Anyone familiar with the repurcussions of flooding their stereo with the rich, all-consuming, char-stained tones of atmospheric dark ambient music should know the name Yen Pox. Masters of the style, the duo of Steven Hall and Michael J.V. Hensley don't simply mirror darkness with these oppressive, one-ton soundscapes, they become it. The darkness can't be confused with a dismal connotation, however. There is a thriving array of subtle manipulations and strong nuances that breath life into each thick swell of noise.
Their debut CD, Blood Music, unleashed five years ago, marked one of Malignant's first releases. Now Yen Pox has returned with their much-anticipated follow-up. New Dark Age is to the listener of harsh, intense music as Pachabel is to the flakey new-age crowd -- a nice, relaxing escape. The fact that the disc is broken up into six tracks is fairly inconsequential; the only way to really listen to this material is in its complete, 65-minute form. It simply looses its immense feel and vast qualities if you start in half way through the disc or cut it off prematurely.
To say that New Dark Age requires a certain mood would be an understatement. It would make a great soundtrack for a shadowy, slow-moving, black and white silent film, with just enough visuals to retain the mysterious, haunting bent of the music. Either that or you can just play it while handing out candy on halloween like I did.
Once again Malignant delivers the goods and lives up to their own high standard of quality they've set for themselves over the years. And between Yen Pox and Blood Box, their equally impressive side-project, releases from the two form a substantial portion of their catalog. Hopefully some of the sticky issues that arose in the release of this disc will smooth over for additional Yen Pox releases in the future. One can only hope there won't be another five years to wait.