“Teimo” by Thomas Köner
The gorgeous second album from dark ambient pioneer Thomas Köner
Originally released in 1992, ‘Tiemo’ is probably the most ‘tuneful’ of Thomas Köner’s legendary triptych (Nunatak, Teimo and Permafrost). I say that lightly of course, but the submerged drones he made his signature are tempered slightly on this album to give a hallowed, mournful edge which has been echoed on so much of today’s darker drone music. Indeed at times throughout the cavernous album there are almost hints at something orchestral in the mires of reverb and dense clouds of harrowing sound. It is hard to believe that Köner pieced this record together using the sound of gongs – close mic’ed to reveal their subtle overtones and resonance. At times the resulting sound is so gloriously alien and so synthetic that you would be forgiven for thinking it is a trick of synthesis, but the textures are indeed organic.
‘Teimo’ is music which like its companion pieces inspires a rich, visual world; and if ‘Nunatak’ suggested human ice exploration then this record is set somewhere deep, deep underwater. The low-end resonance which was later co-opted by so many drone and dark ambient practitioners places us on the sea bed, muffled and disorientated as sounds bubble and wash overheard. The distant sounds are almost dreamlike, yet through the water are cracks of light and solace in the powerful harmonic elements.
Unlike so much ‘dark ambient’ music that appeared later Köner’s music was notable for its absolute maturity. ‘Teimo’ is not theatrical or comical, rather the darkness comes from the very particular sound-set and Köner’s intense compositional skill. With a measured, economic hand (this album again is surprisingly brief given so many other in the genre hitting the hour mark) he has created a record that revels in distance and silence and is not afraid to show the occasional beauty of the underworld.