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"Inhabit Cold Mirrors" Is an Impressive Debut from Long-Standing Seattle-Area Musician Horns Valder

Inhabit Cold Mirrors

Inhabit Cold Mirrors

Inhabit Cold Mirrors is a new ambient project from Horns Valder, who has off-and-on been making various forms of noise, ambient, and black metal for well over a decade somewhere near Seattle, Washington. This is, I believe, his first official release, with virtually everything else having been random collections of songs that he, occasionally joined by friends, self-released and mainly handed out to others. While this is by definition a debut album, it should be clear that Horns Valder is hardly a new musician in any sense of the word. Inhabit Cold Mirrors is also the first album for Void Nectar—a new label also ran by the same person who did the incredible packaging. The artwork itself looks like an atomic structure of sorts, and it appears like it was made from some strange thin glittering metal found on a distant planet, which is all very fitting for the music.

Things begin with an ambient piece that could easily be part of any random black metal album that we are all familiar with.  “Saphire Sun” [Ed. Note: as spelled in the track list] retains all of this while adding an inorganic beat, yet somehow retains an atmosphere of being alive. It sucks you into your reflection and spits you out into other worlds, returning you afterwards just as you were, while the album’s longest track, “Cosmic Duality,” takes you deep into the outer fringes of space.  This track truly sounds like an epic voyage, following an impressive nearly thirteen-minute run time, and takes on an atmosphere that borders on that incredible feeling which astronauts always describe when they leave the atmosphere and experientially recognize that they are no longer on planet Earth. These multiple layers create the strongest journey on the album, centered around vocals that are buried in the mix. It is a massive track that alone deserves your attention.

Horns Valder

Horns Valder

Later tracks take various twists and turns, even incorporating elements such as guitars and percussion.  The various methods used to create the music are admirable, stopping at nothing to discover the correct tools to develop the most fitting sound. Various synths add a depth to the music that is rarely heard in other similar projects; so rare it is, in fact, that when you really listen, you can hear numerous layers working and weaving harmoniously together, evolving order out of chaos in an elaborate way. The one issue that I find with this is that all of these different structures do not create the most linear of albums, leaving Inhabit Cold Mirrors feeling more like a compilation of tracks rather than a cohesive album. While they all are clearly from the same mind, a song like “Etheric Cell” could easily have fit into an industrial black metal project, while another is more fitting for a dungeon synth sound. What this means is that Inhabit Cold Mirrors is generally a great collection of tracks for newcomers to Horns Valder’s creations to discover as his previous work has finally congealed well here after years of various interconnected projects. I can only hope that this is the beginning of a new, more focused chapter for the Pacific Northwest musician, for the depth of this album is astounding and well worth seeking out for anyone who has a love for synthesizers and cold, foreboding music.

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Track List:

01) Solar Declination
02) Saphire Sun
03) Cosmic Duality
04) Crystal Structures
05) Phantom Vessel
06) Robe of Sorrows
07) Etheric Cell

Written by: Patrick Bertlein
Label: Void Nectar (United States) / VN001 / CD-R, Digital
Ambient / Space Ambient / Dark Ambient / Electronic