This debut from Fractalyst (Dimitris Valasopoulos) is a heady and disconcerting mix of dark ambient drones and electroacoustic elements. In particular, background noises and effects accentuate and often are the focus of attention over the layered synth. These sounds include crackling and hissing static, strange vocalizations and animal noises, and twisted looping melodies that lilt and oscillate. They result in a cinematic soundscape that nonetheless supports active listening.
Valasopoulos’s manipulation of samples is quite compelling, as he uses them to build haunting stories and to give each track a distinct character. For example, Burial provides footsteps and background voices, as well as ebbing and flowing waves, some smooth, others gritty. This evolves into a wistful yet foreboding melody atop the aforementioned effects.
Imagined as a post-apocalyptic journey, Watchtower is a promising first release that comes highly recommended. It is also one of those albums that requires experiencing at a relatively high volume to fully appreciate its attention to detail.