The AMG All Music Guide - Daylight

Though the Carpetworld EP introduced a much more vigorous dance element to Darkroom's palette, the full length Daylight album comes across as a blend of that with the generally more understated approach of Seethrough. "Sprawl," early in the record, sets the tone as much as anything, with skittering drum'n'bass loops and cut-ups shot through with buried chanting, slower beats, and heavily flanged guitar and other instruments. As has often been the case in earlier releases, Tim Bowness essentially steps aside from singing to let Bearpark and Os create a fair amount of the music, with the former's guitar and the latter's ear for production and various dance music inspirations often resulting in notable efforts. "Carpetworld" and "Daylight" both reappear from Carpetworld itself. The latter is a sweetly narcotic track with a crackling vinyl rhythm, with Bowness' wordless vocals echoing amid guitars and keyboards, but otherwise, all the tracks are new compositions. "No History" is a good example of the less-is-more approach Bowness employs here, his calling, seemingly desperate vocals mixed low, sounding like distant signals behind the rolling breakbeat and Bearpark's synth/guitar melodies. As the track continues, Bearpark steps more to the fore with some excellent soloing, rough yet weirdly pretty, while Bowness' singing re-echoes in the mix every so often. Perhaps even more minimal is "Died Inside," an 11-minute long cut where echoes of Bowness' vocals provide the rhythm while all three performers add just-on-the-edge-of-the-mix elements of their own throughout. It's an entrancing effort, with the right combination of subtle drive and aural mystery. Though the two concluding tracks have linked names -- "Vladimir" and "Estragon," the lead characters of Samuel Beckett's famed piece of abstract theater, Waiting for Godot -- the latter contains a subtle, steady beat deep in the mix while the former explores a more ambient yet edgy experience.

Ned Raggett

The Organisation of Sound

I don't know too much about this project but this is a very fine disc. This is the first quasi-Electronica disc that I've received, I say quasi-Electronica, because it far surpasses most Electronica that I've heard. Daylight is a combination of collage-like sampling, fat beats, and excellent production. This is one of those records that just so happens to have it all going on in the best possible way. This is a very clear and well-engineered recording as well that truly stands up to many listens. I would definitely be interested in hearing more of Darkroom's stuff. Darkroom's Daylight is a 1998 release on the Halloween Society label. Good stuff!

Matt Borghi

Robots and Electronic Brains Robots and Electronic Brains

Ironically titled, perhaps, "Daylight" is night-time music. Without the beats it would be lone-listening, darkened-room ambience, the kind of thing that Ochre would be putting out as a matter of course. With the beats, however, it's a communal affair with the ambience of flickering candlelight. It's an iron fist inside the velvet glove. Unusually for this kind of thing, it's the vocal tracks that work best, especially "Carpetworld" in which Underworld stripped down to their underpants repeat the refrain "Taking a twirl with your best friend's girl while the rest of the band torch Carpetworld."

Jimmy Possession


I have to admit the Darkroom meant nothing to me until we received this, but then were always pleased to check out releases from Northhamptonshires 3rd Stone Records, home of sundry left-field pop, wayward electronica and psychedelic dance. Actually, strictly speaking, while available through 3rd Stone, Daylight is in fact the debut album on the recently-launched The Halloween Society label, a venture of neo-progsters No-Mans Tim Bowness. Well, Bowness has certainly shown some considerable savvy with this release. Combining dark guitar rock with drum and bass is not necessarily a giant step, and certainly not a unique one. But its done here extremely well indeed, with deep, heavily dubbed out basslines and clattering, constantly-shifting drum and bass rhythm programming underpinning psychedelic guitar solos, ice-cold ambient soundscapes and, occasionally, blissed-out indie-kid vocals. The results are very finely crafted indeed, and create a mood of oddly lush bleakness: a mood at once oceanic and glacial. Really rather beautiful. The Halloween Society have also released a single/EP from the album, Carpetworld. Lets hope this new labels life is a long one.

Simon Hopkins

This review can now be found on

Melody Maker

Darkroom are appropriately named, if nothing else. You can imagine their spooky, ambient drone being played by some sinister photographer as he develops pictures of half-dressed women he's been stalking/spying on. Most of the pictures will, of course, have been taken with a telephoto lens from the window of his plush penthouse, as he invades the privacy/privates of the young ladies who live in the apartment block opposite.

So I digress, but it is all a bit "Dirty Harry", and Darkroom can't be after anything resembling chart success. A film score, maybe? Like it hasn't been done before...

