Samarkande | Douglas' Basement

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Electronic: Ambient Electronic: Experimental Moods: Type: Experimental
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Douglas' Basement

by Samarkande

SAMARKANDE here explores voice, text and rhytmic arrangements while preserving the tormented and dramatic aspect that distinguishes their sound. The result is dark electronic music.
Genre: Electronic: Ambient
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Catharsis
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15:58 $1.99
2. Douglas' Basement
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4:11 $1.99
3. Pray hard but pray with care...
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8:33 $1.99
4. Cadavre exquis #8 (1<1)
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10:08 $1.99
5. Cadavre exquis #7 (L'arrache coeur)
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20:21 $1.99
Available as MP3, MP3 320, and FLAC files.


Album Notes
This third album from the Fillion-Lamirande Duo bridges improvisation and composition, thus differentiating itself from the previous albums : 4 Cadavres exquis (improvised electronic music) and Rude Awakening (experimental electronic music). SAMARKANDE here explores voice, text and rhytmic arrangements while preserving the tormented and dramatic aspect that distinguishes their sound. The result is dark electronic music.

Douglas’ Basement questions the incresing alienation of humans in our modern societies and evokes the child inside each of us that fears the dark. How we face this vast uncertain universe in which we are so small. How we face the dogmatic insanity that attacks society’s misfits ? It examines these recurrent questions : Should we choose to fight a dehumanizing system against which we seem so powerless, or slip into it ? Are we all torn by the desire to curl up and fight back in fœtal quietness, instead of confronting the unbearable feeling of loneliness that this technologic and consumer focused macrocosm imposes on us… ?


to write a review

The Thorn / "What the...?"

«... it's menacing, and sometimes violent...»
'Douglas' Basement' is, the perfect complement for the two previous records: the duo has taken the best of both worlds, injected some terribly briliant new ideas and taken us to yet another dimension.

From the opening number, "Catharsis", we can hear genius at work; not only is it an epic number, but it is very cohesive and fluid. It begins with disjointed readings by Cathy Thibault (who contributed the lyrics) to a backdrop of white noise, eventually moving into a sweeping keyboard arc that Philip Glass would be most envious of, and concluding with a childhood lullaby. The piece is aptly named because the demons that initially inhabit it are exorcised midway and replaced by moments of beauty, while leaving remnants of the chaos once contained.

The title track's violent strings then lash out from nowhere to wake the listener out of the emotional calm set only moments prior: the crazies have been set loose in this subterranean asylum and visitors will never be the same again. Perfectly at home in a Hitchcockian thriller, listening to this strident ditty while wandering about an ill-lighted or unfamiliar setting would disturb even the most detached individuals.

"Pray Hard But Pray With Care" doesn't help to settle this uneasyness. With its jumbled noise comes a feeling that, on this album, the darkness will only prevail. Although it is suitably challenging for the pop culture crowd, it certainly is not offputting whatsoever; anyone who enjoys moody music should appreciate this one :)

The final two numbers return to the core concept of the original album, which is an experimental process that they labelled 'Cadavre Exquis', after the word game (visit the links on for more information).

The first of the two, "Cadavre Exquis no. 8" is very spacey, and would not have been out-of place on '2001 : A Space Odyssey'; of course, much of Samarkande's music would have been at home on Stanley Kubrick's films, as he often used inobstrusively unsettling music to paint his cinematic portraits.

As for "Cadavre Exquis no. 7", as is the case with many of their compositions, no one could ever accuse Samarkande of being minimalists - and that's the beauty of their work. For, even when they deal in subtle motions, there is plenty to keep the mind reeling; they weave enough layers together to make each listen a fascinatingly fresh experience. Quite frankly, it's impossible to describe a 20-minute gargantuan like this one with mere words; it truly has to be experienced to be understood.

