Review – Jason W. Walton: Mara

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  • Bio: n/a
  • Label: Red Orchard Records
  • Release Date: June 21st, 2015
  • Genre: Ambient
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

Jason W. Walton is a name fans of Agalloch and Self Spiller will immediately be familiar with. However, some may not be aware that he also had put together the band Nothing. This project issued four full-lengths and a few miscellaneous efforts over the years, calling it a day back in 2003. However, in 2013, writing began again, leading to the birth of a solo project that shares his name. For 2015, we find the master musician working his magic on two pieces of dark ambience titled Mara, which is being released through Red Orchard Records. But is this new venture a more personal one, or is it nothing but random noises strewn together with a hope that they’ll all fit?

Mara stands as a twisted little two song EP. “Alp” immediately kicks off with some seventies synth oriented horror effects with a voice echoing in the background, playing up a sense of isolation that can also take place in an astral plain the deeper the shifting pulses become. This and various tones make up most of this track, though the end features a few depressing piano notes and heavy breathing. It may not seem like much, but the atmospheric loneliness is incredibly chilling.

And then there’s the flipside with the nightmarish “Yakshi”. Hellish distortions behind a parched, raspy, heavily echoed voice crying out commands marks the descent into a mental hell that pulls from the scenario of “Alp” perfectly. In fact, it winds up downright unnerving the deeper in you get. The only major downfall is the scene out of Dante’s Inferno gradually shifts to nothing more than the radio static found on “Alp”, which pulls away from the tension this one established pretty much immediately, pulling you back to the sense of paranoia and woe that you thought you escaped.

While Mara is a fantastic slab of dark ambience, the conclusion with “Yakshi” brings the recording full circle, and it just doesn’t work. Instead of two grades of sinister emotions at polar opposites, we find the two uniting in a way that makes it seem like you’re stuck in a loop for your punishment in Hell, or perhaps just limbo. While this is normally the best option, both worlds are so well executed that you’ll find yourself wanting to experience them in their entirety without back tracking at all. Sadly, that’s not how Jason W. Walton decided to leave things, and it’s a downright shame.

Jason W. Walton

Digital review copy of this release provided by Red Orchard Records via Earsplit PR.