HDR - 002 : Ancient Tundra - Requiems of a World Lost


Released: November 24th, 2008
Details: Pro-CDr, 4 page booklet/standard jewel case - Limited to 200 Copies
Genre: Dark Ambient/Minimalistic Neo-Classical

The beauty and desolation of winter… in music form.
By: Matthew Coughlin

It is the time of year which most people dread. The only bright side most people see to it is the holidays, which even then people stress themselves out financially. With the need of heating and the astronomical price of gas, why wouldn't you grieve? In addition to the cold, comes the wretched ice and snow. Waking up an hour or two earlier to your hectic schedule in order to dig out your car just to get on with your monotonous daily life. It seems as though the only positive perspective toward this seemingly horrid season, we call 'Winter' is in the eyes of a child. However with the industrialization of society and our need for transportational services, the beauty that cascades through the gentle flakes of snow, is tainted by the decay of sand and gravel creating a monotonous atmosphere of mundane misery.However, for some people, such as N. Skog, the mastermind of the Canadian dark ambient project Ancient Tundra, this cold, harsh and brutal season still holds an aesthetic beauty that seems to have long died out with modern society's living demands. I discovered this musical act was a hidden jewel among a small town in Canada; Tompkins, Saskatchewan about a year ago, and it along with Skog's numerous other musical endeavors, never cease to amaze me. While the style of music could be considered a form of easy-listening and probably would not be appreciated by the typical teenager or young adult, any appreciator of serious and meaningful music, would most likely fall in love with this act.
As a fellow independant musician, I have gotten to befriend the man behind the music, and was given the honor of receiving an early release of his forthcoming sophmore album entitled, 'Requiems of a World Lost' This release, nearing an hour in length, could be considered an LP because of its production. Apparently all the tracks were to be on two split albums, one with FjellElv and one with Njighadda. However, these releases were cancelled. This release also includes a song that was originally planned for Tundra's third CD entitled, 'La Misere D'un Hermite Oublie,' which is French for 'The Misery of a Long Forgotten Hermit.' However this album is a crucial release in its own because it marks a slight but not too drastic turning point in Ancient Tundra's style. This release is divided into two acts. Act I is entitled 'Act I: Oblivious Winter Realm ' and consists of four tracks. This particular act seems somewhat of a continuation musically from his debut album, 'The Desolation of an Arctic Landscape,' in that it focuses on the nature and winter influenced ambient music. While the latter half of the tracks seem more dark, this is the more uplifting and beauty influenced half of the CD.
'Act II: Fade. Rot. Decay. Perish.' however, still holding an aesthetic value, is much more dark and depressive, and while still technically being ambient music, is much influenced by the funeral doom subgenre of heavy metal music. This act also contains four tracks. Even though there are two distinct parts of this release Act I seems to become darker and darker gradually, making a perfect transition to Act II. Almost if the instrumentation tells a story.
While the majority of the album is instrumental, a few tracks have incorporated an eerie whispering and somewhat black metal influenced vocal line, although minimally, such as 'Et Demain Apporte Pas de Esperer (And Tomorrow Brings No Hope).' Therefore, the interpretation of the meaning of this masterpiece of an album is up to the listener. I myself, felt a somewhat esoteric emotion while listening to this CD. It felt as if I was having a nostalgic memory of childhood, along with love and nature, however later on in the album I felt an expression of destruction. As if all of this beauty had gone away, with the coming of my maturity. At the same time, this album feels like a symbolic analogy towards the life and death cycle.
A noteworthy fete of this release as well is its inclusion of multiple guest musicians. The track 'Across the Valley, Wherein Nature Speaks,' a more somber winter inspired piece, includes guest vocals from the acclaimed Japanese independent vocalist, Kenji Siratori. The New Zealand Black Metal musician, Mort also incorporated distortion guitar in an almost drone style to the track 'A Silent Void.' Then the concluding track 'The Feeble Sickness and Depressive Rot,' features a clean vocal style from Nick Skog's bandmate in his Gothic Metal project, A Dark Fantasy, who goes by the stagename Hideous.Perhaps the strongest track on the album is the opening song, 'The Natural Landscape of December.' Exceeding the other tracks with a length of 11:46, it's almost as though this song has two parts. It picks up the album with trancy synth-work that is somewhat repetitive but appropriately so. This will set the mood for the rest of the album. As it builds up it starts including lo-fi recordings of nature, seemingly the sound of a creek, one walking in the woods after a mighty blizzard and birds. At around 4:28 the droning feel starts to fade out and what appears to be almost a new track begins. This includes a synth-orchestral effect and an e-piano and is one beautiful tune. Unlike most of the other tracks and ambient music in general, this one incorporates a drum machine that keeps a beat and not just minimalist percussive rhythms.Other noteworthy tracks on this piece are 'Across the Valley…,' 'Glacial Dissonance,' 'Resting Beneath the Starry Gaze,' 'Et Demain Aporte…,' and 'The Feeble Sickness…' however all eight tracks are amazing and unique in their own, and one must listen to the album as a whole to get the whole experience of this magic.
The only flaw I see in this album are the production quality, however for a self-produced album, this is really well done. One other small complaint is that track one is a far greater track than the rest. The rest are very well made as well, but one is just that much better. This may cause listeners to continually play back this track alone and miss out on the beauty as a whole.On a final note, the artwork of this release is amazing, and fits the music greatly. The entire booklet is filled with photography that N. Skog took himself for his small company, 'Epic Canada Photography.' The logo is also in Black Metal vein and was designed by Malphas of Abyss Artworks, and complements the wintry soundscape of Ancient Tundra along with the artwork itself.
Anyone who is openminded towards truly expressive music, should definitely purchase a copy of this release. Fans of New Age, Minimalist, Ambient, Easy-listening, and even black metal should check this out, especially when the influences include, later Burzum, earlier Mortiis, Nortt, Xasthur, Northaunt, Symbiosis, FjellElv and New Risen Throne. I can also see fans of Enya really finding interest in this style. (97/100) While the CD's music and artwork is complete, Ancient Tundra's record label EEE Recordings, is currently having pro-CD's pressed for release in the Fall this year. For more information on Ancient Tundra and the release of 'Requiems of a World Lost' visit: http://www. e3recordings. com/ or email info@e3recordings.com. Ancient Tundra also has a myspace page at: http://www. myspace. com/ancienttundra.


