CD Review

A Murder Of Angels - "While You Sleep"

By Mike Ventarola

While You SleepLineup:

1. Bryin Dall
2. Derek Rush


1. Necrosis Reversal
2. Manuscript
3. Wandering Soul
4. Lurking Gentlemen
5. Melting Across The Night
6. Tribunal
7. Suspended In Frozen Misery
8. Opaque Atmosphere
9. The Ninth Circle

Middle Pillar breaks new ground yet again with the release of A Murder of Angels' CD entitled While You Sleep. The company creatively coined the term dambient for this work which is a dark ambiance hybrid. This instrumental work meshes spoken words, shouts, whispers and minor dialogue between some of the darkest sounds of eerie delight. The music is an amalgamation of mournfulness, anxiety and fear set in full bodied texture to enlist the wakening of all of one's senses. This disc accomplishes in not only making you see some of the horror, but smelling, touching and tasting it as well. On this, Middle Pillar's third label release, we are treated to the dark ghosts that lurk within the shadows of our own psyche. This disc is at once haunting and haunted. Every listen will provide multiple fragmented images to splay itself across the mind. We are a mute witness to a mental cinemascope as the metallic residue of fear hewed bile plays across our tongue.

Necrosis Reversal has us enter into a dark nebula with backward dark drones which instinctively cause the listener to have mental images of spinning headlong through a tunnel. We drift into the catacombs of sounds that echo from a displaced time and are clearly asked "who are you?" As our brain entrains towards the alpha level of slumber, the sound takes us on what feels like a Medieval horse ride while still staying connected to the dark drones as our guide. The ride progresses to unclear shouts from this twisting cloud. Are we crossing the barrier to the other side? We are frozen as silent spectators to the echoes and bellows that emanate between the music. A steady electronic pulse keeps time with our beads of sweat, as we thrash from this somnambulant nightmare. Haunted and haunting, we cannot stop listening even as the final refrain asks in a singsong voice, "did you ever see a dream?"

Manuscript's opening reminded me of the outdoor section of a futuristic prison. The sky is dismal and gray with flecks of cold drizzle hitting against our skin. I can't help but be reminded of Dickens as the audio transmits a feeling of flying with an enigmatic and dreaded companion to view things we may not care to see. Voices sound as though they are from a metallic speaker set atop a high wooden poll. Scenery changes allow for the many fragments to come forward. We can see a book of indescribable power calling forth the guardians of the dark to escort us further along our quest. A full bodied orchestration pleads to come forward yet the invisible barriers keep them at bay. The energy of intonation continues to rise and fall until we are left with a crescendo of dark cacophony, orchestra and musical wailing that pull our spirit right from our bodies. We once again hear the voices from the speakers as we rouse from our terror filled travel. We do not linger here as we have many more areas to explore.

Wandering Soul leaves us in a cavern of the deepest recesses. Gloom is pervasive all around us now as we see there is no escape. Musical footsteps walk us through the many yawning mouths in this cave as we seek for a way out. Each step leads us back to where we started. It is grim and hopeless.

Lurking Gentlemen reminds this reviewer of sounds like the dark alley of a major city. All forms of vice are played out between the shadows. We shake out of our reverie to anxious music. We have been surrounded by dark characters. Musically and sonorously we cannot see what is happening due to the ambiguity of the notes. We once again find ourselves spiraling into another level as the hinges of a gate squeaks repeatedly. It ends with anxious, discordant notes similar to the apprehensive tones of a horror movie.

Melting Across the Night begins with a dark downbeat and a deep male voice that is indecipherable. Many other voices whisper and speak as the music plays a tense reverie. Is this the voice of our dark guide? We continue to drift through the night, looking at the dismal world of our existence below us. We then are briefly treated to an Orson Welles style narration of the story the "Little Match Girl." Upon the tale's end, the earlier haunted sounds proceed to take up the atmosphere leaving us questing and questioning.

Tribunal opens with thunderous sounds and backward playing high notes that echo and gape into yet another dark area with mysterious voices floating overhead. The dark energies converge and twist all around us as we near the next point of visitation. Who or what presence are we in the company of? Is the approach of our annihilation upon us? The music holds us tensely while the sound effects plaster us against the hidden walls of our psyche that we are creeping along. Choirs chant and sing in reverse as we hear the juxtaposition of energy and fast flying notes to indicate rapid movement. We are not meant to linger long here.

Suspended in Frozen Misery sounds like the underwater grave of a sunken vessel. All is dark and the only company is the floating debris of darkened algae and echoes of metal from undersea settling. We are breathing though we are in this watery abyss. The music and effects intersperse nicely to provide yet another tense filled atmosphere. One can almost hear the corpses screaming from their aquatic tomb, begging for someone to avail their release. We swim frantically to what sounds like a breathless escape. Out of the water and free from the pursuing nautical undead, we still hear the echoes of the sunken ship clanking its door. It is calling us back to take refuge among its eternally damned.

Opaque Atmosphere conjures images of a thick dark mist ever encircling on the perimeters of hell. Voices call out from the mist and subtle percussion and horns lure us to peek within. Once inside, we are in another barren cave. Sounds evoke imagery of things flying past us. Indecipherable tones and voices yet again call from beyond the nether reaches of this void. Each step we take is accompanied by another image of horror and fear. The paralyzing screams and hollers mingle with more musical discord to raise the taut emotional groundwork that has been reached thus far.

Ninth Circle thunders open and briefly conjoins with an angelic voice. This is replaced by dark moody bass tones and the sound of crows off in the distance. The melody builds as dragging footsteps painfully trudge through this dismal journey. Circuitous music whirls around touching us as it brings us back to wakefulness from our nightmare.

A Murder Of Angels manages to provide an unusual backdrop to allow listeners to experience a waking nightmare. Many sounds blend to create a dreary world which is further enhanced in an unlit room while wearing headphones. This body of work goes beyond stark to provide a vista devoid of any light whatsoever. Playing this totally changes the environment you are in to add the right touches of gloom and doom. This reviewer must admit to being hooked to this CD and finds it rather inspiring while redecorating my own gloomy abode. I must caution you, however, due to a recent experience while playing this CD. Should you have friends that are not into dark music, While You Sleep will unnerve them quickly and cause them to leave.

Contact Information:
Post: Middle Pillar, P.O. Box 555, New York, NY, 10009
Phone: (212) 378-2922