Since 2011, the one man project Azure Mortal of Belgian Dirk Swartenbroekx, is producing avant-garde electronic audio-experiments and writing low frequency music for art installations, expos, films and choreography. Dark ambient is maybe a good description for the Azure Mortal sound. Nurse With Wound, Throbbing Gristle, Ornette Coleman, Steve Reich and Five or Six are a huge inspiration.
THE END OF SOCIETY (3 track CD) – Prova/Radical Slave Recordings 2014
3 PIANO PIECE (2 track vinyl single) – Wally’s Groove World 2014
3 PIANO PIECE (cd track, Mind the Gap 110) – Gonzo Circus 2014
DEADWEIGHT (3 track CD) – Prova/Radical Slave Recordings 2015
DUIVELS (16 track CD) – Counsouling Sounds/Prova 2016
DIALOGUES (3 track download album) – Prova/Radical Slave Recordings 2017
The first Azure Mortal EP is released in march 2014 on the label Radical Slave/Prova. The mini-album is titled ‘The End of Society’ and was made as a soundtrack for the art installations of Artist Rudi Eurlings.
In may 2014, A new Azure Mortal vinyl single was released on Record Store Day 2014 by Wally’s Groove World Record shop in Antwerp. ’3 piano piece’ is a minimalistic, repetitive composition which will be later used by artdance-group Lune. The track was also compiled by Gonzo Circus Magazine. B-side is an edit of this old recording Dirk made in 1991 under the flag of TTF. ‘The Conversation’ is the perfect mix of intriguing early keyboards sounds and a dramatic dialogue tru phone between Humprey Bogaert and Lauren Bacall. A second EP, Deadweight, was released on Radical Slave/Prova in 2015.
Then there was the Full Album ‘Duivels’, released in 2016 on the Consouling Sounds Label.
As described by ‘Merchantsofair’…
In a way, it seems like Azure Mortal is the dark side of Swartenbroekx. Ambient, jazz, drones and soundscapes make up this album, but all in a gloomy, kind of eerie, manner. Yet, somehow I’m still reluctant to place this album between my dark ambient collection. There’s much more to it, even though ‘Waai’ and ‘Gene Krupa Goes Bananas’ are great pieces of dark minimalism. Azure Mortal feels more like a band I would place between Dale Cooper and Bohren.
Other influences I can hear seem to come from Throbbing Gristle, Steve Reich, Nurse With Wound, Angelo Badalamenti, Nils Frahm and so on. So yes, there are a few layers of old industrial, mainly in some of the rhythms, as in the brilliant song ‘Deadweight’ and the poetic ‘Nacht’. There’s also a bit of classical music, as in the joyful piano piece, aptly named ‘Piano Piece’ and even some Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze.
While most dark ambient acts focus on creating deep drones and mystifying atmospheres, ‘Duivels’ seems to be a collection of songs, varying massively in sound and style. ‘Raven’ for example is a strange jazz piece, perfectly suited for a David Lynch soundtrack while ‘Pro Create’ drives on mild techno beats and repetitiveness, somehow bringing Chris and Cosey to mind. Odd but nonetheless very interesting.
In all, this is a highly surprising album, a well-varied one too. I never expected something like this from Dirk Swartenbroekx but I’m very happy this album reached me. I will recommend this to dark ambient fans, even though this goes a lot further and a lot deeper. So check it out and allow yourself to dwell in the wonderful and mysterious world of Azure Mortal. You’ll be in for an inspiring journey…
And now in 2017, a new era starts for Azure Mortal. ‘Dialogues’ is a fresh 3 track EP on Prova. The title track is an uptempo melange of jazz, techno and classical strings. Ernst Low signs again for some creepy poetry in ‘Demon in het Duister’. And ‘Never More’ finally, is an apocalyptic track, inspired by Edgar Allan Poe.
Live Azure Mortal will add new daring colours to their sound thanks to a liveband consisting of the finest musicians in the jazz, rock and improscene:
-Rodrigo Fuentealba Palavacino (Guitar): Manngold, Manngold De Cobre, Fifty Foot Combo, Gabriel Rios, Novastar, Kris Dane, Daan, Arsenal, Mauro Pawlowski,…
-Peter Verdonck (Saxophone): Wound Collector
-Dirk Jans (Drums): De Mens, Andre Brasseur
-Ernst Löw (spoken word)