VileNoise www.vilenoise.com
Ancient Tundra is a one man project whose primary purpose is to enlighten the frozen landscapes of the north. And I must say Mr. Skog is doing a nice job here!You can really feel the world in the clutches of winter, waiting for that painfully short summer to live fully before emerging into another long sleep.Melancholy of the opening tracks submerges me into romantic view of life in the north, but 'Glacial Dissonance' then helps me notice that in my romantic view I forget surviving in that part of the world has nothing or little in common with such view on things. What Mr. Skog is trying to emphasize throughout this album (in my humble opinion) is a constant conflict between the beauty of nature and the hardships of surviving, which is also done through compositionof the songs (tracks filled with melancholy and desire are followed by tracks full of despair).
What can be perceived as a minus, in otherwise nicely produced album, is here and there a feeling that he was listening to too much new age music at the time the album was done (i.e. the drums on the opening track). ;)If you want something for that long winter nights when you want to get lost in the romantic thoughts and leave your earthly worries to rest for a while, I give you my warm recommendation.

My verdict is: 7/10.


From: Winter Torments Zinewww.myspace.com/winter_torment
Ancient Tundra--Requiems of a World Lost pro cdr {hypnotic dirge rec.}
Ancient Tundra have created the perfect soundtrack to winter and all it's glory and dreary,gloomy presence. Beautiful ambient passeges mixed with some more harsher darker metal influence, leaving the listener with both a sense of how beautiful this season is, but also leaving a cold chill of despair within your soul at it's pure darkness. For fans of dark ambient music or fans of more obscure soundtrack type of dark music should appreciate this bands genius.


From: Christophe Szpajdelwww.myspace.com/christopheszpajdel
ANCIENT TUNDRA 'Requiems Of A World Lost'
Canada comes with a fantastic dark ambient project that contributed in the honing of my own Depressiv'Moderne concept, this is something very well made and finished, with a whole gloomy atmosphere even if this is not metal at all, this is proper dark ambient as i always dreamed it to be. All the songs are amazings but the strongest points are reached with 'The Years Of Isolation' and the absolutely fantastic finale with 'The Feeble Sickness and Depressive Rot'...a perfect song to make you cry if you feel the need of that magic substance called agrimony. it makes you cry until all your tears run dry if you feel this oppressive burden of grief looming upon you...Another indispensable masterpiece, for more info, hypnoticdirgerecords@hotmail.com or www.myspace.com/ancienttundra


