A°🄳+S/P°₂₃ – Monolith III (Sombre Soniks) – Review

Monolith III, the third installment in the collaborative series from A Demon Sheen and P23, is two hours of particularly deep drone-based ritual ambient.

Monolith is a good name for the series of dark ambient collaborations between Australia’s A Demon Sheen and Britain’s P23, a side project of the prolific ritual ambient Akoustik Timbre Frekuency. From a distance, it might appear as a featureless obsidian monolith, as it’s a single track clocking in at a little longer than two hours built around a single pulsing bass drone. Get closer, though, and you’ll notice all manner of details – fossilized ammonites buried in the stone, chiseled rivulets from millennia of being exposed to the elements, the dull prophetic gleam of the polished rock.

Likewise, there might not seem like there’s much going on with Monolith III. It’s aggressively patient to the point of being static, like a stationary camera capturing a scene in real-time until something as subtle as a passing shadow can feel like a major climax. By the time the slight gossamer guitars drift in around 37 minutes it feels like something major happening, despite being as subtle as a silvery glint of sunlight on a calm lake. It feels appropriate that the third chapter of the Monolith series features some sort of earthy, stony texture where the first two installments focused on water. Monolith III feels more tactile than the first two volumes, adding additional layers of acoustic instruments where the first focused more on pure sustained tones. It’s a fairly detailed soundscape, when you pause and attention, while still being as vision-inducing as the first two volumes, sounding something like meditating next to some vast shruti box or perhaps a buried high-voltage cable.

Monolith III is a challenging listen. In a lightning fast, media saturated, ‘go go go’ society, asking listeners to simply let sound flow around them like a river for longer than many theatrical releases is a big ask. It’s a challenge that pays off, though, fundamentally rewiring how you think and see the world. It’s a meditation and a portal, to a world of wide open skies and powerful rivers. It will take you places, if you let it.

As always, Kent’s Sombre Soniks prove themselves a vital source of interesting, thoughtful, magical ritual ambient.

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