Karsten Hamre is a Norwegian artist whose projects range from visual and written art to music. Dense Vision Shrine is one of his many outlets, and this CD is its most recent release. "Time Lost in Oblivion" was published simultaneously with "Through the Eyes of a Stranger," an album under his own name.
The CD holds almost an hour's worth of nature-inspired ambient with a darkened overtone - or vice versa. The music is calm and in a way very simple; the songs' backgrounds are built from usual synth-ambience with a (industrial) neo-classical feel, but their amount of different layers and the good-quality source sounds make them very pleasing to the ear. The songs have a lot of variation between them, and they hold a surprising amount of content and vivid movement despite their peaceful outlook. Some are topped with field-recorded metal beats (either modified to form a rhythm or left as-is), some with softer industrial-beats, some have birds chirping, and so forth. The reversed sounds in "Through Fjords..." are a pleasingly eerie add, and the melody in "Through Eternity" that sounds like raindrops is just amazing.
I first saw the album as a simple one, but the more I listened to it, the deeper and more detailed it became. The background ambience varies from abstract patterns to simple rhythms and melodies, and it's these small things and changes that keep the album so interesting. The songs don't really have any major changes, they moreso just go forward as they're born, experiencing small mutations and adds amidst their amount of layers. The album's overall variation comes from the natural switches from a track to another, as all the tracks form a solid unity. The ten tracks truly are chapters of a bigger entity. Most of the tracks end with a brief fade-out, and although this choice doesn't please me a bit, it works well when noting how it helps the atmosphere transcend from one song to another.
The CD comes in a pressing of 1000, and the first 500 copies come with a free bonus-DVD. It plays a slideshow of photographs (familiar from the artist's live shows) with the album playing in the background. It's nothing to mourn over if you happen to acquire the CD-only version of the album, although the photos are stylish ones. The monochrome visual side, on the other hand, is just plain dull. I would expect an album with this deep a soundscape to show some effort on the visual side as well, but alas, it doesn't.
The thing that fascinates me the most with this album is its atmosphere. It has a really calm and even serene feel, but it's constantly clouded by ominous, formless darkness that kept me wondering how I feel about it, and how I'm supposed to (from the artist's perspective). "Time Lost in Oblivion" feels desolate and made me think about different kinds of abandoned or otherwise lifeless and quiet surroundings. Even so, the small glimmer of hope shines through the darkened void every now and then, keeping my thoughts from becoming monotone while listening to the album. It clearly has a lot to give.