The first two tracks ably set the scene. "Jungle Is A Shapeshifter" and "Beyond The Yellow-Spotted Bamboo"—both coproduced by Silent Servant—move slowly, thick with the sounds of rain and misty pads. On the former, dubby delays disperse synth leads like spore clouds while the bass thuds underneath, at once evoking the comforting rhythms of nature and a rumbling death knell. "Beyond The Yellow-Spotted Bamboo" is full of the depressive melodies that have defined Fernow's recent work as Vatican Shadow and Prurient. A remix from DJ Pete, as Substance, takes the faint tribal rhythm of "Beyond The Yellow-Spotted Bamboo" and gives it a thicker, club-friendly frame while retaining the original's dense mossiness.
The album's most bewildering track, "Chile's Crimson Tide," shapes synthesizers into uncanny birdsong. Over rich sustained synths and rumbling bass, the squalls sound both obviously fake and eerily familiar. By confusing the natural and the artificial, Ambient Black Magic taps into an anxiety that most of us can relate to—the fear of the unknown, of unfamiliar places hidden in dark corners. Fernow maps human fear and stress onto the scarier parts of the natural world, a place where everything sounds dark and desolate. The album's grinding rhythms only add to the foreboding feeling. It's as unsettling as anything Fernow, a longtime noise artist, has ever done. But rather than hitting you over the head, Ambient Black Magic gets under your skin.