REVIEW: Silent Watcher of Dark Matter - "Installation" & "Deep Space"

By Marcus Pan

Chain Border has become home to a number of truly eclectic musical outfits. Regardless of your wishes - leftwing, trance, ambient, noise, experimental, even comedy - you can find it on this site. And while is currently embroiled in a bitter fight with its hosted bands since their purchase by mega-corp Universal, you can still find some really whacked out shit here.

One of the latest to come into the Legends review office was a triplet of CDs from dark ambient artist Silent Watcher of Dark Matter. With three CD releases under the outfit's belt, they've been creating their soundscapes since 1999. They began with Installation, followed that up with Quiet Garden three months later and earlier this year (2001) released a double-CD entitled Deep Space that was influenced by 2001: A Space Odyssey. All of these are available - guess where - at on the site's DAM CD system.

Deep SpaceIt's very difficult to discuss the music of Silent Watcher of Dark Matter. For one thing, "silent watcher" is definitely truth in advertising as the artist him/herself doesn't do all that much to the backgrounds created. Manipulations are subtle and introspective - if at all. While true, in-depth fans of dark ambient might relish the work of SWoDM, I fail to find much enjoyment with it simply because it's almost like there's nothing here. Oh sure, there are sounds and background noises, but for the most part they don't do anything. They just kind of drone on and on. Ambient noise is just that - noisy. And while it must take a good five minutes or so to get the synthesizers to make this particular noise, and then another five minutes to decide to use it, I fail to see much musical arrangement going on here.

However if I had to pick a favorite, Installation would be it. Simply put, there's more here. A total of six tracks, from the opening Bipolar Outflow to the closing Surface [Edit], there's more arrangement shown here than the 2-CD Deep Space collection. Both Deep Space and Deep Space II contain three tracks apiece, ranging in length from just over ten minutes to the whopping The Shrouded World that tops a half hour. In one track. It's mostly repetitive, looping, synthetic drones, as I said before, and doesn't leave much room for discussion of Silent Watcher's music.

The bottom line comes down to a conversation piece I typically throw into discussions whenever experimental, noise or ambient music comes up. And that is, "If I wanted to listen to noise I'd open my window." That is the case here. While I'm sure SWoDM put loads of time into fussing around with and playing with all those neat-o dials on his synthesizers and digital equipment, it's not music. It's noise. I don't see any level of arrangement here - and if there's no musical arrangement, it can't be music.

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