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Nyctophiliac Shares His Shadowy World with “Dark Side of the Mental”

It’s 3:00am and you’re sitting in a smoky jazz club, nursing a good scotch. Perhaps it’s your lack of sleep or maybe too much to drink, but suddenly things around you start to change and twist. The air is getting thicker, the music slower and darker. Suddenly, your drink is pouring like syrup, and you feel as though you’re sinking into the floor. The smoke has become a thick, gray fog and you’re lost in the midst of it, the band echoing somewhere off in the distance. It’s not frightening, exactly—just softly disorienting and vaguely disturbing. You might be passing out, or you may have accidentally fallen asleep while listening to Nyctophiliac.

This Macedonian beatsmith’s debut LP, Dark Side of the Mental, serves up seventy minutes of top-quality dark hop:  trip-hop’s grossly overlooked bleak and dusky twin. This self-described “dark, blunted jazz” incorporates thick, beefy bass lines with chunky grooves, sinister samples, and other subtle flourishes. With the exception of the clamorous amen breaks of “Murderous Intent,” all the tracks here are narcotically slow, dragging out their beats while dark instrumentals circle about in the echoing space, with an occasional Zorn-like saxophone squeal leaping out from the booming shadows, sonic boogieman-style.


And that’s one of the fascinating things here. A lot of dark hop outings are claustrophobia-inducing, compressed affairs, but this material is rife with dub-like qualities. Everything is drenched in reverb, so every bass bump and snare hit bounces off into the darkness. It’s certainly spectral and gloomy, but never oppressive or lugubrious. “Noir” describes it to a T, for it’s as if the whole thing is being passed through a sepia filter; imagine a chunkier, more “boom bap” version of Bohren & Der Club of Gore’s Black Earth and you’re starting to get the picture. I’m also vaguely reminded of Trevor Jones’s excellent Angel Heart soundtrack and, honestly, this record would not be out-of-place serving as the score for a dark film involving Faustian deals and stygian deeds.

It’s creepy, head-noddy, and brilliantly sinister.

Track List:

01) Enter the Temple
02) Dark Side of the Mental
03) Metamanoir
04) Blunted Session
05) The Chase
06) Pripyat’s Whispering Curse
07) Hidden Galaxies
08) The Cursed Gospel
09) Psychotropic Drums
10) Murderous Intent
11) Nycto’s View
12) Nyctophiliac vs. Likvidator – Killaz
13) IS-2
14) Post-War
15) Lynchian Ride
16) My Least Favorite Life
17) Isolation

Written by: Ben Hudgins
Label: Dusted Wax Kingdom (Bulgaria) / DWK335 / Digital
Dark Hop / Trip Hop / Chillout / Dark Ambient