Album review: ‘Movements of Night’ by Secret Pyramid (on Students of Decay)

We all have our preferences and biases.  When I see the words dark, drone, and ambient used together to describe an album, I approach the music very tentatively.  Will it be a dense slab of sound that, while having artistic merit, fails to engage?  Will it create tension without resolution?  Will it be a chore to listen to?   Those three terms have been used to describe ‘Movements of Night’ by Secret Pyramid (the recording moniker of Vancouver based sound artist Amir Abbey), but my preconceptions (or prejudices, some might argue) evaporated as soon as the first song began to wash over me and draw rich emotions immediately to the surface.

The drone element of ‘Movements of Night’ turns out to be a rich loam which Abbey, like a patient gardener, turns over & over to breathe in air and sunlight, and in which he plants seeds of melody that slowly blossom.  A deep melancholy bordering on a sense of loss does haunt all the tracks, and perhaps that is what evoked my strong emotional response to the music, sometimes nearly to the point of tears.  But they are also imbued with a transcendent grace so that the album never becomes maudlin or brooding.

The album is also sequenced very nicely.  ‘A Descent’ and ‘Quiet Sky’, the two pieces that open the album, are simply sublime.  The next track, ‘Closer’, is a bit more solemn and explores deeper drone territory before surfacing for air with the elegiac ‘To Forget’.  The latter serves as an excellent centerpiece which builds beautifully and moves along with a gently pulsing and melodic bass line before diffusing into the more meditative ‘Move Through The Night’.

This is brings us to perhaps the darkest portion of the record as we dive into a field of hazy distortion with ‘Wish’ and then briefly hold our breath, as if floating in deep waters, with ‘Depths’.  Finally, we can exhale and reflect with the closing track, ‘Escape (Fade Out)’, perhaps the most melodic of all the songs, and one which is full of beauty and satisfying resolution.

‘Movements in Night’ is simply a wonderful record that has altered my expectations for what drone oriented ambient can offer.  Amir Abbey has created an enthralling, deeply emotional, and beautiful record which I can recommend unreservedly.

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