By: Emperor Atazoth

The ability to feel nothing and to let yourself go is achieved in such brilliance of atmospheric sounds in the most purest form, to not worry or care, when all focus is on the cacophony of ambience this beautiful music portrays...
It seems each and every track has the feel of harsh frozen winters, which perfectly suits itself. From start to finish I felt shivers and chills throughout, as each part seemed well arranged, and the density on the reverb was perfect.
All though there was a slight problem with the sound as it did produce hiss and other unwanted sounds, while played through my computer, however, the music being so flawless, and the magnitude of my focus on this beautiful music, flushed out the worry of the unwanted sounds even to the point where my mind didn't register them. Nonetheless they are both flawless releases, and deserve the best possible reviews, my reverance is high for Ancient Tundra, and will continue to be so. From the day I recieved both releases till this day and so forth they they sit in my computer to be played on repeat. I am looking forward to future releases.


From: EEE Recordings Webzine After">www.e3recordings.com
After the amazing debut re-release of Ancient Tundra on EEE, now we have the even more brillant follow-up release. A brand new full-length presented in two parts/acts, each containing four songs each. The mastermind Nick Skog reaches back into his mental abyss for a plethora of classically inspired winter ambient hymns. The neo-classical influence is undeniable on this sophomore release. The song-writing, melodies and overall musical presentation has been upped ten-fold from the debut.Stepping more away from the sound that most dark ambient has been known to sound like, in favor of something more individual and personal. Listening to this album is muchlike traversing through the most wintry tundra, with nothing more than natural landscapes, howling winds, and the defeat of your own sanity to merel stay alive to accompany you. A masterpiece and template to what ambient artists of the future must aspire to, in order to really push the musical envelope.


From: Black Belle Webzine www.blackbelle.tk

An outfit bearing the moniker Ancient Tundra might well suggest that either the act is some cold black metal creation of the grim frostbitten coarse variety or rather that it is one of the increasingly prevalent ambient based entities who make the type of music ideal for film scores.In this case as it turns out Canada’s one man project Ancient Tundra, the work of one Nick Skog (who has a hand or two in an array of different things) falls solidly into the latter category, though not without hints and suggestions of the former.Anyone who is immensely captivated by dark ambience, atmospheric soundscapes and film soundtrack type compositions, mostly devoid of vocal embellishments this is certainly for you, anyone who doesn’t appreciate loops of repetition and wintry synth and key punctuated numbers often incredibly stark with depression it is probably not going to stir too much up in you.

'Requiems Of A World Lost' is the second album from the Canadian artist, the follow-up to his debut containing eight items that span the long player to just under an hour in total length, probably not long enough for the aforementioned sorts who revel in ambient drone and minimalism and an eternity for those who don’t.Almost twelve minutes of that approximate hour running time are soaked up by the long winded sprawl of first track 'The Natural Landscape Of December'.Equally repetitive and hypnotic this monolithic effort wades in on recurring waves of sound created by synth, spartan and chilly in these beginning formations before bestowing a cautiously stepping little tune upon the passages.Vague thunderstorms, chirping birds and other ambience nature embellishments come into play to merge with these synth and key creations that though curiously mesmerising and potentially trance inducing could ultimately wear out their welcome.Fortunately the whole eleven plus minutes of the piece aren’t composed of the same maddening swirl; around the four and a half minute mark a transition occurs with the track appearing to take on a different form.A curiously upbeat procession of synth notes almost orchestral in feel flounce in with a charming little melody bolstered by a steady beat of programmed drums.Darker vibes swim into it all with the introduction of thunderous storm dubs, electro stuff bordering sketchily on a sedated industrial sensation, and amazingly the whole thing manages to be both uplifting and yet desolately morose in the same breath, no mean feat that.

