SUBTERRANEAN SOURCE  Ellipsis  CD   (Winter-Light)   16.99

2021 full-length is made up of five longform collaborations from a number of names in the dark ambient underground, some of whom are personalm favorites here at C-Blast. The cthonic electronics and vast sub-surface dronescapes that Italian sound-sculptor Subterranean Source has been craffting since the turn of the millenium are all present, showcasing a skilled hand at creating a newer interpretation of the "isolationist" aesthetic, but the addition of these other plays adds even more textural qualities and ubnique combinations of sound and style than other recent offerings from the Source. With tracks that spread out from six to sixteen minutes in length, the album thrusts you into another stunning and ill-lit space, starting with the buzzing halogen dread of the opener "Decadimento Incrementale Featuring". TYhis one has fellow Italian Paolo Bandera ( ( Sshe Retina Stimulants, Ensemble Sacrés Garçons, Iugula-Thor, Sigillum S ) stepping in to contribute a horde of mechanical buzz and crystaliizzed fragments and sometimes ghastly-sounding aural events to the Source's underground vastness and endless rumbling drones. That first track is as chilling as anything I've heard from either artist, evocative of Yen Pox and lustmord at their most skin-crawling creepiest. The shortest piece is the collab with New Risen Throne, "Evoke", which compresses their sounds into a more claustrophonbic experience, a swarming of low-volt energy, ghostly murmurations, cyclic clicking, and mysterious percussive noises all surrounded in a cloying blanket of cavernous echo and reverb; slightly more meditative than menacing, but still pitch-black in tone, flowing towards a finale that feels like the afterglow of a seance gone sideways.

When Exit In Grey and Subterranean Source converge for the epic "Oblivion", each artist's signature style is blended together into a harrowing spookshow of immense tectonic rumblings, sinister voice-like presences filtereed throuygh an elecrtronic signal, glowing specks of irradiated hum and the infinite whirr of prayer-bowl like gestures. This one is filled to the brim with detailed activity, a swirling space alive with sudden, frightening flashes of tone and scrape and hiss, made all the more unnerving by what feels like a multitude of malevolent voices murmuring in the distance at different directions. As some subtle minor-key organ-like musical shapes take form, the atmosphere of "Oblivion" turns towards the Gothic, as if we are leaving a dank, earthen tunnel system and enteering some gargantuan underground cathedral as some kind of serpent-worship is occuring, a ritualistic air hovering over these new movements, while the still-mysterious clanks and bell-like intonations echo in the unseeable blackness, evoking some unknown processes at work as the sounds slowly shift towards some sort of consonant lightness glimmering at the very end of the structure. Definitely a highlight of this album, one of the more cinematic-sounding pieces on the whole album, but still pretty goddamn freaky.

For "Ocean Chants & Ghosts ", Nimh adds their hair-raising death-drones and ritualistic musicality to another sprawl of ambient unease. Softly plucked strings and poignant keyboards from Nimh form a kind of funereal beauty that drifts over the Source's dark drift. From the start, this piece reveals a mournful beauty unlike the rest of the album, evoking a Tangerine Dream-like grandeur as they tunnel through the black, gorgeous electronic melody and delayed strings weaving a mesmerizing central figure, while beyond the soft firelight of this melody there are numerous menacing movements in the shadows, all coming together to make this a breathtaking piece of grim beauty , even more cinematic, "soundtracky", and emotionally, epically wrought than anything else on Ellipsis, and easily my favorite song on this disc. This one lurks in my mind even after the disc is finsihed.

Lastly, the song "Zaruchejnaya" has Lunar Abyss joining with an unusual and unexpected glitchy folk-flecked noisescape, those massive rolling drones and cave-system reverberations unfolding under a bizarre twilight sky of insectile chirps, whizzing and whirring electronics, odd sinewave formations, and another musical quality that is a bit lighter in tone than the preceding tracks. It's still pretty oppressive, of course, but there's a surrealistic playfullness that Lunar Abyss brings to this piece that really stands out, merging dark ambient awe and bits of mournful piano-like notes, gentle guitar plucks, shimmering chimes, weird voices stretched over the backgriound, surges of percussive thubnder, all very strange and darkly magical as it all proceeds to surface from the inky blackness of the rest of the album's aural underworld into the violet glow of encroaching night, unleashing an alien dreamscape upon you as you break the surface.