Wilt is the project of Dan Hall and James Keeler, also members of Astronomy and Hedorah. This noise duo focuses on the dark ambient and drone side of the genre, and Nocturnal Requiem is six tracks of somnambulant tones that cater more towards the sinister side of drone and dark ambient.
The first track is “Wandering Echo,” and much like its title suggests, this is a very meandering track full of sustained drones and repeating patterns. However, those intersecting elements also create what I would consider a boiler room cacophony – there’s the clanging of pipes to add a percussive element to the ideas, and that keeps the listener intrigued.
That’s the key to good dark ambient, too – that the tracks ensure the listener gets caught up in the soundscape rather than tuning out of it because of its repetition. Wilt captures that on Nocturnal Requiem. “Even the Most Ancient Things Lie in the Weeds of Present Time” is relatively short, but its bass clicks and churns suck the listener into the frolicking patterns.
“Moon Diver,” the album’s middle track, adds a heavy maelstrom in the background as synth notes call out from the depths. However, this one tends to go on a bit too long – it has some alterations as it reaches the double-digit length, but for the most part it remains stagnant in its call-and-response drones, although it would be the perfect fit for a horror film’s stalking moments.
“Over Waters Hidden Below” brings it back, though, with a churning drone in the background and a subtle hiss in the foreground. Synth notes break in here and there to add emphasis to the sound as listeners get pulled into the tones. “The Autobiography of Dreams” brings it back to the clanging of “Wandering Echo” while adding a swirling windstorm and oscillating synth notes; this one’s my favorite of the six because of its execution and complexity.
“The Starless Vault of Heaven” ends Nocturnal Requiem on almost an upbeat note, with more ethereal synth tones and a house electronica beat. It’s an experiment, and quite different from the brooding offerings before, but Wilt captures the feeling of coming out of the dark into a celestial sea, and it’s a great way to conclude the album.
Nocturnal Requiem is my first Wilt experience, but based on the dark ambient material offered here, I would love to check out more. This duo is able to conjure up eerie tones, but the album shows their range with a couple of dynamic tracks that sees Wilt stepping out of its comfort zone.