PATIENT OMEGA: Broken Mind In A Rotting Body
Release year: 2023
Label: Misantropia Records
I touched upon the issues relating to the thematics of instrumental music in my review of L’Ègarement D’Esprit’s album Written In Stone (here). I find myself returning to some of the observations made in that review when digging into Patient Omega’s album Broken Mind In A Rotting Body. In somewhat similar ways, I feel there is a small gap between the title of the album and the names of the tracks on one hand, and what’s actually to be found in the music.
Is it just coincidence that this is another dark ambient album, just like L’Ègarement D’Esprit’s? I don’t know.
When you hear “broken mind in a rotting body”, what do you think of? I’m thinking of something rotting, something utterly dark and hopeless, something oppressive and pestilent. Something that reeks of physical, mental and spiritual decay. Something that assaults you with negativity and nihilism. Patient Omega doesn’t do that. Scarcely surprising, as the mode of expression is dark ambient – neither abrasive nor assaultive are characteristics of that genre.
The album basically has two modes of approach. The first is one that echoes dereliction, desolation and emptiness: drawn-out metallic drones, clangs in the distance, hollow echoes through steel tubes, mystic voices from the distance. These might be the sounds of an abandoned, decayed mental asylum. Pretty classic dark ambient, full of vaguely disconcerting, haunting atmospheres and mysterious, eerie moods.
The second is far more incongruous with the track names and album title. Layers of calm, even harmonious and soothing astral synths full of the endless expanses of space; of traversing spheres and planes of existence, witnessing unfathomable sights. Where the desolation and eeriness of the first approach can somehow represent the mental images evoked by the album title, these moments of cosmic expanses do not. Well, in my mind at least.
Disregarding this gap between thematics and music, Broken Mind In A Rotting Body is an entirely competent album of pleasantly varied dark ambient – the kind with more than one trick up it’s sleeve. Going from eerie desolation to the wonder of endless darkness, the album’s long, winding tracks are like journeys through vast vistas of mental landscapes; from haunted ruins to the eerie emptiness of eternity. Tastefully used percussions add a little physicality to the music without ever becoming too demanding, and the occasional more “active” musical element – such as the trance-synths in album closer Exit: Eradication Of Human Emotion – break the surface a bit, giving something to pay attention to. But at the same time, like dark ambient should, the album allows itself to be relegated into the background, as atmospheric but suitably unintrusive ambience for reading or writing.
The fact that I quite like the album – whilst it might not contend with the classics of the genre, it’s far above the glut of generic, stereotypical dark ambient – makes me think about the perceived gap between thematics and music. Is there a way to reconcile it? Sure enough, opener Act I: Hidden Psyche Reveals The 7th Circle certainly hints at more mystical, esoteric readings of the thematics, whilst Act II: Dissolving Of The Self Through Ritualized Pain could perhaps allow for understanding the astral, harmonious synths as depicting the dissolution of personality into the boundless Kosmos. Perhaps there is a more metaphysical, symbolic level to the seemingly in-your-face imagery of the album title?
Where with L’Ègarement D’Esprit the album didn’t impress me enough to make me try very hard to discover the themes from the music, Patient Omega inspires me to at least give it an attempt. And, I guess that’s the bottom line, which says what needs to be said about Broken Mind In A Rotting Body: though it’s got its flaws, it’s an intriguing album. One which makes you want to at least try to understand it.