Time was on their side, for once, and the corona-zeitgeist provided plenty of inspiration for new atmospheric releases. 'Between Worlds' is one of those long due cooperations and it has become something to enjoy for a long, long time, even after this whole craziness is behind us.
I don't think I need to introduce either Ashtoreth nor Stratosphere to the Merchants Of Air audience. Both acts are residents here and most of our writers are big fans. Besides, they have worked together before and those cooperations, too, have been highly acclaimed on our website. You can also quite often find them on a festival line-up together, or better, you could have, since enjoying live-music is now a dangerous threat to society. Anyway. let's just say that Ashtoreth and Stratosphere are no strangers to one-another. They have earned their stripes in the ambient scene with their high quality soundscapes.
Yet, there is a difference between both artists. While Stratosphere mainly focuses on cleanly produced guitar drones and soundscapes, Ashtoreth tends to dive into the darker, occult side of things. One is the technical perfectionist, the other loves to jam and improvise. It's that "opposites attract" feeling which makes "Between Worlds" such an interesting album. It combines both worlds so well, it might as well lure in a whole new group of ambient fans. Why? Because this is a surprisingly accessible piece of work. Most of the songs are rather short, thus perfectly suited for DJ's to play them in between Brian Eno and Eluvium.
Opener 'Evoke' is a gentle song. Yes, an instrumental song, not an ambient anthem. For that, you'll need the fascinating closer 'Between Worlds'. That's a seventeen minutes lasting masterpiece of drone ambient. Nothing less. For me, that is the absolute highlight of the album but certainly not the only brilliant tune. Second on my list is 'Distance', a bit more intense and harsher than the others. Trippier too. That's a word now. Number three in my top is the dreamy yet impending 'Awake'. That being said, although I immediately liked the overall sound of the album, I feel like it's a grower. I'm currently playing it for the fourth time and it gets harder to pick out the favorites.
The verdict? Overall, I'm convinced that this is an excellent cooperation between two highly talented artists who know each other quite well. The production is clean and modest, which every fan of drones and ambient will appreciate. Seriously, these dudes deserve their place between the ambient-elite by now so I recommend this album to every fan of the genre, as well as to post-rockers, shoegazers and psychrockers who feel like relaxing for a while. I am already looking forward to their next output because I feel that there is a lot more to be explored and discovered between these two brothers in drones...