Holly Hernandez

Full Moon (Volume 5 Issue 1)

Something about Darkroom seem to make me want lie down, close my eyes and head up to space for a good while. Which is pretty weird since there's really some very scary stuff indeed going on here. A lot of similar stuff aims itself purely at the blissed-out market, taking few chances and even fewer liberties, Darkroom however are quite happy to lull me in then smack me in the face a huge slab of noise without caring too much about the effect on me.

It looks a whole lot more austere than it actually is though, with the cover boasting an industrial complex, but it certainly is not Industrial on the inside.

All in all a refreshing change that I'll be coming back to a lot.

DDddD #35

notta lotta hard info on this one - a few guys from the UK making mercifully-unclassifiable dancey music - quiet sheets of scattery D/B, there are real gtrs, there's Tim Bowness singing and gurgling over it all - he's the singer in No-Man, so you know we love him. Later, the D/B beats are abandoned and the thing turns into local-status ambient stuff that like does really fill up space and take yr time and that, oh the 5th track is nice, but the skimpiest underwear is saved till the final track, "Estragon" - it's that formula that never fails = background-ed beats and bassy rhythms with the kinda feedbacking keys/electronics sheeting away gently and Bowness crooning with his head back and the star above him making himself and me very transported and happy

Future Music (February 1999)

I don't normally like heavy, industrial drum'n'bass, and that's how Darkroom seem to promote this album. The album cover depicts a depressing gasworks-cum-junkyard scene and the accompanying press blurb won't shut up about "psychedelic chaos", "edgy neurosis of outrock" and "wild momentum of hardcore". However, I was pleasantly surprised. Daylight is actually a mesmerising, hypnotic trip through gentle drum'n'bass (if that's possible), and while the heartbeat-like drums keep up the momentum, it's never "wild" and the weaving melodic lines and gentle synth bleeps are never "edgy". The only dodgy bit is the wayout electric guitar noodling on Died Inside which is a tad weird.

Look beyond this book's cover and you'll find a beatifully crafted selection of carefully layered tracks which are simultaneously bleak yet enchanting. My God, am I still talking about drum'n'bass?

Forget your squint-inducing drill beats and hi-hats that sound like the drugged up drummer's got a nervous twitch. This is different. And I like it!

Lisa Savage

Misfit City #1 - Daylight

To work out where Darkroom are coming from, you could do worse than take a look at 'Daylight's arresting cover. It's a study of sturdy, corroded old industrial tanks, encircled by metal stairways and surrounded by a devil's playground of battered, abandoned plastic drums. The drums are marked with hazard labels but yawn open, suggesting that their toxic contents have long since leached out into the environment. Behind the towering tanks are a radiant blue sky and a slanting blanket of pure white fluffy cloud, so that they rear up like Reims Cathedral. It's beautiful, in a warped way - the wreckage and castoffs of a once-bright new industry which nonetheless continue to assert themselves. But in this toxic paradise there's not a person in sight.

No, this isn't suggesting that Darkroom are the sort of electronica trio who revel in futurism and excise humanity from their orderly sequenced, oscillating musical vision of the world. Quite the opposite - Darkroom's music (in which Os' sequences and textures are balanced by Mike's mutated post-industrial guitars and Tim's naked, swoony vocal wail) has humanity in spades. The live instrumentation unites with the programmed sound and beats in a way that's rare in over- purified electronic music. But in the music that emerges - one in which the technology provides uncertainty rather than comfortable form, where the threat of chaos and upset looms in the background - the main note sounded is one of loss. One of the main qualities of daylight, after all, is its impermanence.

We've already heard the discontented seethe of the 'Carpetworld' single: roof-skittering drum'n'bass with guttering snarls of wounded guitar and Tim's voice reined in to a hooded whisper of acidic lyrics - the only ones on the record, and they're about bad sex, looting and dodgy discos. We've also heard the beautiful flush of the title track: a tumbling chant - mournful but blissful - against a slow wallow of bass, the singing notes of Mike's Frippertronical guitar, and Os' dawn chorus of flickering sound. Darkroom can do in-yer-face, and they can do strokin'- yer-cheek. Which they do in roughly equal amounts; and often both together, in an elusive blur of ambiguous emotion. The sort that makes you keep one eye on them and the other, anxiously, on the door. But which keeps you held in place, unable to resist the desire to see for yourself what comes next.