All in all, it's a very very good album. The individual pieces may not always flow well into one another, but with only five tracks in the span of 60 minutes, this is less of a problem than on your average record. Within each number, however, the music pours out in a torrent of inner turmoil. It's much akin to the awesome beauty of Mother Nature gone mad; it's menacing, and sometimes violent, but it also amazes quite like nothing else.

And although it will forever be impossible for us to forget '4 Cadavres Exquis' and its shadowy heart, we have to admit that their most recent release sinks its claws deep into our darkest matter.

Encyclopedia of Electronic Music

Without a doubt, "Douglas' Basement" is one monster of an album!
Finally I've listened to Samarkande's latest outing - the monumental "Douglas' Basement". Voice samples, noises and deep dark synth drones get the first track "Catharsis" underway. Theremin can be heard in the background and overall it's one of the most unsettling pieces of music I've ever heard. Soon pad sounds and other synth noises are added but things are getting more and more unsettling. Really gut-wrenching stuff. Strange heavy synth rhythms make this track an odd number indeed. Sort of "Phaedra" from hell, played by a bunch of fiends on frying pans. This may sound funny, but the music isn't. Just listen to it - it'll give you the creeps. Really, it's all so schizophrenic, claustrophobic and noisy - you'll have to wonder if any sane person could produce such stuff at all! Mellotron textures can be heard - totally dry, with no effects, no echo, no nothing. Given what has preceded it, the suddenly appearing organ drone comes as a glimpse of light. However, we soon enter another mysterious and rhythmic section that I found extremely enjoyable. Some distorted leads play on top and it seems like we have entered a quasi-Berlin territory. Very good. Another atmospheric section follows, with noises, distorted voices and a child's lullaby sung. This track really scares the shit out of me. Eerie! Compared to this, an average Dark Ambient album is just a walk in the park. Fans of EM with a dark and noisy twist will enjoy it and before you notice - this 15 plus minute track is over. The title track is next and it's as unsettling as ever. Various noises and spooky melody loops can be heard. Sounds like some ugly creatures are crawling from beneath, trying to get you. Theremin whistles give this track a bit of a cheesy, SF-ish flair. Next is "Pray Hard But Pray With Care". Hammond organ drone and some distorted guitar-like leads give way to a strange marimba-like synth sequence that ebbs and flows. Lots of mutating and twittering synths here as well as strange sax bursts. A Mellotron choir can be heard in the background - unusual, but great stuff. In the second part, disturbing Mellotron strings are added, as well as lots of noises and radio samples (some of them deal with Christianity). "Cadavre Exquis No. 8" has an outstanding intro, with pads and Mellotron choirs - it's so sublime, haunting and beautiful, it sends shivers down my spine! The track builds but never really reaches the top. Instead, the feeling of suspense and uneasiness is sustained throughout its almost 10-minute length. Main ingredients here are drones, pads, half-heard radio noises and sublime background sounds. Sounds like an aural journey through misty lands. I must say that this track is much more in the "classic" Dark Ambient vein - a pure soundscape with no melody or rhythm. Excellent stuff! Funnily, the track ends with the so much overused (albeit here processed) NASA samples. The track then morphs into the last cut "Cadavre Exquis No. 7". Once again, dark noises of unknown origin dominate the picture. Soon, an unsettling string sound cuts through but everything is rather restrained, not counting the samples of a crying baby and a female voice singing. The singing becomes louder only to subside a couple of seconds later. Slow bass rhythm can be heard along with a whistling lead line. It all reminds very much on John Carpenter's soundtracks. Great dark piano playing adds to the picture which is dominated by strange noises and once again those seemingly random sax outbursts. Everything calms down for another atmospheric section populated by concrete sounds (voices) and low drones / rumbles. A synth drone serves as the background for this section that continues the piece in a pure Dark Ambient mould, with lots of samples and various sounds coming and going. Finally, we have another strange rhythmic section dominated by synth basses and subtle Mellotron strings that eventually ends this piece. Conclusion: several sections of this album will scare even the most hardened of you, so be warned. Without a doubt, "Douglas' Basement" is one monster of an album!