State Azure: Church of the Last Epoch – Music Review
Another long-form ambient track from the synth master known as State Azure. I feel most of my recent long-form ambient music listening has been utterly dominated by the output of State Azure. From the very first time I heard “Fragments” back in 2021 I knew there was a certain quality and depth to the sound design. He went from strength to strength with each subsequent release, with some notable ambient tracks being “Folding Space” (2020), “Nova Sonus” (2022) and a personal favourite, “Cadwell’s Reach” (also 2022). Each of these seemed to improve on tone, structure and really hit the Blade Runner OST/Cyberpunk aesthetic.
Personally, even though it’s a great track and somewhat of a departure, “Beyond The Gates of Kunlun” was a bit of a step in a different direction compared to the rest of the superbly crafted ambient repertoire he’d built up. The direction returns once more to a futuristic theme with “Church of the Last Epoch” which the release notes describe as:
Longform ambient meditative ambient track, inspired by ’90s games Syndicate and Syndicate Wars.
An Extremely Evocative & Deep Soundscape
The track has all the typical hallmarks of a long-form ambient music in this Neo-noir-cyberpunk sonic world that he’s created: low, ominous bass drones constantly. Rain falls and noises swoop by, as if representing spinners flying past. Some sounds are muted, melodies that represent the city or theme (in this case I envision a futuristic cyber-cult based around tranhumanism). Others reach high up in pitch and style, reminiscent of the CS-80 style synth melodies of Vangelis’ masterful soundtrack from the 80’s.
It’s well-structured too. Parts come and go, with some things remaining constant. It’s unobtrusive changes, subtle if you’re doing other things whilst it plays, or it’s noticeable if you are sitting listening to it and doing things, such as for example, writing a review on it! It’s a perfect length to explore all the permutations without it getting stale or boring too – with these types of pieces of music there’s a real art to making it long enough without it overstaying it’s welcome. Of course, I’m one of those weird people who listens to two-hour ambient tracks on repeat…
One remarkable thing to note about the whole tone of the music – it’s got those classic hallmarks of great ambient music and represents the theme very well – but it’s not a cold piece. It’s cosy, inviting, warm even. It could so easily have been harsher in tone to represent a grim, darker future, but instead does it without resorting to those cliches. As the artist describes in the notes on his Facebook page:
I designed it to be a warm, gentle blanket of sound.
Final (Short) Thoughts
It’s well worth a listen, given I’ve already played it through 5 times…
I’m really looking forward to more music from this ‘world’ in the future. It’s available on Bandcamp and all the usual outlets for music these days…
Read more of my music reviews here.