This gargantuan work is the albums crowning glory which means sadly that some of the compositions trailing in its epic wake tend to taper off and create declines in attention spans.'Across The Valley, Wherein Nature Speaks' which follows immediately after is one of those that suffers this fate somewhat, being a relatively frugal creature constructed of swathes of ambience married to film score keys, intermittent washes of dissonance and a couple of random bird chirps.There are some vocal additions to this, of the sibilant hissing whispered variety that do instil some ominous tones to the track but by the time they've superseded the repetitious lament of the earlier half interest has waned a tad.'A Dirge Toward Nihility' regenerates more intrigue with funeral doom type connotations.A well named track, it is indeed a dirge, winding spacey hazes of droning atmospherics around drops of keys before filling some of its dreary structures with spooky incantations, off the wall howls and horrific screams to lend a fearful quality to its construction.These abrasive vocals and very interesting, at times scary sounds work to elevate 'A Dirge Toward Nihility' above being another instrumental ambient soundscape.Nick Skog surely does have a gift for composing material that runs the gamut of emotive sensibilities and evokes multitudes of feelings through desolate despondency through to uplifting joy and without doubt this will strike a chord in a mature contemporary audience and all lovers of film score style music.I myself am pretty ambivalent about purely ambient music as a whole with far too many artists in a very overcrowded genre using it as an excuse to create mere indulgences and frustratingly alike soundscapes but many people simply can't get enough of it so this will be for them along with those previously mentioned types.

From: Nekrodeath Reviews and Interviews www.myspace.com/nekrodeath6_6_6
Ancient Tundra: Requiems Of A World Lost.

Undertaken by Old Man Nekro & Lady Nekro: Nekrodeath6_6_6 Reviews and Interviews

1.) Act I: Oblivious Winter Realm - The Natural Landscape Of December.
2.) Act I: Oblivious Winter Realm - Across The Valley, Wherein Nature Speaks.
3.) Act I: Oblivious Winter Realm - Glacial Dissonaces.
4.) Act I: Oblivious Winter Realm - Resting Beneath The Starry Gaze.
5.) Act II: Fade, Rot, Decay, Perish - A Dirge Towards Nihility.
6.) Act II: Fade, Rot, Decay, Perish - Et Demain Apporte Pas De Esperer.
7.) Act II: Fade, Rot, Decay, Perish - A Silent Void.
8.) Act II: Fade, Rot, Decay, Perish - The Feeble Sickness And Depressive Rot.

Ancient Tundra Hail from the cold depths of Canada and it is here that the inspiration is drawn from the surrounding bleak landscape creating the main driving force behind this musical phenomena. Ancient Tundra first left their mark on Canada in February of 2007 with the song "Ensomhet i Den Nordlige Skumringen" and it didn't stop here. By Novemeber 2007, the first issue of their work was released through Dead Moon Records and entitled 'The Desolation Of An Arctic Landscape'. This demo was a winter - themed, dark and ambient piece accompanied with minimalist sound and vocals. Then in June of 2008, 'The Desolation Of An Arctic Landscape' was re - released through EEE Recordings/ Hypnotic Dirge Records. N. Skog was so happy with both the bonus track and the hand written lyrics that he chose to stay with them for the fore seeable future.

This all brings us to now! The release I am here to speak to you about today is called 'Requiems Of A World Lost' and in comparison this is a more ambient release, but is split into two different Act's. Act I is entitled the 'Obvious Winter Realm', this portrays the nature and landscape through dream like synth work, providing a journey like aspect through the mind of the artist and the surroundings that behold him. This is possibly ambience at it's best! With uplifting sounds and samples within the first four tracks, it's a wonder how Ancient Tundra are not being placed amongst the greatest of ambient bands or been snapped up for their worthiness of soundtrack material.

With this in mind, there is the other side of the coin!

The darker and more sinister side to Ancient Tundra creeps through in Act II entitled: 'Fade, Rot, Decay, Perish. Obviously the use of Synth is a favourite, but it is here that we find the vocals are what provides the darker, more sinister edge these tracks. The dreamlike sound is lessened & the listener finds themselves on the edge of their seat as the atmosphere in Act II becomes more sinister and eerie.
Throughout this album, there an array of guest appearances, people who really battle for light & dark. Bringing dark guitar work is 'Mort' (Exiled From Light, Winds Of Sorrow and When Mine Eyes Blacken) and shedding a bit of bit of light on the situation is vocalist 'Kenji Sirtori'. This great portrayal of both light and dark is so professionally executed within both sides of the album. The concept of 'one' cannot exist without the 'other' is usually blasphemous within the genre, it is usually either one extreme or the the other and never the twain shall the two meet. This is until now and it is here that Ancient Tundra (N. Skog) has managed to capture the true and probably lost art of ambience.


