of Divine Love and >wirewall< in slumber mode, but still releasing fine music on his Cohort Records label and his own musical project Kirchenkampf. Whereas with Oratory Of Divine Love he works with radio waves, with Kirchenkampf that goes in combination with synthesizer and sound effects. Over the years his music didn't change that much I must say, but perhaps that is not his intention. On these seven pieces he explores the radio waves, synthesizer and modest sound effects in a very relaxed fashion. Maybe that's where the change is? This new release sounds a lot more mellow than it used to be. In fact, perhaps even the most ambient excursion I encountered from Gore. A highly delicate release, carefully constructed with a few sound elements, music that hides away, stays away and forms the perfect ambient back drop. Dark, mysterious, minimal: all of those common ground places fit this release. And perhaps its not the most 'new' (in an avant-garde sense of the word) releases, Kirchenkampf has produced his best work to date. [Vital]

 

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