And ambiguity is the keyword for this music. Brash, defined techno structures are missing, their place taken by sketchy outlines which the trio fill up with evolving, chaotic detail. The beats are light-footed: slow breaks languidly pacing the background, or pattering techno pulses like rats' paws. The electronics hum like supercharged fridges close to bursting flamewards, or keen out lovely auroral shivers in the sky and in the shadowed spaces. Tim's full-voiced mixture of blurred wordshapes and subverbal whoops are sometimes Buckley-ish in their tortured flamboyance, sometimes more like Liz Fraser's outraged brother. Melodies drift, loop and contort: massy and queasily mutable, like cloudscapes tortured out of their natural forms by the force of some cruel idiot god.

Sometimes it sounds like Underworld tumbled from their throne and reeling with the impact of a massive nervous breakdown. Or like Fripp and Eno sailing their boat into much more malevolent waters. 'Sprawl' growls its overcast way past complex shifting slapping beats, squelched bass, crushed radio-talk and vocal frailties, a baleful camera scanning a wasteland. The opener, 'Crashed', is strung out, lovely but disfocussed, with a streak of elegant suffering running through. The guitars rattle like motoring moon-buggies, the voice oppresses like a summer shower, and somewhere in the background, behind the throaty tick of percussion, a lone voice of optimism: a marimba chinking out its own little Reichian wavelet.

There are episodes of naked grace on board, beside the pollution, but 'Daylight' is still one of the most subtly distressed records to wriggle out of recent electronica. This is most obvious in the wrenching, frozen agony of 'Vladimir', but 'Died Inside' seems to sob in anticipation for a collapse waiting to happen but never quite arriving. Looped calls, lilting gasps are answered across a chill echoing gulf by the icy fuzz of a guarded guitar, prowling and snarling in its own isolation: once, Tim's voice reaches a rare intelligibility - a panicked, unanswered plea of " d'you feel the same?"

The wonder that comes close in hand with this fear is laid out explicitly in 'No History'. A soft hip-hop beat holds down the sky-stretchingly rapt vocal and the beautiful subterranean guitar moans: a soundtrack to that forever- flavoured moment as you lie stricken at the bottom of that fatal crevasse watching the final, most brilliant stars of your life pierce the beckoning void overhead. Like a fleeting memory of softer times, a snippet of 'Dock Of The Bay' slips in. The amplifier buzz at the end's a benediction.

If there's a time when there's resolution, it's when those two questioning background voices reach out across the comforting pulse of 'Estragon': Mike's guitar like a high, bowed bell, Tim toned down to a florid whisper. Still, as it sails on towards its hushed conclusion, the key feeling of 'Daylight' remains one of loss. A lament for something unknown, but something voiceable. Something past reaching again as the day goes down and fades off into the poisonous beauty of a industrial sunset haunted by old, unquiet ghosts.

Dann Chinn

Original article here

The Wire (December 98)

At their best, Darkroom's post-Trance, new psychedelic eclecticism is aswirl with muffled beats, treated guitars and low end echo. Quality takes a dip with some lush but directionless multilayered pieces topped with over-stretched vocals. Once lost, the momentum is not regained until the closing track, which shapes up round a more purposeful rhythm.

Tom Ridge

Troll #4

Think I saw this lot in The Wire t'other day. Says it all I guess. Wanky, wacky, whirlly nonsense from folks who sound like they should know better. Art-rock bollocks basically.

Himself (October-November 1998)

Creating a futuristic fusion of DIY drum'n'bass, mad bastard guitar and urban lyrical sprawl, Darkroom - the brainchild of No Man's Tim Bowness - fashion a dazzling sound of latter-day psychedelic chaos from a world of dimly-lit, drugged-up drudgery. Well, that's according to their press release anyway. Think of a cross between Eno, Japan and The Aphex Twin, throw in a few hardcore beats and you're nearly there. Daylight is probably best heard after one too many spliffs.

Olaf Tyaransen


Darkroom offers further evidence that real musical innovation and exploration are now strictly the domain of the independent music realm. On its full-length debut Daylight, The British act, comprised of vocalist Tim Bowness, keyboardist/rhythmatist Andrew 'Os' Ostler and guitarist/loopologist Mike Bearpark, offers a composite of pounding drum'n'bass-ish rhythms, spiraling ambient backdrops and netherworldly atmospheres. Vocally, Bowness shifts between wordless harmonizing and scalding delivery of lyrics often steeped in acidic desires and depravity. It's potent stuff. The Carpetworld EP takes its name from the most deliriously twisted track off Daylight. It adrenalizes the piece with hyper-beats fully suitable for e-head frenzies or living room chill-outs depending on your leanings. Both releases are serious exercises in butt-kickery. Do what it takes to find them.

Anil Prasad

rated 4 stars = "excellent"