“Nunatak” by Thomas Köner

The legendary debut album by dark ambient pioneer Thomas Köner



I can barely remember the first time I heard Thomas Köner’s music. Described tentatively as ‘dark ambient,’ I was sure it would be something I liked so I grabbed the disc on sight, hoping for something deep and mysterious. What greeted my ears was more than I could have hoped – soundscapes crafted by a true master of the genre, creations that would come to influence the inception and direction of the then non-existent Type imprint.

It is with a certain amount of pride then that we can reveal this re-issue of Thomas Köner’s debut album, the first in a set of three, on vinyl for the very first time. Originally introduced to the world in 1992, ‘Nunatak’ (then named ‘Nunatak Gongamur’) was shockingly ahead of its time, and it is hard to believe that it has been out of print and difficult to obtain for so long. Koner created the album with mood in mind; he has since been described as a ‘media’ artist, and it’s easy to see why. While the music can be described as ‘dark ambient’, these soundscapes elicit a widescreen collection of images. Through careful and measured use of gongs (recorded in different rooms and underwater) as well as homemade wind instruments, Köner created an album that would become a cornerstone of the genre and part of a tryptich of records which to my mind have never been bettered. While the album is almost twenty years old at this point, it still sounds totally alien and totally unique.

In these eleven brief, unnamed tracks, Köner guides us among battered lands, barren ice plains and damaged caves. Through the low-end resonance of his percussion we are dragged into a hallowed chasm of doom-laden drone. There have been many tries at this style since ‘Nunatak’ was first birthed, and many attempts to draw the genre into fresh and re-imagined territory, but few have come even close to the shadowy exclusion of Thomas Köner.