Mørkeblå is the project of Italian producer Alberto Rosso. His MO is summed up by the phrase “cosmic travels in dark blue”, itself a reference to his chosen moniker, the Norwegian for that shade. Working with a dark palette of sounds that drift in slow phases, his work touches on points of ambient soundscapes while pushing the listener in a more sinister direction. It’s not quite horror movie music, but it could well be used to fit that purpose. As well as his solo efforts, he’s also behind the Apparizione netlabel along with Luca Sigurtà and Rainbow Lorikeet, as well as recording with those two under the name Awkwardness. His first physical release has just dropped on Where To Now?, a label that has put out a series of oddball tapes and records since its inception last year. Following the online-only Omicron Rainbow release for Spanish netlabel Fracaso, which book-ended a 14-minute journey with two short vignettes, it expands on that epic approach with gusto.
There’s a feeling of bright hope and wonder at the outset, as “Mooloolite” presents scorched, distorted chords evocative of blinding sunshine across an icy wasteland. It hints at an expansive vision, of an enlightening journey. “Permanent Liminality”, however, is a confounding listen. The title refers to a point in ritual when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status yet have not begun their transition, it suggests a perpetual standing on a threshold, neither outside nor inside. Pained, nightmarish layered vocals hint at intergalactic rite, while chords that drudge along at once searing and overwhelmingly thick. Gasped breaths stab throughout the track, as if the mood wasn’t unsettled enough. Then, as if beaming down from above, a twisted theremin-like pitch evokes alien communication and sends a shiver through the spine, a piercing imposition through swathes of darkness.
“A Fish Hook In My Finger” is similarly unsettled, yet more ambiguous in direction. It opens with tones that shimmer and swirl as single notes play so far apart that melody is a distant memory. The creak of stone on stone, a Sisyphean drag or Ricardian shuffle, suggests creeping torment. This music is dark, yet wondrously so. A new theme enters four minutes in, a four-note phrase (unbound by the rigid structure of bar numbers) opens the piece up beyond its other-worldly sludge. Further worlds collide, as birdsong meets spoken word and beautifully rendered synths that hint at rebirth and awakening, rather than the undead. If the language here seems overblown, it’s only because this tape conjures up such vast imagery. While ambient soundscapes are wont to clear the mind or evoke calm lakes or sunny beaches, Nowhere, OK flips expectations and chills rather than chilling out.
Stream: Mørkeblå – Nowhere, OK (teaser edit) (Where To Now)
Mørkeblå – Nowhere, OK is out now on Where To Now? Buy here.