Swedish dark ambient producer extraordinaire Pär Boström has certainly kept himself busy of late, with multiple releases from the Cities Last Broadcast, Hymnambulae and Bonini Bulga projects (amongst others) making their way into the ears of those with a yen for drone and melancholy. Despite this surfeit of work, it’s still welcome to see that we didn’t have to wait another full decade between new records from Boström’s most notable instantiation – Kammarheit. After a lengthy hiatus Boström released The Nest in 2015, and while the five year wait between it and new LP Thronal may have been brief by Kammarheit standards, it shows some subtle but significant changes to Boström’s sounds.
Despite feeling of a piece with previous Kammarheit LPs (including genre watermark The Starwheel) in terms of its monolithic presentation and dedication to sustained, massive pads, there are plenty of indications that Boström has allowed some influence from his other work to drift into Thronal. The reedy, dusty, and windswept textures which make up “The Two Houses” and “In The Dreamer’s Fields” take a page from Hymnambulae’s interest in decaying field recordings. Similarly, the sound of radio static on “Before It Was Known As Sleep” blurs in with the windy pads, with some tones perhaps meant to be taken for the sighs of a restless sleeper.
If The Nest felt remote, distant, and enigmatic, Thronal is a much more immediate release. The solitary strings which circle in the background of “Carving The Coordinates” and make up the majority of “Now Golden, Now Dark” announce themselves with a clear and forthright mix. This isn’t to say that it’s by any means an easily approached or “catchy” release – just the opposite. As is perhaps hinted at by the cover art, the forms and figures which make up Thronal feel tactile yet inert, abandoned, and desolate – perhaps the relics of an empire long-forgotten if the title’s any indication.
Fans of dark ambient, myself included, sometimes over-correct for misapprehension of the genre, going out of our way to highlight the range of colours, moods, and worlds a particular record expresses. That sort of amelioration just can’t be applied to a record like Thronal. Hell, even the austere resonance of The Nest takes on a certain statuesque lyricism from certain angles, but Thronal offers no such comfortable perspectives. This is bleak, unremitting, and monochromatic dark ambient wherein those unaccustomed to the genre will likely find no ingress. Seasoned initiates, however, will welcome the return of one of the field’s masters.