Some time during the last six months, my experience life began to take on a hazier perspective than it had previously held. While I can now link this to a lot of the energy draining health issues I’m experiencing, I didn’t have any idea at the time that my exhaustion was real and warranted. Promo emails stacked up unopened (or opened and added to a long to-do list that I addressed with ever-increasing delays. One promo that I opened but never responded to was Sorgsendömet Fobos, a reissue of the debut cassette from Tusen År Under Jord. It’s something I’ve been listening to constantly. I didn’t even recall who sent me the email or what the context was until I looked back on it to prepare this article some four months later. In a way, it’s fitting that I’ve had this album sink in with me instead of getting churned through my mind for a quick review. I think it’s provided a comfort I didn’t know I needed.
These six untitled tracks (each listed simply as “Sorgsendömet Fobos” I through VI) tread a strange territory where dark ambient atmospheres, crackling folk and classical instrumentation of indeterminate origin (seemingly plucked from discarded records), and death industrial’s percussion and oppressive weight all orbit each other like planets whose pull keeps them in permanent cycles of brilliant tension. It’s a balance of elements I haven’t found since Ulver’s Silencing the Singing and even then, this still stands separate in a similarly fascinating way. I find myself drifting through images of ancient villages lit only by candlelight, both ominous and entirely at peace in the solitude of night. I find myself hovering through empty spaces within my own mind. At times I even feel I’m witnessing the slow birth of a world reluctantly waking up to its own industrialization, a landscape of trees and valleys soon to be consumed by cities yet blissfully unaware of the impending immensity of humanity’s impact. It’s a haunting album that often bores its way into the listener’s skull subtly yet skillfully. I have next to nothing in terms of context yet I fear the more I know, the less I’ll be able to give this album its own space in my mind. This is the music of the dead sharing their secrets under the light of the moon, with neither intent to harm nor comfort. It simply exists.
There’s something haunting and frightening about Sorgsendömet Fobos, yet I feel only calm within myself when I listen to it. Perhaps knowing that the distant crackle is only the echo of something long forgotten makes it soothing. Perhaps the timelessness here is more calculated than accidental. Regardless of the reason, this is often the post-dusk soundtrack to times in my life that are so strange yet familiar, like the fleeting moments where consciousness dwindles in twilight and the imagination fills the mind before sleep stakes its claim. In such a short time, Tusen År Under Jord has created a sonic map of the fantastic places I’ve sought solace and crafted the stories of the beasts that used to haunt them. I can only hope to one day discover the physical location for these strange and beautiful sounds.