Mortiis – “The Unraveling Mind” album review


In 2006 Havard Ellefsen aka Mortiis got involved in composing film music for the first time. He wrote soundtracks for two horror films, “Broken” and “The Devil’s Chair”, both directed by Adam Mason. Ellefsen didn’t even have the opportunity to read the scripts. He knew very little about the plot, apart from the fact that some disturbed and sinister things would surely take place, like in any horror movie. He wrote a whole album’s worth of material. Although the majority of the music was never used, Mason included some samples in both films. Mortiis recently decided it was time for those tracks to see the light of day and on 4 June he released “The Unraveling Mind”; a dark ambient instrumental album which consists of 11 tracks that he recorded 11 years ago. Mortiis composed the tracks almost blindly. He described his workflow as slightly different than the usual approach to composing soundtracks, saying that it was more like writing music for the regular album. However, I can imagine that these tracks are perfectly suitable for horror themes. In addition, I feel that this music even exceeds its original purpose and it was the right decision to put it out in the album format.

Mortiis was previously known for his dark ambient records, which consisted of two 20-30 minutes long tracks. This release shows his ability to work within the classical song structure even when it comes to instrumentals. Dark ambient was always a part of his opus and with this release he introduces that part of his musical expression to the younger generation of his fans.

a2715469970_10The Unraveling Mind opens with “Hollowed”; an atmospheric, minimalistic piece with an unsettling feeling that follows us into the second number “Redeemer”, where it becomes even more intense. “Submit (Flux)” offers little in terms of melodical arrangements until the very end of the track. It builds up its feel around the repetition and creates the sense of anticipation and anxiousness that close to the end evolve into a simple but strikingly beautiful and soothing piano line. He builds up the piano theme in the sequel called “Submit (Subdued)” and offers more alleviating and calming atmosphere. This time he creates soundscapes and orchestrated arrangements around the core theme. This track is an absolute favourite of mine. It gives us feelings of hope, even in the macabre ambience of the horror movie. “Submit” can be viewed as another version of the previous instrumental with the same core theme, but with altered and intensified arrangements. “Surge” is the most minimalistic track. It can be described as a rather cleverly chosen collection of discomforting sounds. Another gem of the release is undoubtedly “The Unraveling Mind”. It is absolutely loveable for its subtle theme that you wouldn’t expect to find in this compilation of “horror” tracks. It disbands any restlessness. On the contrary, it creates the space of positivity, rest and balance within the release. It reminds me greatly of some of the Aphex Twin’s best ambient tracks. Excellent choice for the album title. “Thrall” brings us closer to the sound of the great discomfort. Dark themed tracks “Virosus-Amentia” and “Virosus-Silentium” offer a greater insight into disquieting part of this release. The longest instrumental “Zotheca” is presented as the last one. Will you be able to unravel the mystery of this release? You surely need to check it out. The release is available on vinyl for now. Apart from the regular pressing, Mortiis offers you limited edition colored vinyls with the original artwork by Stanislav Krawczyk included with each copy. There are not many of these originals left, so grab your piece before it sells out:

The CD and digital format will be available in the near future, so stay tuned!

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