Flowers for Bodysnatchers: Love Like Blood
Cryo Chamber

The word cinematic is thrown around fairly casually when the genre in question is ambient, so much so that it's become a rather irksome cliche. But there's really no way to avoid using the term when presented with Love Like Blood, Duncan Ritchie's latest Flowers for Bodysnatchers release and companion recording to his Dark Ambient opus Aokigahara. Based on the evidence at hand, Ritchie deliberately deploys his creative powers in the service of evoking filmic scenes in aural form, whether it be those of a bone-chilling nature or ones less harrowing.

Love Like Blood centers on feelings of despair wrought by romantic turbulence (“love lost, found, and lost again”), but there's little need to get too hung up on a story-line when the material succeeds so well on purely visceral terms. There is both a sense of mutating flow and structure to the recording, the latter instated by having piano-based settings frame the release. His talent for scene-painting is apparent from the first moments of the downtrodden opener, “The Obscure You Deserve,” wherein brooding piano figures drift through a mutating mist of atmospheric gloom and suggestive real-world sounds. As vivid is “Time Shall Heal No Wounds,” which closes the recording in a spirit of peaceful resignation with heartfelt piano expressions drenched in rain and shadowed by cawing crows.

While the album as a whole is evocative, certain tracks impress as especially strong in that regard. During one sequence, a swarm of buzzing flies hints that a rotting corpse lies nearby, whereas “A Disease Called Love,” perhaps the album's most vivid setting, distills an entire horror film into seven minutes when clanking chains echo from some buried chamber and electronic tones, harpsichord tinkles, and percussive accents pierce the gloom. Visuals are hardly necessary when the sound design is so rich and its details so plentiful.

What argues heavily in favour of the Flowers for Bodysnatchers project is the appealing balance Ritchie achieves between the musical and atmospheric dimensions. There's no denying the effectiveness with which he sculpts moods using field recordings and electronic techniques, but the inclusion of piano, strings, and synthesizers elevates the material by ensuring it satisfies musically, too.

September 2016