August 19th 2022
Taiwanese newcomer Imryll joins Phantom Limb’s burgeoning Spirituals imprint to release their debut proper Mortal, a deeply exploratory mini-album of unsettling, supernatural sonics stretched across gauzy ambience.
“At the time making the record, I was living in a really old and creepy apartment in an area that’s a little bit run down,” Imryll writes. “There’s a scary looking abandoned house with dense trees in front of the building I lived in. I had to face that creepy abandoned house whenever I went to the balcony. I was terrified.” The music of Imryll’s debut record (following a DIY label EP in 2021) captures this fear and unease to powerfully foreboding effect. Though ostensibly an ambient record, with a heart of dreamy, woozy quietude, Mortal’s storytelling speaks to and unsettles a deep part of the soul. It favours the uncanny and the unnerving over the outright harrowing in the same way as, for example, Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite, or Kevin Richard Martin’s recent rescore of landmark Soviet movie Solaris.
It is perhaps no surprise that the record was inspired by lockdown isolation and horror soundtracks. Imryll references Toru Takemitsu’s seminal, chilling Woman in the Dunes movie as well as independent horror videogames, “because I felt like I was living in one.” Experiencing acute loneliness following Taiwan’s heavy lockdown rules, Imryll found themself responding to the external world by taking recordings (“old Mandarin pop songs my weird neighbour blasted loudly at 2am, construction sites, smashing glass bottles in the garbage disposal plant”) and crafting the soundworlds of Mortal from unexpected environmental phenomena. “I think the background of the record stems from personal experiences of fear and frustration, and the healing process,” Imryll tells us.