Dark ambient is still a very underrated musical style, even though the genre itself has been evolving and incorporating countless of different influences. Most dark ambient is perfect movie score music, especially for the horror cult classics many people admire. Still, even people who are into movie scores don't often reach to dark ambient, which is a real shame. There's a lot of talent in this scene, creating masterpiece after masterpiece. None of these albums really need visual support. They can stand on treir own, creating an incredible atmosphere.
Ekca Liena, the solo project of Daniel W J Mackenzie, is one of those acts that has the talent to create long, icy soundscapes and blend them with warm electronics. A few years ago, he released the highly acclaimed debut 'Slow Music For Rapid Eye Movement'. This album raised the expectations for the new album, 'Graduals'. This sequel should confirm Mackenzies rise to the forefront of the dark ambient scene. He is not new to the world of drones and noise either, since he's one of the members of UK based act Plurars.
Graduals is an outstanding album, in which Ekca Liena seems to have been influenced by acts like Thisquietarmy or Aidan Baker but Mackenzie takes it a little further. On "Free Precipitation" I hear some harsh noise flashes of Skullflower or Sunn O))) while other tracks ('Out Fir' for instance) are a bit more gentle and calm. The combination of electronics and analog equipment with often modern classical sounds makes this a very intense listening experience. But, even through this enormous variety of sounds, at times (especially in the track 'Ky Ra') Ekca Liena reaches the high quality minimalistic ambient of Svaixt or Atrium Carceri.
Most of the tracks follow the same writing and recording technique where a number of different sounds float in and out over a long drone. These seem to vary from field recordings over guitar riffs and creepy samples to slow percussion and synth modification. The result is stunning, an awesome soundtrack for a frightening horror movie or a psychotic film noir. In fact, the perfect track order and mix make this album a huge and intense psychedelic journey. In short, Graduals is a highly recommended album.