Sataray – Nocturnum

One-person Seattle outfit Sataray is the brainchild of Katarina E. and purports to be a dark, ritualistic experience. Ploughing a live furrow over the last few years with her Performance Art-style shows, Nocturnum (Scry Recordings) is the first long-player from this enigmatic artist.

Opener ‘Dark Moon’ is as dark as its name suggests: Chamber Synth sounds decorated by a delicate whisper and shimmering incantations which grow more ghoulish as the track progresses. Despite the chilling atmosphere, there’s a strange sensuality to the breathy nature of the vocal performance, and this carries throughout the album. The stark ‘Icicle’ continues the same path as its predecessor, synth chords slicing through the air like a murderous church organ whilst those eerie emanations evoke the death throes of Time.

t’s a hypnotic, meditative sound despite the haunting vibe, ‘Moreifir’ continuing the likeness towards Om-style relaxation techniques but here sparing melodic twinkles and dry, deathly backward-masking add an extra dimension of fear. ‘Maleficum Pt.1’ darkens the mood even further with Blackened croaks rattling under the funereal, Eastern-tinged wailing. The multi-layered vocal carries hints of both the Purgatory-based horrors of Aevangelist and the poignant harmonies of Chelsea Wolfe, but the Ambient undercurrent lends an element of peace, the two complementing each other magnificently.

Those marrow-curdling chords take a slight Industrial turn on ‘The Fount’, with blurred shards of metal and dry roars giving a dystopian yet bizarrely lascivious effect, while a curiously soulful, resonant vocal gives the song a swelling heart. The lowing ‘Sparrow’ is nevertheless beautiful, mournful yet seemingly celebrating nature by mimicking the bird’s flight in Sound: while the closing ‘Maleficum Pt. 2’ rounds off this remarkable, bewitching album with more metallic, whispered hostility and the shimmers of evil.

It’s some feat to breathe glorious life into such a synthetic, occasionally crashing body while giving the tone of that life being torn away. Nocturnum is not the easiest listen but rarely are the things of most enlightenment.

Somewhere a light shines darkly…

8 / 10