I can’t help but love a good, dark, and dreamy ambient album. Aythis’ new record Secrets from Below checks all of those boxes, and even more. The album released on April 2nd and is one of the more soothing experiences of the 2021 so far.
Aythis hails from the Netherlands. The project is a solo outing for an artist named Carline Van Roos. She seems to handle everything here, from composition to performance to production. This is truly Carline’s vision from beginning to end.
She offers music that is ambient, but on the metal side of things. I could use adjectives like “Gothic” and “hazy”, or genre labels such as “shoegaze” and “post-rock”, but none of those truly represents the sound here. It’s a bit of all of those things, but also something more hypnotic, entrancing, and absorbing. Aythis gives us a river of subtle emotion, downtempo rhythms, and even strangely alluring synth tones. The music often plays like a delicate film score with hovering accents and ethereal vocals.
Secrets from Below is a drifting, beautiful record. Songs are usually based around a central melodic idea, and Carline does a great job of enhancing and progressing those ideas. Most of the tracks are fairly long—between six and eight minutes—and so the atmosphere is of utmost importance. The album does not disappoint in this respect, as it floats strikingly in a mist of vapor, light, and determination.
I appreciate every track on the album, even if many of them sound quite similar. The album is one to hear straight through, rather than through random individual tracks. The first half of the album is tender and pretty direct with its ideas, such as the ambient metal of “Just Like a Tear”, the lingering beauty of “Faint Butterfly”, or the vivid ambience of “Ashes”.
I will say, though, that the second half is stronger. “When Your Ghost Wanders” is a vibrant track with some energetic shoegaze moments, “The Light That Turned Into Crystals” has plenty of character and quirk, and “Homelights” and “Facing the Shadow” both have otherworldly, mesmerizing qualities that make them my favorites overall. On the Bandcamp version, the album has a bonus track, a cover of the Twin Peaks theme called “Falling”. This song is excellently conceived, with lots of dark whimsy and subtle radiance. It feels very much part of the album.
Aythis has a gorgeous work for us here. Secrets from Below is one of those albums that allows for new discoveries upon each new listen. I love the radiant atmosphere and dreamy textures, most of which feel like I could reach out and physically touch them. And I love how relaxed and pensive the music makes me feel. I’ll definitely be listening more.
Find Aythis online: