Home News Album Review: Reyes|Stokowy Duo – Northern: Ashroud is My Country

Album Review: Reyes|Stokowy Duo – Northern: Ashroud is My Country


Album Review: Reyes|Stokowy Duo – Northern: Ashroud is My Country

An unmatched audio experience

Chicago-based musician Jordan Reyes teams up with German sound artist Robert Stokowy to create a brutal, boundary-pushing album that sounds like it came from the end of time.

Jordan Reyes is an established artist in the experimental scene. His first two solo albums, Close (2019) and Closer (2020), carved out his signature synthesizer-heavy production. He said in the description of Close, “Making music on the synthesizer is an activity of erasure for me.” However, on Northern: Ashroud is My Country, Reyes has now brought in the use of guitars, brass instruments and vocals to create a unique experience that is sonically incomparable to his past works.

To say Robert Stokowy is a unique artist would be stating the obvious. Via the YouTube channel “Experimental Sound Studio,” Stokowy released a 27-minute sound art video of him using feedback and percussive instruments to create a minimal and haunting experience. It is evident that Stokowy was the mind behind the atmosphere of the album. In one of his past releases, Hosts (2020), the ominous drones and field recordings sound very similar to this album.

Northern: Ashroud is My Country is a 39-minute walk through a decaying world where there is fear looming around every corner you look. The field recordings that Stokowy put together give off a gothic, spacious tone that rewards listeners who pay close attention. Each instrument is so twisted and warped it is barely recognizable from its original sound.

On the first track, “I,” the album kicks off with what sounds like a highly-textured recording of a bell. Then, Reyes comes in with the piercing feedback of a synthesizer. The atmosphere becomes deep and bellowing as the bell-like sounds become more and more distant, until it eventually fades into silence.

The second track, “II,” is the most disturbing, yet intriguing song on the album. It starts with a deep, echoing trombone accompanied by choir-like vocals. This ethereal-like audio gives way to what sounds like Reyes breathing heavily and imitating some putrid creature walking from your left headphone to your right. The synthesizer starts to oscillate until the song reaches its climax with the sudden strums and plucks of a lap steel guitar.

On the next two tracks, “III” and “IV,” the ominous ambiance Stokowy created continues as Reyes adds a piano into the mix. Then, on the fifth track, “V,” Reyes and Stokowy put together all the elements that made this album amazing in one track. The dreary piano, buzzing synthesizer and metallic lap steel guitar are all there while field recording of running water and other nature sounds are added, making it a personal favorite.

The album concludes on the track aptly titled, “VI.” The nature recordings take center stage as Reyes plays a somber tone on the piano. The song ends with the field recordings fading away, implying that you were able to escape the horrifying place you just were.

Northern: Ashroud is My Country is an album that requires multiple listens to understand what a creative feat it is. The use of stereo imagery and intimate sounds call for the listener to use headphones. While in some tracks, like “III” and “IV,” the atmosphere dragged along a bit too long, most of the album is an unmatched audio experience.


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