Nightmare Spirit

Album Title: 
Summer Sleep
Release Date: 
Friday, May 3, 2024
Review Type: 

Very recently, I got in touch with David from the totally frenzy Illinois-based label No Sides Records. Once in a while, this label releases a bunch of things on tape or compact-disc, dwelling in spheres of Ambient, Electronics, Techno, Jazz, Impro, Avantgarde, Drone, Industrial, Classical, Chiptune, and much more. Sometimes things sound serious, then again it’s just hilarious or cynically-meant. But it works (most of the time)!

A new drop will follow very soon, on May 3rd, with no less than eight articles. If the Gods of Time grant me the gift of timelessness, I will have all of them reviewed in the near future, but let’s start with Summer Sleep, an effort of Kentucky-based act Nightmare Spirit. This is an outfit by Josh Lay aka Hellwulv, whom you might know as well from projects or bands like Black Knife, Cadaver In Drag, Glass Coffin or Temple Of Rot. It is, and I quote, ‘a study of energy from the sun, a slip in sanity, astral projection and the abyss of the mind’. The project ‘continues to explore the dark recesses of the mind and the haunted hallways of the human spirit’. The EP was initially self-released on July 1st 2023 via digital sources, and will be re-issued now on compact-disc.

This release consists of four short songs, having a total running time of fifteen minutes. It goes on in the vein of the former material, i.e. a self-faced approach of quite traditional yet captivating Dungeon Synth. It comes with a specific fantasy-element, which would do fine within game-milieus as well as heroic sagas / movie series episodes. Besides, this material is quite diverse with an amount of fine additions and unique details.

Summer Sleep opens with the title song (the lengthiest track with its duration of five minutes), which starts with a somewhat sad, nostalgic piano melody. Soon melancholic keyboards enter; first one single line, then climbing up towards a richer sound palette, yet still doomed and cold. After a minute and a half or so, a steel-drum alike instrument, and distant drum parts join, while the synths expands, slowly yet steadfastly, into a rather explorative territory. On a rainy moment, like just now, as we speak, as I am writing these phrases, this specific piece simply accompanies my burdensome mood with enlightening pleasure. A Glowing Path Appears has more of a ‘cosmic’ execution, with astral, medieval and fairylike spots of finesse. Also Sun Chasing The Moon contains that extra-dimensional world of fantasy, though the acoustics offer a tranquil, almost mesmerizing atmosphere. Subtle elements from Dark Ambient veil this song in a nebula of esoteric gloom. Sunset, finally, returns to the purest essence of old-styled Dungeon Synth, where dread, awe and mystery float by, hand in hand, like an icy wind softly caressing the skin of a lonely soul. Multiple synth-layers mingle well together, interacting at first, and evolving toward the end into a majestic wall of nightmarish spirituality from no side (hehe, this last fragment, ‘nightmarish spirituality from no side’, is a word-play, evidently, yet it does fit the concept for sure).

Anyway, despite its short length (just one quarter of an hour), Nightmare Spirit has a fine collection to offer, with the necessary differentiation yet also a mature cohesion. This project has some well-thought ideas, which work just fine in combination with the tradition of the scene…