Aokigahara is a lush and dense forest in Japan, which is approximately 14 square miles in size located at the base of Mount Fuji. This forest is the title of Flowers for Bodysnatchers’ (Duncan Ritchie) fourth album, the only one thus far to be released on the Cryo Chamber music label. Using a multitude of field recordings from his travels to this forest, Bodysnatcher’s composes a rich dark ambient journey through the forest famously known as a place for people to take their own lives. Bodysnatcher’s orchestrates both piano and string instruments to use as centerpieces for texturing this gorgeous and lonely experience through the haunted sea of trees.
In “Prisoner of Night and Fog”, we approach the mouth of the forest. Wind whispers in our ears, gently blowing between the wooden trunks. A sullen piano weeps and melancholic strings moan eerie cries of lost souls. We hold our breath indecisively. The somber piano keys beckon to us, pulling back the leafy drapes to reveal the still beauty amongst the foliage. Warm rays of white light peek from behind the leaves to grope our skin and entice us into the thicket. Hopelessly we walk under the canopy as night encroaches upon the forest in “And There Is A Darkness”. The blackening twilight swallows the path beneath our feet as a lonesome breath licks the back of our neck. The piano coos softly in the distance and water trickles in small oases at the base of the trees. We peer over our shoulder to see no person nearby, only darkness.
A babbling brook glides over smooth stone surfaces, trickling quietly through the stifled air. We sit upon a mossy log and gaze into the pitch black, listening in silence. Pairs of eyes glare at us from the empty space as a scale of shrill strings wail, shooting morbid ecstasy through our veins like “Night Heroin”. An escalating pressure pierces our skull, deafening us as we clasp our face to prevent the uncontrollable rolling of our eyes. Another pang of ecstasy strikes our veins, the screams grow louder from the umbra across the brook. The narcotic recedes, leaving us disoriented as we collapse to the uneven earth and hear the serene crackling of the cold water.
Bleary eyed, we awaken to low hanging mist dimly reflecting the opaque shine of the rising dawn. We walk through the blanket of grey particles where we observe the sun glimmering brighter between some trunks and where the piano radiates gracefully. Hastily, we forge toward the aurora of light as “A Man Metallic’s” sinister whisper sighs at our back. The palpitating breath draws nearer as we bolt for the twinkling beacon of improbable hope. A cryptic ticking scratches at our heels with the burning light growing brighter and our eyes meeting the vista. We fall forward through the breach, greeted by the peaceful stillness of a lake where ripples gently fold the almost flat surface. The piano flickers into the sun and a calming breeze washes over our skin in “The Game Foxes Play”, allowing us a peaceful moment from the horrendous journey. We run our hand along the beautiful sparkling water to stare at the reflection which looks right back with a smile. The ticking creeps from the shadows beyond the trunks, warning us that we must return. We gaze frightfully into our own eyes as the reflection now hollowly peers through us. Embracing the inevitable, a lone tear drop splashes into the lake and we are dragged into the void, never to see the light again.
Score: 9.0 / 10.0
Listen to the song “Aokigahara” above; purchase the record here.