Cassette HMS 044
Istanbul-based multi-instrumentalist and electronic producer Ekin Fil's (real name Ekin Uzeltuzenci) lo-fi ambient folk explorations have previously attracted comparisons to the likes of Grouper, but this latest cassette-only collection on Helen Scarsdale Agency sees her operating in territory that's considerably more menacing. Constructed as the accompanying soundtrack to Turkish film director Celyan Ozgun Ozcelik's 2017 political psychological thriller Inflame, the 19 tracks collected here (many of them scarcely a minute in length) see Uzeltuzenci using dark ambient synths, elements of the film's sound design and drones to create an atmosphere of foreboding and tension that never really resolves itself (much like the film that it accompanies).
"The 360 (Opening Credits)" opens this collection as throbbing synth bass pulses (which form a recurrent motif here) provide a coldly ominous sound bed as eerie synthesised bell tones play over them, in a moment that suggests the synth-based scores of John Carpenter, all glittering edges and stark electronic surfaces. "Not Alone" sees ringing drone harmonics hanging in the background as distant metallic clanging sounds heighten the looming sense of fear, suggesting the scrabbling of someone trapped in an industrial pipe before "Red River" reintroduces the slowly pulsing bass synths, weaving eerie minor keys through them like creeping mist as glitchy tones flutter in the foreground.
Elsewhere, "A Park" builds over a single minute into a whorl of hypnagogic ambience, as distant treated samples of people in a park get sucked down into a whirlpool of humming bass drones and wind-like textures, a hint of muffled conversation trailing through alongside digital flickers, before "The Verdict" sends rippling bass synth arpeggios rolling out against a backdrop of cosmic-sounding electronic burbles and airy minor-key pads that's closer to the more pensive side of Tangerine Dream's mid eighties sci-fi film scores.
"So Called Delusions" meanwhile places sampled Turkish television show dialogue against a backdrop of throbbing bass tones and eerie synths that seems to seethe with gathering intensity, suggesting the moment just before things explode into violence, while at five minutes the aptly titled "Nightmare" offers up this album's longest track as ghostly drones that almost sound like a distant choir of angry ghosts murmur and circle against muffled voices and flurries of sparse metallic percussion, in what's easily the most claustrophobic descent into blurred dark ambience here.
An impressive first foray into film scoring by Uzeltuzenci, Inflame offers up potent listening with or without the film's accompanying visuals. - Chris Downton