From: Meridian 9 Magazine, Issue #3; Reviewer: Owen Wears
Ancient Tundra
Requiems of a World Lost
Hypnotic Dirge - 2008

Coming off the re-issue of his first album, Skog, Ancient Tundra’s sole member, was expecting to launch straight into a two split albums, one with Fjellelv, the other with Njigahdda. Sadly this was not to be. Instead the tracks composed for these two albums were compiled into what is now Ancient Tundra’s sophomore release “Requiems of a World Lost.” The two “halves” of this album follow different thematic concepts and run the gammet from quite pleasant to downright haunting and un-nerving. Tracks one through four are entitled “Oblivious Winter Realm” and fall into the mellow and easily accessible category. The melodies lift and flow like a cold, but not unpleasant winter wind. The listener is carried along by contemplative tones that create a marvelously calming yet cold atmosphere. Section two, “Fade. Rot. Decay. Perish.,” finish off tracks five through eight, and are far darker in tone and sure to appeal to all fans of Black Metal infused Dark Ambient. Here the listener gets to see what lies at the rotted underbelly of Skog's world of soundscapes. Here and there a guitar passage or a faded and haunting shriek can be heard slithering through the compositions. Finally adding a few extra touches here and there are several noteworthy guest musicians including Kenji Siratori and Hideous (A Dark Fantasy) on vox, and Mort (Exiled from Light, Winds of Sorrow, When Mine Eyes Blacken) on guitar. All in all this is a well rounded album that starts the listener off gently and slowly slides him/her into the depths of a frozen winter.
Wears – 7/10


From: Heathen Harvest Webzine www.heathenharvest.com

Ancient Tundra is a relatively new project to the black ambient realm, and strange it is for such a project to have a sound that they possess. ancient tundra is a Canadian project founded by N. Skog, whom also owns the label Hypnotic Dirge Records, known now for releases from such prominent artists as Immundus, Astral Luminous, and Neige et Noirceur whom also works with Dungeons Deep, a label working hard with extremely raw underground artists like Bladesmith / Bane & Illusion. Needless to say, Skog knows his way around the world of dark ambient textures and raw black metal hybrids, but in reality and ironically enough, his own project of ancient tundra seems to border more on the world of neoclassical ambient mixtures than anything currently on his label.

Requiems of a World Lost is divided into two very drastically different chapters ideologically. The first half, Oblivious Winter Realm, follows quickly on the heels of Christiopher Zeigler and his nature ambient project Vinterriket in its tone towards the natural frozen realms and the accompanying minimal yet melodic ambient music. Its clear that a vast amount of attention was paid to the composition efforts themselves, and as such ancient tundra's music comes off as a bit past the minimal approach into the nearly neoclassical territories. Unfortunately it sounds like nearly all of this album was composed with keyboards and field recordings. It would have been nice to hear some instrumentation to the album, but that would have taken away from the frigid approach molded within, giving the tone on the album warmth. ancient tundra can be seen somewhat as a mix between Vinterriket and Lycia, though perhaps he may not be influenced by either. Vinterriket's side has already been explained but there are moments in Requiems of a World Lost when the drum machine kicks in with minimal beats and an obvious machine-like quality that any Lycia fan will be able to pull reference from.

The adverse side of Requiems of a World Lost, Fade. Rot. Decay. Perish., is a strong departure from the initial nature-themed effort, this time focusing on the human realm, but in particular, nihilism and, seemingly, misanthropy. Both are a common lyrical tool used in the black metal realm amongst other underground 'dark' genres, so with the help of the blackened vocal style that sometimes takes hold on Requiems of a World Lost, ancient tundra inadvertently becomes tied to the realm of black metal. This separation of themes, however, isn't marked in any kind of composition change. In fact, the music is almost unfortunately too similar to the prior tracks. This marks the one downfall of Requiems of a World Lost – even with the unique separation in tracks, the music itself wasn't made to resemble the latter segment in any way. The music doesn't remind of nihilism, death, the loss of hope, but rather continues feeling like the natural ambient layers that have been playing since the first track. A Silent Void is really the only track that comes close to this inhuman trek, but it is indeed strikingly foreboding.

For fans of black ambient or ambient black metal though, especially what has been coming out of the Quebec scene in recent years (see: Sepulchral Productions), you'll want to check this release out! ancient tundra has a lot of delicate and majestic compositions to offer, it would be interesting to see what Skog could do with some acoustic instrumentation to accompany the intricate synth structures. The artwork itself is primarily of winter landscapes with the exception of the graveyard on the inner cover. The coloring is of a purple / blue hue and the art itself is rather grainy. The creation though is unique with layers being used rather than just a general picture like most releases of this caliber.