"Hall of Mirrors is a collaboration between two talented musicians, active in the ambient genre for a very long time: Andrea Marutti, who usually releases as Amon, and Giuseppe Verticchio, the man behind the Nimh moniker. As Hall of Mirrors they’ve released two albums so far (Altered Nights is the third), but personally I consider Sator (Eibon Records, 2007), recorded as Amon / Nimh, as their debut album. I must admit that this project is quite unique to me – it incorporates classy dark ambient elements often taken from completely different musical fairy tales, but without losing sight of the whole kernel even for a moment, ensuring that each piece fits perfectly with the rest of the puzzle, creating a dense monument, where even the smallest detail has been assigned its time and place. It is hardly surprising then, that news of Hall of Mirrors issuing a two-disc release via Malignant has provoked a reaction from me very similar to those defined in biology textbooks as “wet dreams”.
Altered Nights begins with the brilliant The Meeting, where the tension is growing by the minute until the climax, intertwining dark ambient, industrial and heavy guitar riffs. Then comes a moment of relaxation, the excitement gently subsides, leading the listener to Invocation. The beginning of this song sounds like the wind raging over a desolate post-apocalyptic landscape – sorry about that painfully clichéd comparison, but listening to what’s going on here, I cannot come up with a better one. In the background the sounds of Thai flute (khlui) appear – this instrument has already indicated its presence on Forgotten Realm. This gives it a bit of a ritual feeling. Very subtle, but still – and this is a small step aside from dark ambient standards, as it is a rare situation when someone melts a ritual close to Mother Earth and post-industrial frost so neatly into one aural entity – this industrial aspect eventually takes control of the track’s direction. It reminds me a bit of Terra Sancta albums. But here also, in the final part of the track the tension gradually subsides preparing for the third chapter of Altered Nights.
On Magmatic Resonance (what a beautiful title) we have congenial guests, namely New Risen Throne and Vestigial. The title captures very well what is happening here during the first few minutes. Resonant sounds of bubbling magma are the foundation upon which ghostly wailing, metallic reverbs and other attractions are imposed. It’s amazing how many paths are set here, with each new listen I manage to notice something new in the track’s structure. The fourth scene of the first disc, Immaterial Bodies, is of a more experimental nature, but it’s still dark ambient of course, where looped and shredded samples are just ornaments for rough but pleasant hums and drones.
The second disc contains only one track, but it lasts about 45 minutes. We’re talking about Late Night Ceremony, that accumulates all the best features that can be found on the first disc – although the musicians have braided here a few more subtle sequences, where the drones are warmer and of a more human shade. Around the fifteenth minute a theme appears, straight from the most beautiful Raison d’être albums. The way a mechanical tsunami dominates, floods our heads and molten metal thickens in our lungs. Unfortunately, every madness comes to an end. The disc’s peaceful culmination does not bring relief. Only ashes remain… Altered Nights is obviously the most mature work of the two Italians. And also the most uncompromising – with a few minor exceptions – and generally devoid of melodic and melancholic passages, that were present on Reflections on Black and Forgotten Realm. Will it become my favorite? It’s still a matter to be resolved, because I bestow the previous releases with almost idolatrous veneration. The main thing is that Andrea and Giuseppe did not disappoint, they recorded almost two hours of industrialized dark ambient of the highest order. It was an abundant dark ambient feast, but I ask for more." - Stark, Santa Sangre Magazine