Stars Without Light

Album Title: 
Beneath And Before
Release Date: 
Friday, December 15, 2023
Review Type: 


Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Members: Harlow MacFarlane (Funerary Call, Grey Towers Stone Temples, Between Voices, Sistrenatus, A Thousand Plateaus etc.)

Production: Harlow MacFarlane

Mastering: James Plotkin

Artwork: Lindsey Roderick

Type: compact-disc (300 copies) in LP-like format

Duration: 35:53 minutes

Genre: Industrial Horror Ambient


Stars Without Light is a (new?) outfit by multi-disciplinary musician Harlow MacFarlane, who hails from Canada (and not from Australia, which I accidently mentioned in some former reviews for other projects by this artist). It does differ from his other projects, for Stars Without Light explores sonic territories un(dis)covered before. With masterful curation of sound and catharsis, this shadowy entity coaxes the aural observer into a spectral Otherscape. Therefor, dixit the biography, this recording provides the score to a yet-to-be discovered, disintegrating film reel of the unknowable.

Beneath And Before brings a well-balanced mixture of different related genres: Dark Drone, Cinematic Ambient, Post Industrial, Field Recordings and Death Electronics. It’s an eclectic, somewhat cacophonous and experimental album, with noisy and atmospheric fragments smoothly mingled together. Most of the time, the result has an horrific, apocalyptic and twisted attitude, created through the chaotic yet, at the very same time, well-structured symbiosis of industrialized textures, digital manipulations, spectral drones, pulsating rhythms, mechanical noises, surreal loops, synthetic metallics, and ominous soundwaves.

The album comes with a high-kinetic energy, almost permanently pushing and roaring, creating a huge orbit of claustrophobia and discomfort. Yet then again, moments of introspection and imagination creep in between the mechanoid and electrified noise-sculptures, shaping and reshaping reality into fantasy, back and forward. This collage of strings, synths, percussions (mind Between The Columns!) and samples (with some almost secretive vocal malformations) exceeds normality through excerpts of militant authority, clattering field-recorded elementary, odious orchestrations, ritualistic sound-painting (take Echoed Reflection, for example) and eerie, even sci-fi-like ambience.

The result is a soundscore for unease and distress, a symphony narrating about a toxic, dilapidated world, where life is no more than a form of vitriolic slavery…