Even without having seen James Hartley's Arrhythmia or knowing anything about the independently produced film, one can get a pretty good idea of what it's about by either listening to the bleak soundtrack by Polish composer and sound designer Adrian Aniol or even just scanning the track titles. Certainly “In a Darkened Room,” “3AM Revelations,” “The Way of All Flesh,” “The Dark Night of the Soul,” and “Slowly Downward” offer a strong sense of the bleak and macabre space inhabited by the fifteen-track collection. Arrhythmia, Aniol's follow-up to 2011's It All Falls Apart, his debut release on Utech Records, was self-released digitally in March 2011, but has now been slightly reworked and remixed for this first full-length physical release by Eric Quach's TQA Records. Quach has certainly given the release an elaborate presentation, given that a set of four photographs is included with each of its 100 hand-made copies.
Aniol receives a bit of help from saxophonist Russell Johnson and cellist Paul Martin, but otherwise everything on the release was composed and performed by Aniol. Clearly no one could accuse him of having created an ambient collection designed to blend subliminally into the background, even if, like ambient music in general, it is deeply atmospheric and beats-free. Instead, the album plays like a nightmare brought into sonic being and is more claustrophobic and disturbing than soothing. “In a Darkened Room” and “3AM Revelations” reveal themselves to be torture chamber music in the fullest sense when loud percussive slams violently punctuate their respective industrial-ambient gloom. During such unrelentingly dark pieces, one pictures diseased souls writhing in agony, their convulsed moans barely audible when drowned out by the cavernous surround. Though it's clearly not a recording intended for mass consumption, listeners with an appetite for dark ambient—dungeon dark, that is—will find Arrhythmia (the word, incidentally, defined as “an irregularity in the force or rhythm of the heartbeat”) much to their liking.