I was on a slow train through the Sussex countryside. The sky dark and grey, filled with rain. Passing partially flooded fields and winter bare trees and woodland. The South Downs was barely visible, shrouded in low cloud. The train stopping at one bedraggled Victorian station after another and the rain lashing against the carriage windows.
Los Angeles, by contrast, with its glorious Mediterranean like weather was a world away. Yet, the LA based, Rory Mohon’s debut album, Darkly Dreaming was a near perfect accompanying soundtrack to my slow, bleak journey.
Darkly Dreaming plays out like an imagined, bleak, film noir score, using synth’s and reverberating guitars to replace the traditional orchestra. A dark, scary, cinematic, electronic score.
Later that same day, home and toasting my chilblains in front of the wood burner, listening to Darkly Dreaming, this time through the stereo, I was again transported into Rory’s imagined world of night terrors.
The opening song, “Reverse The Process” a woozy introduction to the 17 track album, sets the tone of shadows and lurking forms. On “Zodiacs” with half snatched, jumbled words and on “Apparitions” with it’s almost heavy metal guitars, the shadows seem to team with life. “Guitar In A Cathedral” with its layers upon layers of electronic pads and haunting hook is a sublimely foreboding.
Darkly Dreaming also has songs like “Bats” and “Victorious” which wouldn’t sound that out of place, filling a late night dance floor.
Elsewhere, the enveloping, oppressive beauty of “Binary Dreams” and “Day Turns To Night” are hypnotic and scary in equal measures.
The clever use of panning and phasing on “Everything At Halfspeed” and “Driving In Reverse” is delightful in its disorientation. Darkly Dreaming is deliberately disorientating. In the “The Changeover” for example, the song starts, eerily creeping along before dramatically becoming a chase scene!
Darkly Dreaming fits comfortably into what’s beginning to feel like a new scene developing around Synthesizer music. Dark synth, dark ambient, electronic/electronica, synthwave albums are evolving into a more cinematic sound. The late 70’s and 80’s classic horror score sound is clearly an influence on Darkly Dreaming, but with the use of guitars and an ear on the 2020’s Rory Mohon builds an entire new world around the feeling of dreaming, darkly.
Darkly Dreaming is like listening to a musical tribute or accompaniment to Henry Fuseli’s masterpiece “The Nightmare”
180g coloured vinyl. Mastered by Burning Tapes and cut at Abbey Road Studios with a download card and liner notes by Vehlinggo’s Aaron Vehling. Artwork by Mark Swan (Kidethic).